The international disaster relief charity ShelterBox is preparing to help thousands of people facing the most prolonged drought East Africa has faced in 40 years.
While the drought facing the UK grabs media headlines, the worsening situation in the Horn of Africa has been left largely overlooked. It’s a crisis affecting almost 20 million people across parts of Ethiopia, Somalia, and Kenya, with more than a million people displaced. Many of them are still on the move with nowhere to live, having had to leave their homes behind as they desperately search for food, water, or grazing land for their livestock.
Cornwall-based ShelterBox will be distributing emergency shelter aid to thousands of displaced people affected by the drought in the Somali region of Ethiopia this month. It will include tarpaulins, rope, and other essential items that will allow people to build emergency shelters to help protect themselves from the elements.
Henry Thompson is ShelterBox’s Programme Manager for Ethiopia. He says: “We know that more than 420,000 people have been displaced by the drought in Ethiopia alone and many of them are taking drastic action to survive.
“ShelterBox aid will make a tangible difference to thousands of people in desperate need of shelter in the Somali region of the country.
“Tarpaulins will help people create temporary homes that will protect their families from the elements, giving them their own space to spend time with one another.
“It’s not just Ethiopia facing this crisis though, the drought is crippling neighbouring countries too and more support is desperately needed to help people survive.”
Somalia, Ethiopia, and Kenya are prone to droughts, but this is extreme and far-reaching following a fourth failed rainy season in a row.
ShelterBox’s Regional Director for East and Southern Africa, Sam Hewett adds:
“With the world’s attention on Ukraine, what we are seeing unfold, largely under the radar, in the Horn of Africa is the dire impact of the worst drought in over 40 years – driven by human-induced climate change.
“With millions of people at risk of famine, hundreds of thousands of people are on the move in search of food. It means they are leaving their homes and livelihoods behind and that is why as well as our work in Ethiopia, we are looking at whether we might be well placed to help people in Somalia who have been displaced with emergency shelter aid.”
Conflict in the Horn of Africa has been a long-standing driver of displacement, however extreme weather, made worse by the climate crisis, is driving more people from their homes. In Somalia itself there are more than seven million people affected by the drought and more than one million people have been displaced there since January because of it.
Drought can have a severe effect on communities that rely on livestock or farming for their income, forcing people from their homes on long journeys in search of food, water, somewhere to live, and alternative livelihoods.
ShelterBox provides emergency shelter and other essential items to people across the globe who have lost their homes to conflict and disaster. The charity has been responding in Ethiopia since 2018 as millions of people have already been forced to flee their homes due to violent conflict, rising hunger, and economic instability. In that time, the charity has reached more than 60,000 people across four responses with its partner The International Organization for Migration (IOM).
The charity is currently helping people affected by the war in Ukraine, and the ongoing conflict in Yemen, and it provided aid to 100,000 people in the Philippines earlier this year after Typhoon Rai swept across the country. As well as working to support people in Syria, Cameroon, Burkina Faso, Nigeria, and Haiti, ShelterBox has an assessment team in Bangladesh following severe flash flooding there.
ShelterBox has helped more than two million people across 98 countries since it was established in 2000 and relies heavily on public donations to fund its responses across the world. For more information about ShelterBox visit shelterbox.org.