East Africa is currently experiencing the worst drought to hit the region in 60 years. The UN has officially declared famine in parts of southern Somalia—regions of Lower Shabelle and southern Bakool. It is predicted that the entire south of Somalia will face famine within the next two months. Operation USA is working to assess unmet needs on the ground, with its initial response focusing on water resource needs in Kenya’s Dadaab refugee camps. The Dadaab camps–the largest in the world–are reported to receive as many as 1,300 refugees a day, the majority fleeing war-torn Somalia. These camps house almost 400,000 displaced people in three camps originally designated for 90,000.
Other countries in the Horn of Africa are being severely affected by drought. Successive seasons of failed rains—combined with increasing food prices, conflict and limited humanitarian access—have resulted in food and water shortages, acute malnutrition and mass displacement throughout the region. The lack of rain has also contributed to massive livestock deaths undermining the livelihoods of those who depend on them for economic and food security. Estimates are that there are at least 1.5 million displaced people—and 10 million people in need of immediate food assistance as a result of this crisis.
Operation USA is currently focusing on providing safe (e.g., purified) water to the camp in Dadaab. Local partners including Oxfam America and Africa Humanitarian Action, an Ethiopia-based Pan-African NGO.
Operation USA has numerous ongoing projects in Africa–with its initial aid effort dating from 1980 in Somalia. The 1984-86 East African famine was one of Operation USA’s largest relief efforts. Current projects in Rwanda, Ethiopia, Zambia and Sierra Leone encompass maternal and child health, mental health, literacy and community development.