Communities in East Africa need relief aid and donations to aid programme

P. Yazdi
Image: P. Yazdi

Particularly Kenya, Somalia and Ethiopia are headed towards a humanitarian crisis due to drought. The Red Cross provides relief aid to the areas in most critical condition.

In addition, there is currently a long-spanning aid programme to support communities, for example, in engaging in different means of livelihood.

– Many people have only one means of livelihood. If drought ruins their crops, for example, there is nothing left over. The Red Cross helps people in these communities to get back on their feet by distributing seeds and tools, or buy buying them new livestock, for instance, says Päivi Laurila, Head of International Programmes at the Finnish Red Cross.

People in the area are suffering from many problems caused by drought at the same time, such as crop failure, death of livestock and diseases caused by contaminated water. In addition, drought leads to an increase in migration, as people move to find water and nutrition.

The Finnish Red Cross supports the work of its sister organisations in Somalia, Kenya and Ethiopia. The FRC funds the programmes, but the work is done by local volunteers. The emphasis of these programmes is on providing water to the communities and on improving health awareness.

– The availability of water is increased by building wells and dams which bring water closer to the communities. People in the communities also need information about the significance of clean water for health, as incorrect use of water increases the prevalence of diseases, Laurila says.

More help is needed

We at the Finnish Red Cross believe that long-spanning water, sanitation and health programmes can reduce the rate of sudden crises and the need for humanitarian aid in the long-term. Laurila reminds us, however, that these options are not mutually exclusive.

– Humanitarian aid is still needed in many areas to supplement work that is already being done. Now the drought has worsened significantly and we need more crisis relief, Laurila says.

This year the Finnish Red Cross has set aside a handsome EUR 2 million to provide aid for East Africa. The funding is mainly made up of support from the Finnish Ministry for Foreign Affairs as well as funds donated by the Disaster Relief Fund of the Finnish Red Cross. This money has been used to fund both humanitarian aid and long-spanning development cooperation programmes.

Now we need more donations. The situation is clearly worsening, and there is good cause to prepare for the problems now. Those in need of aid are mainly ordinary village communities, and in addition relief is needed in refugee camps.

– The local Red Crosses have the readiness and plans needed to help those suffering from drought, but there is not enough funding, Laurila says.

As of 28 July, EUR 100,000 has been donated to the disaster relief fund to help the victims of drought.

In addition to the forms of support provided in the beginning of the year, the Finnish Red Cross is beginning to use the money donated to the disaster relief fund to support a school meal programme in Kenya – thanks to Finnish donors. School meals are currently being distributed through the International Federation of Red Cross societies and the Kenyan Red Cross.

– In addition to relief aid, it is now important to support work that prevents countries suffering from drought from sinking into even deeper poverty. Children must be able to continue to go to school, and the support for school meals has already led to extremely positive results. Drop-out rates have decreased significantly thanks to the programme, says Päivi Laurila, Head of International Programmes at the Finnish Red Cross.

We need your help!

Red Cross members and donors ensure that we can provide swift aid to the places where it is needed the most. You can help our humanitarian work by donating to the Disaster Relief Fund of the Finnish Red Cross, by transferring a donation to the account number 221918-68000.

IBAN: FI06 2219 1800 0680 00

If you would like to send your donation to the drought victims of East Africa, write “Drought in Africa” in the message field or use the reference number 451025817089.

Donate by phone: 0600 12220 (€20.12/call + service charges)