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Irish donations to East Africa continue to rise

Ethiopia and Kenya are in the midst of a widespread food emergency but thanks to earlier aid programmes, they have so far avoided catastrophe and famine, unlike Somalia. Source: Fews.net.Donations from Ireland for the drought-stricken region of East Africa continue to rise according to aid agencies.

Figures provided by just three agencies in Ireland show donations to their projects now stand at €14.6 million. This exceeds the total previously raised by the umbrella body of more than 40 Irish aid agencies and development organisations, Dóchas, of which all three are members.

A spokesman for Trócaire, Eoghan Rice, said today €8.9 million has been donated to that agency since July 5th.

Concern has collected €4.4 million for the region since June according to spokeswoman Eithne Healy. “It’s a huge amount of money. It’s incredible when you think of the difficulties people here are going through,” she said. Last week, Concern’s Overseas Director Paul O’Brien called for greater media coverage, saying: “The Horn of Africa is in danger of becoming another ‘hidden emergency’ as the media spotlight falls elsewhere.”

A spokesman for Oxfam Ireland, Paul Dunphy, said €1.3 million has been collected since July for Oxfam projects.

Dóchas said in August that close to €12 million had been donated for famine relief. Dóchas plan to collate donations again in the coming weeks, according to spokeswoman Holy Ramanankasina.

Meanwhile the Irish government recently announced an additional €11 million in aid; €1 million for immediate delivery and a further €10 million to be donated by the end of 2012. This more than doubles the previous pledge.

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Eamon Gilmore said: “(The initial aid) will be used to provide emergency relief to famine victims in Ethiopia and Somalia. We are particularly targeting children.”

The additional funding was announced following a United Nations ‘mini-summit’ in New York on Saturday. Representatives of 13 countries including Ireland pledged an extra $218 million(€162 million) in aid.

Speaking at the summit, secretary-general Ban Ki-Moon noted that aid projects had prevented famine in Ethiopia and Kenya and he said he hoped this would also be possible in Somalia.

Also this month, the World Bank announced an increase in aid to $1.8 billion (€1.3 billion euro) over the coming years with most of the money earmarked for long-term drought resistance. This includes a previous commitment of $500 million (€372 million).

The increase is in response to heightened fears of conflict over water rights and access to agricultural land should drought conditions continue according to the world body. The UN World Food Programme recently highlighted the link between food insecurity and conflict.

The Department of Foreign Affairs estimates 13 million people in Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia and Uganda are “severely affected” by the drought.

Forecast turned to famine in Somalia

FEWS NET (Famine Early Warning Systems Network) warned of severe food insecurity in the Horn of Africa for July-September 2011 (see map below). While Ethiopia and Kenya remain extremely food insecure this month, parts of Somalia have since tipped over into famine according to its latest analysis (see the updated map above).

In Somalia, 4.0 million people are in crisis, of which 3.0 million are in the south. 750,000 people are experiencing famine-level outcomes. Tens of thousands of people have already died, over half of whom are children.

Severe food insecurity was forecast in the Horn of Africa for July-September 2011. Parts of Somalia have since tipped over into famine.

Putting aid to work

Working with 450,000 people across the region, Trócaire provides direct food aid, drought-tolerant seeds and irrigation systems. Health centres in Somalia have been expanded to deal with the four-fold increase in admission since January.

Oxfam Ireland works with over 770,000 people in Somalia alone, providing water and nutrition programmes especially for mothers and children. The agency recently sent 47 tonnes of water pipes and other material to combat cholera outbreaks.

Concern works with over 500,000 people in the region. Providing materials for shelters and mosquito nets, the agency runs emergency food programmes in Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia.

Irish government funding provides seeds to farmers, and a cash-for-work scheme for public projects. An agricultural programme in Ethiopia prevented famine-conditions for 500,000 people according to the department.

Further information on donating can be found at www.howyoucanhelp.ie

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