Horn of Africa famine: USAID launches awareness campaign

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Released 31 October 2011

Over the past several months, the worst humanitarian crisis in the world has placed more than 13.3 million people across the Horn of Africa at risk — a greater number than the populations of New York and Los Angeles combined. Quickly becoming incomprehensible, the emergency has its roots in a devastating combination of famine, war and drought.

Horn of AfricaThe Horn of Africa's descent into drought began with lower than expected rainfall in the fall of 2010. As the situation worsened, millions became unable to water crops and feed livestock.

As land dried up, livestock perished and food ran out. Prices for traditional  staple foods — such as maize and rice — soared as much as 300 percent in markets throughout the Horn of Africa.

All six famine stricken areas are in southern Somalia, where humanitarian assistance has been and continues to be limited or denied. Additionally, drought is affecting millions in neighbouring countries and threatens to extend further in coming months.

With unrelenting drought, families left their homes and have walked up to 100 miles in search of food, water, and medicine. Refugees surged across borders into camps in Kenya and Ethiopia.

The U.S. Government and its partners are responding wherever access allows to provide assistance in health, food, shelter, and agriculture. This assistance saves lives, builds resiliency, and prevents future crises.

Last month, USAID announced the FWD campaign to raise awareness across America about this worsening situation. Residents of the USA will be soon see special public service announcements on the crisis released by USAID using some familiar faces. Visit USAID's Famine War Draught relief website at www.usaid.gov/fwd for more information and ways you can help.

Derek Schwabe


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