6.0 CASE STUDIES
Case Study - 2011 East African Drought
Famine caused by the 2011 East Africa Drought
Period: from July 2011
Affected Countries: Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, The United Republic of Tanzania
Total deaths: tens of thousands in East Africa
Impact on demographics: 9.5 million in need of assistance in Somalia, Djibouti, Ethiopia and Kenya
Since mid-July 2011, The Horn of Africa is experiencing the most severe food crisis in the world. More Than 12 million people in Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia are severely affected and need of humanitarian aid urgently. The number of people affected is a 38% increase since March 2011. The situation worsened, with famine in the lower Shabelle and Bakool regions of southern Somalia officially declared by the UN on 20 July 2011. A famine is declared by the UN when acute malnutrition rates among children exceed 30%, more than two people per 10,000 die per day, and when people are not able to access food and other basic necessities. Although the famine declaration is only in Somalia, large parts of Ethiopia, Kenya and Djibouti are also suffering from severe food insecurity due to the drought and high food prices.
The situation is severe across the region. Poor March-June long rains caused drought conditions in Kenya's northern and north-eastern districts to become worse. In Ethiopia, the persistent La Niña conditions have affected two consecutive rainy seasons, causing food shotage in the drought-affected lowlands of southern and south-eastern Ethiopia, and in parts of the central and southern highlands that depend on short-cycle crops cultivated during the February-to-May rainy season. In Djibouti, the extended drought and has forced many pastoral and rural households to migrate. Urban food insecurity is rising due to high levels of unemployment and an increase of food prices, currently at 68% over the five-year average, aggravated by deteriorating terms of trade. The country’s resistance to international food price fluctuations is weak, as 90% of food is imported. Towards the end of 2011, food security levels in the worst-affected areas of Ethiopia and Kenya are expected to ease from "emergency" to "crisis" levels. Civil insecurity and armed conflicts continue to be additional, serious threats to food security in most areas of southern and central Somalia, and obstruct the delivery of humanitarian aid.
Due to the Horn of Africa drought, 12.4 million people (and counting) have been severly affected by the food crisis and they need urgent life-saving assistance. In many locations emergency levels of global acute malnutrition had been reported. The crisis is severe as it is not driven by only one factor. Besides experiencing two consecutive seasons of significantly below-average rainfall (resulting in one of the driest years since 1995 and causing to crop failure), food prices continued to rise while violence and conflict occur in certain areas. This had led to a large movement of people.
Zooming into Somalia
The trigger for this massive movement of people from and within Somalia is directly attributable to the drought, but also due to the on-going conflict in southern Somalia which has restricted access for humanitarian agencies. There is an array of security challenges due to armed conflict and civil unrest, making it very difficult for any form of foreign aid to reach the people in need. As they are unable to receive aid in affected areas (in particular south-central Somalia), many of them are forced walk on foot over long distances for help. The conditions are very difficult and many of them will arrive at camps in Djibouti, Kenya and Ethiopia with a bad physical state, especially the women and children. Moreover, these camps became overcrowded and its response capacity is overstretched because of the massive movement of people out of Somalia.
Now in 2012, the rains have started in the Horn but several consecutive seasons of drought have left millions of people requiring food assistance until the next harvest comes in.