More than 13 million individuals are in need of immediate humanitarian assistance in Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, and Djibouti, known as the Horn of Africa. Due to a severe drought, the worst in 60 years according to officials at the UN, villages are experiencing critical food shortages and a life-threatening lack of water. The UN estimates that tens of thousands have already died in Somalia alone, half of those victims are children, and the numbers are only expected to increase as famine conditions spread.
International Relief and Development (IRD), together with its partners, is focusing on improving access to safe drinking water and sanitation facilities in the Horn of Africa. Safe water, sanitation, and hygiene programs are important in preventing secondary causes of death and illness related to malnutrition. Malnourished individuals are especially susceptible to diseases such as measles, cholera, and malaria, as well as respiratory infections, due to compromised immune systems.
In Dollo Ado, Ethiopia, near the borders of Ethiopia, Kenya, and Somalia, IRD is working with a local organization to bring water to 16 villages that have not seen rain in more than two years. The nearest water source for some villagers is more than 12 miles away. Latter-day Saint Charities (LDS) has provided nearly $200,000 to IRD to help implement this critical water project.
“This morning when we woke up, 5 different villages in the Dollo Ado woreda were completely out of water,” noted Scott Webb, an IRD Relief Officer serving in Ethiopia. “By this afternoon, they will have water. IRD can hold its head high that we did the right thing today and acted quickly in an emergency to save lives.”
The Prem Rawat Foundation (TPRF) is also working with IRD to support relief efforts in the Horn of Africa. Through grants from TPRF and LDS, IRD will be able to continue working in Ethiopia and Somalia to provide water and sanitation facilities to at least 24,000 people in 16 villages and to grow those efforts to even more in other parts of Ethiopia, Somalia, and Kenya.
If you are interested in learning more and finding out how you can help, you can visit www.ird.org for more information. You can also stay up-to-date on IRD’s latest news by following us on Facebook, Twitter (@ird_voices), Flickr, or YouTube.