Helping those in the Horn of Africa

Local Floridians should remember how earlier this year the state reached record-setting drought conditions, with July 2010 to June 2011 ranking as one of the driest 12-month periods.

We saw how the lack of rain carried negative consequences for our land, causing increased wildfires, water restrictions, and low lake levels.

Now, imagine those conditions multiplied – added onto a lack of food, water and health services – and you begin to glimpse the effects of the current drought in the eastern Horn of Africa.

And for the millions of Somalis, Ethiopians and Kenyans living in the area the lack of water is causing devastating results. As water sources dwindle, families turn to untreated water, which puts them at risk from waterborne diseases like cholera and typhoid.

The American Red Cross announced today a pledge of up to $1 million for the evolving humanitarian crisis in Africa in support of our local partners working in the area, providing things like water, medical care and stabilizing livelihoods.

In Somalia, Red Cross and Red Crescent teams are also offering medical treatments as well as distributing seeds, farming tools, irrigation pumps and fishing equipment to help stabilize livelihoods. And in Kenya and Ethiopia, the Red Cross is helping those affected by the drought through school feeding programs, well rehabilitation, water trucking and general food distribution.

But even with all of the ongoing efforts by the Red Cross and its partners, the future need remains great. Experts do not expect conditions to improve until early 2012, which mean a large-scale and sustained humanitarian assistance is imperative.

To find out more about how the global Red Cross and Red Crescent Network is assisting, or how you can help our efforts, check out this article at redcross.org.

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