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East Africa Famine: Emergency relief reaches vulnerable families

Women collect food at the SOS Children distribution centre in Gode
Women collect food at the SOS Children distribution centre in Gode

In the current famine in East Africa, households which were already vulnerable before this crisis are particularly at risk. SOS Children have identified marginalized children and families in two areas of Ethiopia, who are now receiving urgent food supplies and assistance to help them to survive.

Estimates suggest that 4.5 million people in Ethiopia are now in need of urgent humanitarian aid, although the figure is likely to be higher. Located in the south of the country, the town of Gode has been one of the hardest-hit areas. A prolonged lack of rainfall has had a devastating impact on farmer’s livestock and businesses, as well impacting on the availability and cost of food.

Working in partnership with other aid organisations, community organisations and local government, SOS Children have identified 2,250 households most in need. Families include those with pregnant women, those with young children, grandparent-headed households, child-headed households, and families with a chronically ill parent. We have already distributed 25 kg of rice and 3 liters’ of cooking oil to each of these households. In addition to providing medical care for 1,000 adults and children, three health professionals employed by SOS Children work in the area offering families advice on nutrition, sanitation and hygiene, to prevent the spread of diseases.

We have also launchedMap of EA famine relief operations to assist families in Morudile, approximately 90 miles south of Gode Town in Ethiopia. Thousands of refugees from Somalia have walked 50 miles to reach the city, arriving weak and malnourished. More than 2,000 families have been registered in the refugee camps here, and the number is increasing daily. Food and water supplies, and health services are poor in the camps. The surrounding community in Morudile is also suffering from the drought and the increased demand for already scarce food from the influx of refugees.

In late August, a team from SOS Children arrived in Morudile to determine the most effective response to meet people’s needs. Working in partnership with local groups, a committee has been formed to determine the most vulnerable families. SOS Children are now providing basic food supplies to 1,000 households. SOS Children were the first international organisation distributing food to the most vulnerable families in this area.

SOS Children have been working in Ethiopia since 1975. We already have a Children’s Village and Medical Centre in Gode. In the past three years, SOS Children have participated in two emergency relief projects in Gode town, so we are well placed and experienced to provide emergency relief. As well as providing food to vulnerable families in Gode and Morudile, we will expand our operations to provide preventative and curative health care services.

Listen to an interview with SOS Children's Tommy Standun based in Gode

Here, Tommy explains the issues facing some of the communitites we are working with in the Gode region of Ethiopia:

How you can help

You can make a one-off donation directly to our Emergency Relief Programme, or take out a child sponsorship to help us to focus on the long-term welfare of children who have no one to care for them as a result of the famine.