Food crisis: Preparing for the worst humanitarian crisis in 70 years
Twenty million people in Yemen, South Sudan, Somalia, and northeastern Nigeria have been grappling with a serious food crisis since 2016. Several East African countries have been hit by drought in recent months, including Somalia, Kenya, Ethiopia, Djibouti, Uganda, South Sudan and, to a lesser extent, Tanzania. In some countries, conflicts have caused severe food shortages. Handicap International is preparing to deal with one of the worst humanitarian crises since the Second World War.
Kakuma refugee camps in Kenya. | © E.Cartuyvels/Handicap International
In Somalia, Handicap International will raise the awareness of humanitarian organisations and train them to ensure the needs of the most vulnerable people (people with disabilities, older people, children, pregnant woman and so on) are taken into account in their emergency response. The organisation will also prioritise long-term access to water and food.
“After months of severe drought, the rainy season, which is starting now, could spell disaster,” explains Xavier Duvauchelle, the head of the organisation’s programmes in East and Southern Africa. “A second drought is expected from July onwards. Our aim is therefore to give affected people sustainable access to food and water. This could entail digging wells and cultivating land to grow agricultural products resistant to climate change.”
Handicap International also plans to provide malnourished children with physiotherapy care.
“Many malnourished children may need support from a physiotherapist to prevent the onset of permanent disabilities,” Duvauchelle adds. “Children affected by famine may have a developmental delay caused by undernutrition. Malnutrition can also lead to respiratory infections and physiotherapists can intervene to prevent complications.”
Under these circumstances, Handicap International may also organise awareness sessions to teach parents how to detect problems.
In South Sudan, Handicap International ensures the needs of vulnerable people (e.g. people with disabilities, older people, pregnant women, children) are taken into account in humanitarian programmes implemented by international aid organisations.
We plan to distribute food and water, supply rehabilitation care and provide psychological support sessions if needs are not adequately covered by humanitarian organisations already working in the field.
In Yemen, two years of fighting have given rise to widespread food insecurity. Handicap International’s teams in the field are currently assessing needs in view of a possible response.
“The war in Yemen has seriously disrupted food imports and considerably reduced the livelihoods and sources of income of households,” says Arnaud Pont, the manager of the organisation’s emergency operations in Yemen.