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Red Cross Steps up to Provide Food and Water in East Africa

Inconsistent rainfall, extreme heat, flooding, and low crop yields have led to severe food insecurity for more than 20 million people in east Africa. In response, the American Red Cross has contributed $650,000 to help people struggling to feed their families in two countries, Kenya and South Sudan. The financial contribution is aiding local Red Cross teams in their efforts to save lives.

“My crops were last full four years ago,” says Adumasu Lulalu, one farmer affected by the severe drought. “Since then, there has been almost nothing. It comes and goes.”

IN KENYA, more than two million people already don’t have enough food to eat and the United Nations (UN) predicts that number could increase as the drought continues. Many families have had to relocate in search of water sources as wells and rivers dry up. More than 40,000 people have been displaced to camps where they face outbreaks of cholera and dengue fever.

The Kenya Red Cross is providing cash assistance to families in need, helping people to avoid starvation. Many households are in isolated, hard-to-reach areas, so Red Cross teams have had to overcome rivers and hills to reach those impacted by this crisis. Thousands of families in Kilifi, Tana River, Marsabit, Baringo and Turkana have received cash payments from the Red Cross. Cash empowers families affected by the drought to buy anything they think will make the most significant impact in their lives—such as food, livestock, seeds, water, or income-generating materials.

Kenya Red Cross teams have also purchased thousands of goats and distributed meat to more than 15,000 people. Additional food assistance has been provided to more than 40,000 people throughout the affected regions. Other aid being supplied by the Red Cross includes health and nutrition support, rehabilitation of communal water sources and livestock destocking—where animals weakened by the drought are sold for meat. Read more here.

“I don’t have words to express my gratitude. God must have sent you to rescue us from hunger. I lost all my cows to the drought,” said Cheptilak Yaradomee, a resident of Kasitei, Kenya, about receiving the Red Cross aid.

IN SOUTH SUDAN, armed conflict has left millions with no access to food, water or shelter—and the prolonged drought has worsened the situation. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)—the branch of the Red Cross Red Crescent network that provides aid in conflict zones—has been addressing various humanitarian needs in the country for years.

The UN estimates that as many as two million people have been displaced by violence between opposition forces and the government. When families flee, they leave behind land, crops, food stocks, and tools for making a living—which exacerbates their need for food, water and other vital necessities. For some, this is the second or third time they have been forced to leave everything behind.

The ICRC is working across multiple areas in South Sudan to help those facing violent conflict and an extreme food shortage. Red Cross teams are providing food, seeds, tools, fishing kits, and other vital supplies in addition to supporting hospitals and health clinics. In response to cholera outbreaks, the ICRC has installed emergency water treatment systems. Red Cross teams are also promoting international humanitarian law—which dictates the rules of armed conflict, including that civilians should not be targeted. More information is available here.

Follow @IFRCAfrica and @ICRC_Africa for updates.

About the American Red Cross:

The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit or, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.