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One year later, we can build on the lessons of the East Africa drought

One year later, we can build on the lessons of the East Africa drought

July 3, 2012

The Humanitarian Coalition, this week, is marking the one-year anniversary of our appeal for the 2011 drought in East Africa. We are now applying the lessons learned from that joint exercise to our response to the ongoing drought and food crisis threatening more than 18 million people in the Sahel region of West Africa.

In East Africa in 2011, one of the worst droughts in 60 years left more than 13 million people in need of food, water and emergency healthcare. The countries of Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, and the newly-formed Republic of South Sudan were all directly affected by the crisis. Hundreds of thousands of people fled Somalia due to the drought and conflict, and parts of the country were afflicted by famine.

The Humanitarian Coalition’s joint appeal raised $14 million thanks to the generosity of the Canadian public. Donations helped hundreds of thousands of people with the delivery of emergency food, basic healthcare, and water sanitation kits. Nutrition centres and child education programs also played a significant role in our member agencies’ response.

As effective as the Humanitarian Coalition and its member agencies were in raising awareness and funds for this crisis, it is now clear that earlier action could have saved more lives. A joint report, A Dangerous Delay issued in January by Oxfam and Save the Children reviewed the international emergency response to the drought and famine in East Africa, and it confirmed the need to intervene earlier to avoid a full-blown catastrophe.

This year, heeding the report’s recommendations, and unwilling to wait until the situation in the Sahel reaches even more extreme levels of malnutrition, we are alerting the public now so more lives can be saved by acting early. On June 14, the HUMANITARIAN COALITION launched a joint appeal to bolster its member agencies’ response to the drought and food crisis in the Sahel. More information on this joint appeal is available at

The Humanitarian Coalition is comprised of CARE Canada, Oxfam Canada, Oxfam-Québec, Plan Canada and Save the Children. With a combined presence in more than 120 countries, we bring together Canada's leading aid agencies to finance relief efforts in times of international humanitarian crises. We work together to reduce administrative costs by uniting to raise funds and inform the public on humanitarian needs.

For more information, please contact:

Humanitarian Coalition
Marie-Jo Proulx
Communications Manager

Oxfam Canada
Juliet O’Neill

Read about Oxfam's work in the Sahel.




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