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28/11/2023 | Article

El Nino expected to make Malawi’s lean season even leaner

By Anne Wanjiru IFRC Senior Communications Officer Almost every family in Malawi is a farming family, a source of great strength for the country’s economy. This was seen a few decades ago when the country was regularly exporting agricultural produce to neighboring nations. However, this means most families have also been extremely vulnerable to climatic stresses and shocks. "Year after year, it’s been getting harder to get good yields from farming and get a good earning,” says Martha Makaniko, a farmer from Chiwalo village in Mulanje. “We no longer rely on regular weather patterns. I used to get eight bags of maize from my field. Now I would be lucky to get two. I have prepared my land awaiting the rains but have no money to buy seeds or fertilizer." When tropical cyclone Freddy hit Malawi in March 2023, Martha watched as her entire crop was washed away. Like thousands of other farming families, she not only lost her crops. “My house collapsed,” says Martha, who is also ill and in need of money for medical assistance. “I stayed in the shelter for several months. I spent my entire lifesavings building a new house. This set me back. We eat nothing, but porridge made from raw mangoes.” Boiled fruit and poisoned yams People don’t normally boil fruit for food in Malawi, so Martha’s mango porridge is an indication that a lot of families are running out of choices. According to the Malawi government’s Vulnerability Assessment Committee Report, more than 4.4 million peopleare facing hunger. The economic downturn, as well as the ripple effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and the Russia-Ukraine conflict have all exacerbated the hunger situation in Malawi. In the last 18 months,Malawi’s currency – the Malawian Kwacha – has been devalued twice. This has caused inflation on everything, including critical supplies such as seeds and fertilizer. Some farmers find it too expensive to manage their own farms, and decide to do piecework in other people’s fields, a common coping alternative among farming families that is also proving to be very competitive. Those that cannot find any piece work at all will scavenge for wild yams or raw mangoes to boil and feed their families. A variety of wild yams is poisonous, however, and the difference can be hard to tell. Fani Mayesu recently lost her husband and 19-year-old son after consuming poisonous wild yams. “We didn’t know they were poisonous,” she says, with a look of disbelief. “My husband brought them, I prepared them, and we all ate. Immediately we begun getting sick and vomiting. My other 5 children and I recovered but not my husband and one son.” El Nino’s first waves According to forecasts, the situation is likely to get worse before it gets better. International and national Meteorological agencies say the upcoming 2023/24 rainy season (also known as the lean season when food supplies diminish) in Malawi is expected to be influenced by El Niño. In the past, El Niño conditions have been linked to a delayed start of the rainfall season, below-normal precipitation, and dry spells. The Malawi Red Cross Society (MRCS) in its lean-season response plan will seek to prioritise highly affected districts. This is aimed at strengthening community capacity to cope with the food insecurity while sustaining other resilience building activities. “We hope to not only address the immediate acute food security needs but to also respond to climate predictions through interventions such as distributing early maturing seed varieties,’ says Prisca Chisala, director of programmes and development at MRCS. “We also plan to support winter cropping and encourage crop diversification to adopt drought resistant crops to address the gaps in production.” Red Cross response Through the support of IFRC and partner National Societies, MRCS needs over CHF 3 million to help close to 100,000 people by: • providing food assistance in forms of cash-based transfer, wet feeding in schools and in-kind support • strengthening community resilience through promotion of livelihood and risk reduction, • protection of all vulnerable groups from violence, sexual violence, exploitation, abuse and neglect and ensure that human rights are respected. “It’s critical that we support the farming family’s resilience to attain a harvest after this rainy season, otherwise we will see significant rise in hunger levels,” says John Roche, head of IFRC's cluster delegation for Malawi. Zambia and Zimbabwe. “Time is of essence here to avert a worsening situation from the El-Nino predictions. Only a rapid, effective, and well-resourced response is urgently needed to mitigate the crisis from long-term impacts.”

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30/11/2023 | Article

In Somalia, an oasis grows amid the drought

By Timothy Maina, IFRC communications officer Not too long ago, people living in the Cuun village were grappling with the challenge of basic survival. Access to clean water for both domestic and agricultural purposes remained a constant struggle. The community's reliance on hand-dug artesian wells, which were prone to flooding during rainy seasons and regular siltation, significantly reduced their water yield. This scarcity had a detrimental impact on their health and well-being, hindering their ability to cultivate crops, fruits, vegetables, and raise livestock “We struggled to access clean water for drinking, cooking, bathing, and livelihood support,” says one of the community leaders, Yasiin Maxamed Jamac. “This had a negative impact on our health and well-being, and it made it difficult for us to grow crops, fruit, vegetables and raise livestock.” In 2022, the Somalia Red Crescent Society (SRCS), with the support from the IFRC, rehabilitated the solar-powered borehole pump and provided the Cuun community with adequate water sources for human and animal consumption, as well as irrigation purposes, as part of the IFRC's Africa Hunger Crises Emergency Appeal. Located in the Somali semi-autonomous state of Puntland, the village is less than 400 kilometers from the tip of the Horn of Africa. Like many other parts of Somalia and the Horn of Africa region, Cuun has suffered from recurring failed rainy seasons and occasional flash floods in recent years. Since 2021, Somalia has been under a state of national emergency due to ongoing drought. At the same time, the region around Cuun has also been destabilized by armed violence and population movement — adding to the challenges for those trying to maintain stable livelihoods. A landscape transformed The project with Cuun village is just one example of how the IFRC and National Societies such as the SRCS join forces with local communities to re-inforce local resilience to climate-related shocks and unpredictable weather patterns, which have been aggravated by climate change. It’s the kind of urgent local action the IFRC is calling on world leaders to support at COP28 Climate Summit from 30 Nov. to 12 December. For the village of Cuun, the project has had a transformative impact. Over 100 households now have their own small farms — 100 metres by 100 metres — where they cultivate a variety of fruits, vegetables, and crops, including papaya, lemon, watermelon, onion, tomatoes, pepper, carrot, sweet potato, coriander, sorghum, beans, and maize. The community sells 80 per cent of their harvest in nearby cities, earning an average income of USD 200 to USD 500 per month per household. This represents a significant increase in their income and livelihood, enabling them to improve their food security and overall well-being. One of the beneficiaries of the project is Mama Ruqya*, a mother of eight.She and her family recently moved to Cuun village with their herd of goats looking for pasture. SRCS identified Mama Ruqya as one of the beneficiaries of the 5-month Cash Voucher Assistance programme, which provides people with cash vouchers that can be redeemed for food, water, and other essential items. “During the recent drought season, SRCS supported us with US$ 80 cash grants for five months and it has sustained us a lot,” says Mama Ruqya. “Now as we are in the last stage of the prolonged drought and hoping for rain, we are grateful for the support that we have received.” The initial rains have brought some relief to the herding and farming communities in Cuun village. Mama Ruqya and her family supplement their food supplies and water from the nearby Cuun village while their livestock graze in the reviving plains. *Not her real name, to protect the identity of her children

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30/11/2023 | Article

IFRC at COP 28: The impacts are here, the time to act is now

Whether it’s the increasing power of storms, the proliferation of wildfires, worsening heatwaves and droughts – or the displacement of entire communities due to all the above — the impacts of climate change have been with us for some time. This is why the IFRC is once again heading to the Global Climate Summit, COP28, in the United Arab Emirates, with an urgent message: there’s no more time to waste. The time to act is now and the action must be bold. Just as world leaders must agree to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to prevent even worse humanitarian impacts, they must vastly scale-up adaptation action at the local level in order to reach the most at-risk and impacted people, according to the IFRC. People like Martha Makaniko, a farmer from Chiwalo village in the town Mulanje in Malawi. Earlier this year, Makaniko lost her home and all her crops due to unexpected flash flooding caused by Cyclone Freddy. After that, the normal rainfalls failed to come and now the El Nino phenomenon threatens to make the expected upcoming lean season even leaner. "Year after year, it’s been getting harder to get good yields from farming and get a good earning,” says Makaniko. “We no longer rely on regular weather patterns. I used to get eight bags of maize from my field. Now I would be lucky to get two." This kind of story is increasingly common in communities where the IFRC network is rooted. They are also the reason why the IFRC has been scaling up its own efforts to work with local communities and Red Cross and Red Crescent National Societies to alleviate immediate suffering — providing cash, food, water, hygiene and health support — while also preventing and reducing risks in the future. This is also why the IFRC is urging world leaders assembling for the COP 28 Climate Summit to take the following urgent steps: • prioritize local action • increase financing to help communities adapt • scale-up early action and measures that help communities anticipate risks • strengthen climate resilient health systems and to help people avert, minimize and address loss and damage due to climate-related events. Worse before it gets better Much more investment in all these areas is critical to help communities cope as the situation is likely to worsen before it gets better. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) confirms that climate change is already contributing to an increasing number of humanitarian crises (with average global temperature at 1.15°C above 1850-1900 average). And now there is a very real threat that temperatures will rise even further. Under current policies the world is on track for 2.8°C global warming by 2050, according to the United Nations Environment Programme. In the short term, this year’s El Niño phenomenon is expected to compound the impact with human-induced climate change, pushing global temperatures into uncharted territory, according to the World Meteorological Organization. Reasons for hope There are some reasons for hope however. If urgent steps are taken, there is a chance we can slow or stop further temperature increases while also making communities far less susceptible to climate-related shocks. Across the IFRC network, which includes 191 National Societies, there are numerous examples of communities working with the IFRC and others to make themselves more resilient so they can avoid the food insecurity, health risks and economic impacts of climate related disasters. In Jamaica, for example, the Red Cross worked with a school for deaf students on a climate-smart project to reinforce their self-sufficient campus farm with a solar-powered irrigation system. In Somalia, the IFRC and the Somalia Red Crescent worked with the village of Cuun to reestablish small farms with the help of a new borehole for clean water and a pumping system to help them cope with multiple years of drought. “We struggled to access clean water for drinking, cooking, bathing, and livelihood support,” says one of the community leaders, Yasiin Maxamed Jamac. “This had a negative impact on our health and well-being, and it made it difficult for us to grow crops, fruit, vegetables and raise livestock." Now over 100 households have their own small farms — 100 metres by 100 metres — where they cultivate a variety of fruits, vegetables, and crops.

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13/11/2023 | Article

Jamaica: Deaf students harness the power of climate-smart farming with support from Red Cross

Planting, watering, weeding, harvesting and feeding the animals have long been part of the life at the Caribbean Christian Centre for the Deaf (CCCD) in Manchester, Jamaica. On any given day, staff and students at the school’s Knockpatrick Campus might be harvesting beans, squash or vegetables as part of the educational nutritional and livelihoods program. But when the economic fallout of the Covid-19 pandemic led to dwindling enterprise earnings and donations to the school, the administration placed even more focus on using their land to assist in producing some of their internal food demands. In the meantime, however, there were other challenges: persistent drought meant that there simply wasn’t enough water to adequately irrigate the campus’ greenhouse and open field crops That’s when the school turned to “climate-smart” agriculture. With support from the Jamaica Red Cross (JRC), the Knockpatrick campus now uses solar powered pumps to help harvest and store water for its greenhouse and farm. The CCCD had previously installed a water catchment system in the 1960s, but the system has been in a state of disrepair. Tyreke Lewis, one of 130 students who lives at the 130-acre Knockpatrick campus, says the improvements have turned things around for the better. “The school will also be able to produce more goods to be sold to the community and other stakeholders,” he says. “The additional income will help us to pay our bills and other expenses. It will allow us to develop our skills to become more self-reliant for the future.” An island going dry The Knockpatrick Campus is not alone in facing the impacts of climate change. According to the Meteorological Services of Jamaica, all parishes received below normal rainfall in December 2022. Combined with COVID-19, changes in the climate have resulted in major humanitarian consequences, with the poorest and most vulnerable feeling the brunt of its effects through loss of life, economic setbacks and livelihood loss. As part of its plans to help people affected by the climate crises and the socio-economic effects of COVID-19, the JRC connected to the CCCD through the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA). “In our discussions with the CCCD, we realized that the drought and water scarcity that existed, coupled with the reduced income generation due to COVID-19, compounded the food crisis, pushing them to produce more for themselves,” said Leiska Powell, JRC project manager. “But to do that, they needed assistance to manage their water for improved and increased production. We wanted to find a way to help them do this.” Climate-smart farming To get things done, the JRC contracted a local company that provides alternate energy solutions to install the solar water pump and provided four, 1,000-gallon water tanks to help facilitate additional water storage. The initiative involved building a ramp to house the four water tanks and installing a solar water pump to move the water from the current catchment tank to the new storage drums to supply the greenhouse with water. John Meeks, social enterprise officer at the CCCD, noted that this partnership with the Red Cross marks the first step in their strategic bid to develop a climate-resilient and climate-smart agricultural programme. “Without irrigation, we can’t plant or raise animals,” he says. “This initiative, therefore, provides a key step in the right direction and will allow us to expand our crop production from 2-3 acres to up to 10 acres, because we now have the irrigation system in place.” The next phase of the initiative will see the JRC collaborating with RADA to offer climate smart agriculture training to students and staff of the CCCD to further build their capacity in sustainable agriculture and water management. There are also plans to expand the climate smart agriculture initiative to the other CCCD campuses, once additional funding is secured. The partnership also now forms a central part of activities undertaken through the COVID-19 climate-smart livelihoods recovery initiative, conducted by the JRC and supported by the IFRC, added Keisha Sandy, IFRC technical officer for climate and environmental sustainability for the Caribbean. “The Red Cross network is committed to helping people in communities make the transition from immediate recovery to the socioeconomic impacts of COVID-19, to long-term climate smart livelihood solutions geared towards increasing the sustained resilience of the communities we serve,” Sandy says.

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09/10/2023 | Article

Climate of migration: Climate crisis and conflict push more people to drought-stricken Djibouti

“Gargaar” is a local Somali word used in Djibouti to express community solidarity. Evident throughout the country, gargaar means communities are hospitable and welcoming, ready to host and help anyone they encounter. With fighting and insecurity in neighbouring Ethiopia and Somalia, more people are coming into Djibouti and so gargaar is on full display in many communities across the country. But with the area also going through one of the worst series of successive droughts in history, it’s clear that much more must be done to meet the mounting needs of people hit by the combined impacts of conflict, migration and climate change. Most travel more than 500 kilometres by foot, some continuing to the Gulf countries such as Yemen and Saudi Arabia across the Red Sea. The arduous and long journey, through harsh heat, across wild terrain and over rough seas, bears a heavy toll on men, women, and children. Many die along the way. ‘By God’s grace we have made it here,” says Fatouma, who came to Chekeyti, in southwestern Djibouti, from Ethiopia with her two young children. She is exhausted and her baby is restless from fatigue. They walked over 600 kilometres in unimaginable heat, through a landscape full of hyenas and snakes, and always in danger of harassment. “I had no choice; life was unbearable because of the clashes in Afar-Somali region and the lack of food because of drought,” she explains. “I heard life is better and more peaceful in Djibouti. We walked for days. Some days the thirst was unbearable. My children came very close to death. Some of the people we were with did not make it.” The community in Chekyeti welcomed them to settle and even use their water from a ‘barkaad’ (an underground water reservoir) nearby. When Djibouti Red Crescent in a recent assessment asked the community leader the most vulnerable households to receive cash distribution, they did not hesitate to also nominate the Ethiopian migrants living among them. This shows how deep rooted gargaar is in Djibouti, despite the host communities being themselves stretched of resources such as food and water. Successive droughts in the last decade means that many Djiboutian pastoralists have lost their livestock and livelihoods and have found themselves internally displaced, impoverished and dependent on humanitarian assistance. To ‘die trying’ The generosity of strangers therefore can be a critical lifeline and the Djibouti Red Crescent Society (DRCS) plays a critical role, reaching out to people at critical points in their journey when they are most vulnerable. Young men, some not more than thirteen years old, undertake the journey unaware of the dangers ahead. Family members back in Ethiopia invest all their life savings so these young people can search for a better life. As a result, the migrants cannot bear to turn back and be seen as failures. They often say they would rather ‘die trying’. The DRCS therefore has endeavored to bring services through mobile units that meet many of these young men, women and children out on the migration routes. Using only one vehicle, a driver and volunteers, the Red Crescent here has assisted more than 7,000 migrants within seven months through first aid, water, energy dry food, family links and psychosocial support. These mobile units and humanitarian service points offered lifesaving interventions in both the northern and southern parts of Djibouti’s key migration route. Unfortunately, DRCS had to stop this operation due to lack of resources. “The situation of drought-induced hunger is alarming,” says Amina Houssein, the secretary general of DRCS. “Unemployment and low levels of social protection, along with rising food prices and very low levels of food production means families are likely to go by with just a meal a day.” “The incidences of floods, high heat, droughts, as well as the prevalence of diseases and shocks have hit rural communities the hardest,” Hussein adds. “Our priority actions have been lifesaving basic needs assistance through multipurpose cash assistance, as well as water, sanitation and hygiene for human and animal consumption.” Through a Disaster Relief Emergency Fund, or DREF, allocation from IFRC in August, the DRCS has been able to deliver assistance to 45,000 people. But the needs are still enormous. Projections from the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification indicate that around 285,000 people, representing 24 percent of the total Djibouti population, will be acutely food insecure, and around 100,000 people will be in emergency food insecurity, by the end of the year. More than 30,000 children under 5 years of age are also expected to face acute malnutrition this year. Dire need of support A small National Society of just 37 staff, five branches and some 1,000 volunteers, DRCS is committed to doing the most with its incredibly stretched resources. With availability of funds, DRCS would like to revive its Mobile Humanitarian Service Points assistance to migrants, including those who entered the country outside legal channels. Such “irregular migrants”, as they are often called, face high vulnerability to economic exploitation by smugglers, abuse, physical and/or gender violence, potential for disease transmission, poor humanitarian conditions and loss of life. But these are not the only challenges the National Society faces. Recent sudden floods, mostly in the highlands of neighbouring Ethiopia, has also displaced more Djiboutians and left some communities completely cut off. “With the predicted El-Nino set to happen end of the year, we will need more help to mitigate the effects of flooding in this area,” says Mohamed Abass Houmed, governor of the Tadjourah region, which faces high risk of continued flooding. “Our biggest disadvantage is the poor shelter and road network especially in remote communities. In the event of a flood, some already vulnerable communities will be cut off”. Surviving with cash support and charcoal As part of its hunger crisis respone, the Djibouti Red Crescent distributed cash to a targeted 1,500 households. In one locality, they were able to do so through mobile money transfers. Meanwhile, families are doing whatever they can to survive. For most, the three rounds of cash distribution, which they used mostly for food and medicine, were not enough. To adapt to the erratic weather patterns and make ends meet, most communities abandoned pastoralism and farming and resorted to charcoal burning. Cutting down of trees for charcoal, however, inadvertently worsens conditions and increasing their climate risk. “Ask any community here in Djibouti what is their greatest need — you will get a resounding call for water,” says DRCS’s Houssein. “With the availability of funds, we at DRCS would additionally like to support communities through water rehabilitation projects, as well as tree planting as a mitigation measure for future climatic shocks.”

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11/10/2023 | Podcast

Homa Nader: Bringing hope to the people of Afghanistan

In this episode, we explore the dire humanitarian situation in Afghanistan with Homa Nader, Manager of Strategic Engagement and Partnership in the IFRC country office in Kabul. Four years of drought, economic sanctions and the legacy of conflict are just a few of the factors that have left some 34 million Afghans facing extreme hardship. We spoke with Homa about the daily challenges for average Afghans, theparticular difficulties for women, and about the critical and inspiring work of Red Crescent volunteers in helping people cope.

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26/09/2023 | Podcast

Mahabub Maalim: Planting hope amid a hunger crisis in Africa

A regional leader in the fight against food insecurity in Africa, Mahabub Maalim knows first-hand the impact that hunger has on people and communities. Growing up in eastern Kenya, he’s seen how cycles of drought, crop loss and hunger have become more frequent and more severe. He’s dedicated his life to helping communities develop local solutions and he now serves as special advisor to IFRC’s response to the current hunger crisis in Africa (now impacting 23 countries).

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15/08/2023 | Press release

Afghanistan: Intensified support critical amid deteriorating economic and humanitarian situation

Kabul/Kuala Lumpur/Geneva, 15 August – Economic hardships have sharply intensified living conditions in Afghanistan. The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) calls for continued humanitarian support to Afghanistan, coupled with investment in long-term solutions. More than two years after drought began affecting the region, nearly 28 million Afghans – both in cities and remote areas – struggle to meet basic needs. Economic hardships and continuous shocks have greatly diminished buying power, making many reliant on humanitarian assistance. Mawlawi Mutiul Haq Khales, Afghan Red Crescent Society Acting President, said: “The economic situation remains challenging for vulnerable Afghans, including women and girls. They have endured immense hardships and primarily rely on humanitarian assistance to get through shocks brought by drought, natural disasters, and economic hardship.” “Thanks to generous support from our local and international partners, the Afghan Red Crescent has expanded its response operation across all provinces in the first half of this year, aiming to prevent worsening humanitarian situations.” With the support of local and international partners, the Afghan Red Crescent has reached more than 500,000 households (approximately 3.5 million people) with a range of services. These include 3 million people with health services and awareness, more than 100,000 households (around 700,000 people) with food assistance, and at least 35,000 households (around 245,000 people) with cash assistance. “Now, due to reduced funding and increasing demand for services, we are prioritizing assistance to the most vulnerable. This includes providing cash assistance for widows, offering mental health and psychosocial support, and supporting children with congenital heart defects. For this, we request our partners to bolster their contributions,” Mawlawi Mutiul Haq Khales added. Afghanistan is grappling not only with its third consecutive year of drought but also with economic hardships that exacerbate the ongoing humanitarian situation. The current trend of foreign aid, primarily limited to humanitarian interventions due to sanctions or lack of international recognition of the current authorities, hinders long-term solution efforts. Necephor Mghendi, IFRC’s Head of Delegation for Afghanistan, said: “The humanitarian situation is becoming harsher, and we are increasing our support to the Afghan Red Crescent—with limited financial resources—to alleviate conditions for people most at risk, keeping in mind the need to combine immediate assistance with durable solutions that also address root-causes and vulnerabilities.” “We can’t address the humanitarian situation without investing in longer-term development solutions or addressing the economic crisis. They are intrinsically linked.” “As some parts of the world also grapple with man-made and natural hazards, people should not forget that Afghanistan is still facing one of the worst humanitarian crises in the world. Though headlines might emphasize a few issues, the vast array of needs remain.” The IFRC and Afghan Red Crescent are increasing preparedness for the upcoming winter and ever-present potential disasters. Stocks of winterization kits, tarps, tents, water storage containers, hygiene supplies, cooking utensils, and other essential household items are being pre-positioned in strategic locations across the country. Furthermore, Afghan Red Crescent disaster response teams are being equipped with updated data collection kits, identification materials, and refresher training. The Afghan Red Crescent Society has a branch in each province of the country, boasts a strong network of 24,600 volunteers, including women who are crucial to delivering services to vulnerable groups, especially women and girls. Community members – men, boys, women, and girls – remain central to the efforts of the Red Cross and Red Crescent: as recipients, designers, and deliverers. To support the Afghan Red Crescent, the IFRC revises its emergency appeal to the international community for 120 million Swiss francs to deliver urgent humanitarian aid to over two million people affected by multiple crises. For more information or to arrange an interview, contact: Afghanistan: Mir Abdul Tawab Razavy, +93-747-407-027, [email protected] Kuala Lumpur: Afrhill Rances, +60-192-713-641, [email protected] Geneva:Mrinalini Santhanam, +41763815006,[email protected]

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02/08/2023 | Article

South Sudan food insecurity: “Holding on to hope the rains will not fail”

Kapoeta, South Sudan has seen a drastic change in recent times. As residents walk by in the hustle and bustle of this small, rural town, you can see it in their faces: fatigue, most likely from hunger. This is the second failed rainy season for a community that depends on cultivating crops. As I drive by local farmers’ fields, nearly all the crops I see are dry and struggling. Andrea Loteng, 64, shows me around his farm. He’s the chairman of the local farmers’ association in Kapoeta South county and shares how erratic this year’s weather patterns have been. “The rains this year came a little early in March. I planted maize and sorghum but the rains disappeared in May. I lost over 5 acres of crops. Now that it’s raining in July, I planted again, this time holding on to hope the rains will not fail,” he explains. Anyuon Malwan, Area chief of Atarabara, Kapoeta South also describes the situation as dire: “This is the second round of maize I am planting this year that is now failing. At least last year I harvested once.” Some farmers have reached breaking point and abandoned farming altogether, turning to mining for gold instead. Travelling long distances, they camp at mines for weeks on end to try their luck at collecting a few grams of gold in the local streams. If they do get lucky, a gram can fetch around 50 US dollars. But this livelihood, too, is risky and highly dependent on the rainy season. Soaring food prices Failed harvests in much of the Horn of Africa, coupled with the international armed conflict in Ukraine and regional conflict, have led the price of grain and cereal in Kapoeta to increase drastically. “In 2021, we used to buy a kilo of maize flour at 300 South Sudanese Pounds (34 US cents), today the same packet goes for 1,300 (1.5 US dollars),” says Anyuon. Unable to cope with the inflation, many residents in the area have resorted to more affordable cereals, such as sorghum. Those who cannot afford grain at all are forced to scavenge for wild leaves in nearby forests. Children’s lives at risk This poor diet is having devastating consequences for children in the Kapoeta region. Yaya Christine Lawrence is a nurse at a stabilization centre for malnutrition in Kapoeta Civil Hospital. She attends to 3-year-old Lolimo, who was admitted on 22 July with severe oedema (swelling in the ankles, feet and legs) from poor nutrition. “When Lolimo came he was in a really bad state. We have been giving him treatment to clear the fluids before we can now start building up his weight. His case is one of the many hundreds we see in a month.” Lolimo’s mother, Joska, is a single parent and doing her best to raise him, but times are hard. “All I can afford to give him occasionally is sorghum and wild leaves. I have no source of livelihood to offer him a better diet,” she says. Supporting the most vulnerable Women-headed households are bearing the brunt of food insecurity in this part of South Sudan. The Kapoeta region is hardest hit with, with more than 274,000 people classed as severely food insecure. The South Sudan Red Cross (SSRC) recently conducted a needs assessment in the area, giving priority to women-headed households and people with disabilities, with a view to distributing cash to help them boost their livelihoods and put food on the table. Supported by the IFRC and the Japanese government, the SSRC is also actively training community members in Kapoeta in disaster preparedness, including early warning for drought and floods, in groups called Community Disaster Response Team (CDRT). To mitigate the negative effects of climate change, SSRC volunteers are also planting fruit trees, and distributing seedlings, in Juba and other branches across the country as part of its ‘green fund’ initiative. Mango and guava trees are more resistant to drought and only take a few years to start bearing fruit, so will provide a more reliable source of nutrients to local communities. “The needs related to food insecurity in Kapoeta region and South Sudan are great. If we can strengthen localized response capacity and the community structures, we can address the enormous and unprecedented level of humanitarian needs because of the frequency and intensity of climate-related hazards,” says John Lobor, Secretary General of South Sudan Red Cross. “Beyond responding to immediate food needs, we hope to build resilience, so families don’t have to grapple with climatic shocks year in, year out,” he adds. -- Click here to learn more about the IFRC’s response to the current hunger crisis in Sub-Saharan Africa. And to support people like Andrea, Anyuon and Joska, please donate to our Emergency Appeal today.

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24/05/2022 | Article

Angola food crisis: ‘Because of hunger I am here’

With her baby wrapped snugly around her back, Usenia Semaneli braves the Kunene River on foot, supported by nothing but a walking stick. “Crocodiles live in those waters,” she says, “but you stop fearing anything. When you are hungry, you just choose to cross.” “When I was young, we used to get good rain,” says Usenia, who takes a break from her journey to share her story. Exactly how many people have made the trek from Angola to Namibia in the last few years is unclear. People have crossed the border for years to visit relatives, buy or sell goods. But in 2020 and 2021 it’s estimated thatat least 3,000 people from Angola were living in various encampments and host communities around border towns in northern Namibia. They came from various parts of Angola and from different tribes, but they tell a similar story. No rain. Failed crops. Livestock gone. A long perilous journey to Namibia. The troubles began in 2020, as dryness persisted through what would normally be the rainy season, which typically runs from November to April.Many of those most affected are children, lactating mothers, and the elderly. “We ate just a little bit every day, but all the children started to get weak,” says Usenia. “When you spend so many days without food it’s like you are confused. You lose control of your mind and everything is just turning around in front of your eyes.” Deolinda We used to walk during the day and at sunset we went to sleep,” saysDeolinda, who made a ten-day trek to Namibia with her granddaughter Venonyaand some other children. “Food was a big challenge throughout the journey. We didn’t have any food but we had to keep on walking. It was tough for me because I was traveling alone with the children. The journey was difficult, but I received help from people who carried my children… Not knowing whether the baby would survive or even make it, I was hoping for the best but also preparing myself for the worst”, she says. “When we arrived, Venonya was severely malnourished, so we took her to Outapi Hospital,” says Deolinda. “At first, when I arrived at the hospital I was scared because I feared that the baby would die. It was difficult to even find a vein to put a drip in the child, so I was scared. After a while, my baby got better and I started to feel calmer. We returned to the camp only a week ago with Venonya recovered, she stayed in the hospital for a week and a half.” Mwandjukatji “It took us almost ten days traveling, walking,” says Mwandjukatji, who found her way to a camp for migrants close to the town of Omusati, near Namibia’s northwestern border with Angola. “On the way,some of my daughters lost their children. Sometimes when we woke up we tried giving the children some water but they wouldn’t open their mouths, they died on the way. We had to leave them behind.” They knew the journey would be perilous, but staying in the end was not an option. “For a time, we debated what to do, and for a long while, we refused to leave our land,” she says. “But the hunger was growing unbearable. Because of that hunger, we decided to go to Namibia. We thought maybe we will survive there.” Mwandjukatji found temporary respite in a shelter she made using sticks, cardboard and plastic. There, she got by on food provided by local agencies and relief groups such as theNamibian Red Cross. “We heard that there was a camp where they were giving food to people like us who came from Angola,” says Mwandjukatji. “We receive some food and that is an enormous relief for us, because if we weren’t here most of our children would die.” “This shelter is not as strong, not the same, as our home. For our homes, we used to use strong sticks and sand mixed with cow dung, plus we had a fire inside the house. This is not the same. We can’t have a fire inside, and when it rains, the water seeps in. But here we have food at least.” Konguari The migrants saythe kindness of strangers has been critical to their survival, be it local leaders who let them stay on their land, government authorities, the Namibian Red Cross, or local residents who offered various kinds of support. The man in a blue shirt above, named Konguari, ran a garden hose from houseto give out water every evening. “In Opuwo, it is not uncommon to see people, usually men, coming from Angola looking for work. When I saw many women and children arriving, I knew something wasn’t right. I noticed that, although they were hungry, they were growing desperate for water. Very often they went in the field walking for hours to get wood that they sold in the market. With the money they got from the firewood they immediately bought water. When I saw this, I said to myself, ‘no, this isn’t right. Could it be possible for me to assist these people?’” A steady source of support The Namibian Red Cross Society (NRCS)has also been a steady source of support, providing food, water, health and hygiene support. A significant proportion of the people they helped have been children: of the4,027 people assistedin the Etunda and Opuwo areas of Kunene region last year, more than half were between 1 and 16 year old. More than 400 were lactating or pregnant women. The NRCS is one of numerous Red Cross of Red Crescent National Societies working on the frontlines of climate-related displacement,according to a 2021 climate displacement report by the IFRC. Their work includes responding to crises and building resilience to future shocks by preparing for and reducing climate risks. Around the world, floods, storms, wildfires, landslides, extreme temperatures and drought have caused the displacement of 30.7 million people, according to the report. “Our government tries its best to help the immigrants from Angola, and different organisations also try to help,” says Rijamekee, a Namibian Red Cross volunteer who lives in Northern Namibia and provides displaced people and vulnerable local residents with food, water, and health and hygiene support. “Anyone, who is out there should try their best to help these people. And not only the Angolans but anyone who is in need”, he says. Mekondo Climate change does not affect everyone equally. Children, the elderly, people with physical disabilities and other vulnerable and marginalized people are hit the hardestbecause climate change compounds the challenges they already face. “For the most part I crawled until I reached Namibia,” says Mekondo, who made his way from Angola to Namibia on his hands and knees. “I wore double pants until they peeled and tore at the knees. For my hands I used a pair of sandals so that I could crawl on the pavement.” “Although I feel well here because I have food, I feel bad for my mother who is still in Angola. I left her under the care of another person, but they were also hungry and were looking for food. I don’t know what to do because I don’t have money and I can’t crawl back all the way through that difficult journey, so I don’t feel well thinking about my mother living there without any food.” Returning home? Recent rainfalls have allowed many of the migrants to return to Angola, while others remain in host communities in northern Namibia. But the risk is far from over. The recentrainfalls come late in what is normally the rainy season, and they weren’t nearly enough to sustain a season of crops. But people remain hopeful as many of these 21stcentury climate migrants have missed their homes and always wanted to return as soon as possible. “I miss home,” says Mwandjukatji. “But the problem is that if we went home we would always be worried about what we were going to eat that day. When the hunger started there we sold our hoes and all the tools that we used to cultivate in order to get food. So now we don’t have those things and if we return we don’t have tools to cultivate. How are we going to get those tools to start again?” -- This story was produced and originally published by the Red Cross Red Crescent Magazine. To learn about the Magazine, and to read more stories like this,click here.

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13/07/2023 | Article

7 disasters in the Americas in 2023 that you may not have heard about

Disasters and crises happen all the time around the world. Some make international headlines – like the earthquakes in Türkiye and Syria or the international armed conflict in Ukraine – but others go unheard of to people outside the countries where they strike. These smaller, lesser-known disasters still claim lives, destroy livelihoods, and set entire communities back. The Americas region alone has faced many small and medium-sized disasters so far this year. But while these disasters may have gone unnoticed to the wider world, Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies across the region have been there – right by the side of communities. The IFRC has supported – getting money to our National Societies quickly through our Disaster Response Emergency Fund (DREF) so they can prepare and respond effectively. Let’s take a look at seven disasters in the Americas you may not have heard about from the first half of 2023, and how the IFRC network has supported the people affected. 1. Chile - forest fires: In Febuary 2023, strong winds and high temperatures caused dozens of forest fires across central and southern Chile, leading to casualties and widespread damage. They followed earlier, destructive forest fires in December 2022 that spread rapidly around the city of Viña del Mar. With DREF funding, the Chilean Red Cross provided support to more than 5,000 people affected by the fires over the following months. Staff and volunteer teams provided medical support to communities and distributed cash so that people could buy the things they needed to recover. More information. 2. Uruguay - drought: Uruguay is currently experiencing widespread drought due to a lack of rainfall since September 2022 and increasingly high temperatures in the summer seasons—prompting the Uruguayan government to declare a state of emergency. The government officially requested the support of the Uruguayan Red Cross to conduct a needs assessment of the drought, so it could understand how it was impacting people and agricultural industries. With funding from the DREF, Uruguayan Red Cross teams headed out into the most-affected areas to speak to more than 1,300 familiesabout the drought’s impact on their health, livelihoods and access to water. Their findings are helping the government to make better-informed decisions on how to address the drought, taking into account the real needs of those affected. This is the first time DREF funding has been used to support a damage assessment in this way. More information. 3. Paraguay - floods: In February and March 2023, heavy rains in northern Paraguay caused severe flooding—forcing many families to abandon their homes and paralyzing key infrastructure and industries. The Paraguayan Red Cross responded, providing first aid and psychosocial support to people in temporary shelters. Volunteers also shared information with communities on how to protect themselves from water-borne diseases and from the increase in mosquitoes. More information. 4. Ecuador - floods, earthquake, and landslides: In the first quarter of 2023, Ecuador was struck by several, simultaneous disasters—floods, landslides, building collapses, hailstorms and an earthquake—that put the Ecuadorian Red Cross to the test. Their volunteers deployed quickly provided wide-ranging support to people affected--including shelter, health care, water, sanitation and cash assistance. They also conducted surveys to understand exactly how people had been affected, and what they most needed to recover. More information. 5. Argentina - floods: In June, heavy rains caused flash flooding in the municipality of Quilmes, Buenos Aires, affecting an estimated 4,000 families. The flooding caused power outages, road closures and a contamination of water supplies—prompting the local authorities to request the support of the Argentine Red Cross. Volunteer teams quickly mobilized to provide first aid and psychosocial support to people who had moved to evacuation centres in the area. In the coming weeks and months, the Argentine Red Cross – with DREF funding – will provide shelter, health, water, sanitation and hygiene support to 500 of the most vulnerable families affected by the floods. More information. 6. Haiti floods: Flash floods also struck Haiti in early June following an exceptionally heavy rainstorm that swept the entire country. Though not classified as a cyclone or tropical downpour, the rainstorm nonetheless affected thousands of families, claimed more than 50 lives and submerged entire houses. The Haitian Red Cross quicklydeployed rescue workers to provide first aid and assist with evacuations. Working alongside Movement partners, and with DREF support, they’ve also been distributing mattresses, shovels, rakes, hygiene kits, water treatment kits and plastic sheeting. In a country already experiencing a cholera epidemic, Haitian Red Cross volunteers continue to share important information with communities about how to stay healthy and adopt good hygiene practices—especially important due to the increased risk from flood waters. More information. 7. Dominican Republic - floods: This same rainstorm in Haiti also affected communities across the border in the Dominican Republic, causing flash flooding in the country’s west. The Dominican Red Cross has been providing humanitarian assistance in the form of search and rescue, evacuation, health and hygiene services, psychological first aid and restoring family links (RFL) services. More information. -- These are just a few examples of the many disasters that have hit the Americas so far this year. With DREF support, Red Cross Societies across the region have been able to respond quickly to these disasters—providing effective and local humanitarian assistance directly to those who need it. If you would like to help our network to continue responding to smaller disasters like these, please consider donating to our Disaster Response Emergency Fund today.

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29/03/2023 | Article

Somalia: Tackling malnutrition amid the drought

Across the Horn of Africa, people are entering their sixth rainy season without rain. For the last two and a half years the water that fills community water points, nourishes livestock, and grows vegetables, has not flowed. Surface water is gone and the sometimes green environment is dry and dusty. The ongoing drought, paired with conflict and rising food prices, has led to food insecurity, displacement, and the death of livestock. This, in turn, affects people's livelihoods and health, and leads to malnutrition. Across the country, Somali Red Crescent Society (SRCS) teams run static and mobile health clinics that serve rural and remote communities in hard to reach areas. These clinics provide basic health care and routine immunizations, as well as screening for malnutrition and providing nutritional support. The staff refer severe cases of malnutrition to larger medical centres and hospitals. In recent months, Somali Red Crescent Society (SRCS) teams have reported seeingincreasing numbers of children with malnutrition who need nutritional support. Here are some of the families they've been helping. Basra Ahmed Cabdale, brought her children to a Somali Red Crescent Society clinic near Borama to be screened for malnutrition. Her daughter, 3-year-old Nimco Adbikadir Hassan, was found to be moderately malnourished. Cabdale said that before the drought, her family would eat tomatoes and onions with sorghum and maize. They would also have milk and meat from their animals. However, without water, crops aren’t growing, livestock is dying and they need to sell off their animals to buy food and necessities at the local market. “Our biggest worry is the loss of our animals and the lack of food,” she said. “It takes two hours [to walk to the water point] and we have to form a long queue to get it.” Halima Mohmoud Abah visited the Somali Red Crescent Society clinic in a village near Berbera with four of her children. She was worried about the weight of her baby and her daughter Mardiye Abdullahi Ali, 4. While Mardiye had her height, weight, and arm circumference measured, Halima talked about some of her concerns. “There is a drought, water for livestock has been limited and there's not enough for crops,” she said. When Mardiye’s results come in, she is borderline malnourished. “I am worried for the health of the children,” she said. “If it continues, it will result in bad things... death, of animals and humans.” In the Somali Red Crescent Society clinic in Burao, the staff make sure all children who are acutely or moderately malnourished receive a high-calorie nutritional supplement – Plumpy'Sup or Plumpy'Nut. Children like Maslah Yasin Usman get their first supplement in the clinic, and their mothers are given enough to take home. His mother, Farhiya Abdi Ahmed, is one of many mothers who bring their children into this clinic in for screening. -- Somalia is one of many countries in Sub-Saharan Africa currently contending with one of the worst food crises in decades. The IFRC is supporting National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies in the region, including the Somali Red Crescent Society, to protect the lives, livelihoods and prospects of millions of people. Find out more about our Africa Hunger Crisis Appeal.

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19/12/2022 | Press release

Somalia: Likelihood of famine will increase by an estimated 25 per cent if displaced people don’t get the help they need

Nairobi/Geneva, 19 December 2022 - Somalia’s worst drought in 40 years is forcing more and more people to leave their homes in search of food security and greener pastures for livestock. Without special attention to displaced people, the likelihood of famine will increase by about 25 percent, according to estimations by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC). The ongoing hunger crisis in Somalia does not yet meet the threshold for a famine categorization, according to the latest report by theIntegrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC)—the international organization responsible for monitoring global hunger—but the situation is likely worsen in the coming months. IPC forecasts famine between April and June 2023 in parts of Somalia. Mohammed Mukhier, IFRC’s regional director for Africa explained: “Displacement is one of the four major factors, or ‘threat multipliers for famine’, in Somalia. The other three factors include worsening drought, increasing food prices and fighting. Addressing the unique needs of displaced people efficiently will reduce the probability of famine significantly.” Over one million people have been forced to leave their homes as the hunger crisis rages—and this number is expected to rise. The increasing number of displaced people in already overcrowded temporary settlements will limit access to clean water, sanitation, nutrition and health services. Further, although some displaced people live with their friends and relatives, this arrangement puts additional strain on host families, who share their limited food reserves with guests. Providing displaced people with tailormade humanitarian assistance is one of the most efficient ways of protecting host families from slipping into hunger themselves, while at the same time ensuring people on the move meet their nutritional needs. Bringing humanitarian assistance to families who are continually on the move is one of the greatest challenges aid workers face. One of the methods used by Somali Red Crescent teams, supported by the IFRC, is to reach nomadic communities with mobile clinicsto provide basic health services in remote regions of the country. Some of the urgent actions needed to reduce the likelihood of famine include the strengthening of health and nutrition services, cash assistance and shelter. Mukhier added: “We reiterate our call to prioritize the growing hunger crisis in Somalia, the country’s worst drought in 40 years. As an organisation, our focus is on displaced people, because of our unique ability to reach them with assistance.” The Somali Red Crescent Society has a countrywide network of branches and a large number of volunteers in all parts of the country. It also has a wide network of health facilities. Red Crescent teams’ focus is on delivering cash to families to meet their food, health and other urgent needs. Cash gives people the freedom to choose what they need most to help their families stay healthy and is more convenient for nomadic communities who would otherwise need to carry in-kind aid with them as they move. According to IPC, the April-June 2023 rainy season is likely to be below normal and there is a 62 per cent probability that cumulative rainfall will be within the lowest tercile. This will represent the sixth season of below-average rainfall. Food prices will also remain high, and insecurity will limit access to markets and will impede humanitarian assistance. Displaced people will be among the most affected. For more information, please contact: In Nairobi: Euloge Ishimwe, +254 735 437 906, [email protected] In Dakar: Moustapha DIALLO, +221 77 450 10 04 [email protected] In Geneva: Jenelle Eli, +1 202 603 6803 [email protected]

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08/10/2022 | Emergency

Africa: Hunger crisis

Sub-Saharan Africa is experiencing one of the most alarming food crises in decades—immense in both its severity and geographic scope.Roughly 146 million people are suffering from acute food insecurity and require urgent humanitarian assistance. The crisis is driven by a range of local and global factors, including insecurity and armed conflict, extreme weather events, climate variability and negative macroeconomic impacts. Through this regional Emergency Appeal, the IFRC is supporting many Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies across Africa to protect the lives, livelihoods and prospects of millions of people.

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01/09/2022 | Article

Confronting the environmental causes of Africa’s food crisis

This blog was originally posted on the WWF website here. Africa is facing its worst food crisis in 40 years. Nearly 114 million people across sub-Saharan Africa – a figure approaching half the entire population of the United States – face severe food insecurity. In Eastern Africa, 50 million people are at risk. Across the Sahel, the number of people needing emergency food assistance has quadrupled to 30 million in the past seven years. The causes of this current crisis are manifold. Conflict and the economic downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic have played their part. But more significantly, the continent has been wracked by prolonged drought, flooding and swarms of desert locusts – natural hazards, exacerbated by man-made climate change and the degradation of nature. It is the most vulnerable who are bearing the brunt of the current hunger crisis. Men and women are losing their livelihoods as crops fail, animals starve or die of thirst, and soil is washed away. Children go hungry, and their education is abandoned. Women eat less, and drought means dietary requirements, especially for young girls, pregnant and lactating women, and menstrual hygiene are relegated. There is an urgent need for life-saving humanitarian assistance in all countries in Africa. Organizations such as Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies are stepping up their actions, with the IFRC, governments and partners, to provide this urgent support. But they recognize, as does WWF, the need to also build resilience to shocks and to address the root causes of food insecurity. A changing climate Many underlying causes can be found in the twin environmental crises of climate and nature loss, which are compounded with the crises caused by factors including poverty and conflict. The rising levels of greenhouse gases in our atmosphere – primarily from the rich and middle-income countries of the global North – are driving temperature rises that are disrupting weather and climate patterns and degrading natural ecosystems. Climate change is making extreme weather events worse, more frequent and more trans-boundary. It is changing patterns of precipitation, undermining water and food security. It is impacting human health, as well as putting additional stress on nature and biodiversity, exacerbating pressures from land-use change, over-exploitation, pollution and invasive species. Presently, around 30 per cent of all greenhouse gas emissions come from food systems. Not only are food choices in rich, urban areas leading to a health crisis of obesity and non-communicable disease, but the over-consumption of unsustainably produced foods, and inefficient and wasteful behaviours across all value chains, are directly contributing to food insecurity in Africa. This underscores the urgent imperative for rich countries to reduce emissions as quickly as possible. Even if all other sectors linearly decarbonise by 2050, business as usual food systems will account for nearly the whole carbon budget of a 2 degree future. While around 89 countries have pledged to reach net-zero emissions by the middle of this century (which would still not deliver the emissions cuts needed to limit warming to 1.5°C), few have yet developed the suite of policies and regulations that will put them on a net-zero trajectory. Many vulnerable communities in Africa need to be supported in the face of climate shocks by strengthening their capacity to respond, reducing their risk exposure and building their resilience. There is much that can and should be done to directly help vulnerable communities and ecosystems in Africa today and in the decades to come. Urgent investment must be made to help vulnerable communities adapt to the current impacts of climate change, and to become more resilient to climate shocks yet to come. Critically, this involves building a shared understanding, securing financing and enacting favourable policies so that governments, NGOs and the private sector in Africa can recognise the threats posed by the impacts of climate change and implement the urgent solutions needed to help local people adapt. The link between climate and nature Significant solutions also exist that use nature to both mitigate greenhouse gas emissions and to help communities to adapt and become more climate resilient. The world’s land, oceans and freshwater systems already absorb and store half of the emissions humankind produces each year: protecting, restoring and enhancing ecosystems will be critical to addressing climate change. Food systems can also be a major part of the solution to the nature and climate crises. Investment in nature-based solutions – such as adopting agroecological food production practices, forest conservation, protecting wetlands or enhancing coastal ecosystems – can help store emissions, protect communities from extreme weather events, and provide food, jobs and habitats. Such solutions, if high quality, well-designed and properly funded, can help build climate resilience. But as well as individual projects, climate impacts and vulnerabilities, and the protection of nature, must be integrated into public- and private-sector decision-making at every level across the continent. The extent of the challenge posed by climate and nature loss means that they need to be considered across all levels of decision-making and by economic actors large and small. The current food crisis faced by millions across Africa demands urgent humanitarian aid. But, without a much more comprehensive and long-term, locally-led, people-centred response to climate change and biodiversity loss, humanitarian resources will be stretched beyond breaking point. --- The IFRC is partnering withWWF, the world's largest environmental conservation organization, to work with nature and protect people from the climate crisis. Click here to learn more about our partnership.

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05/07/2022 | Article

“Hunger is one of the most undignified sufferings of humanity”: Tackling food insecurity in Africa and beyond

Food insecurity is not a new phenomenon. But the recent escalation in severity and geographical spread of chronic hunger is serious cause for alarm. The hunger crisis is most starkly felt on the African continent, where many regions, notably the Horn of Africa, Sahel and Lake Chad regions, are experiencing the worst food crisis in decades. Millions of people are facing hunger across Africa—prompting the IFRC to launch Emergency Appeals for hunger crises in Nigeria, Somalia, Kenya, Ethiopia, Niger and Angola all within the past year. Back in May, I met some of those affected whilevisiting drought-affected areas in Marsabit County, Kenya—where levels of malnutrition are among the highest on the continent. I saw first-hand the level of suffering caused by a severe lack of rainfall over four consecutive seasons, coupled with pre-existing vulnerability in parts of the County. Children, young mothers and the elderly are most affected and facing near depletion of their livelihoods. Although this hunger crisis is, to a large extent, climate-induced, it is also driven by the effects of widespread locust swarms, disease outbreaks, conflict and insecurity, and economic slowdowns—including those triggered by COVID-19. Furthermore, the ongoing conflict in Ukraine is disrupting the global trade of food, fertilizers and oil products, with prices of agricultural products reaching record highs. Eastern Africa, for instance, gets 90 per cent of its imported wheat from Russia and Ukraine (source: WFP), and the conflict has led to significant shortages. The Ukraine crisis has also diverted both the attention and resources from other crises. While Ukraine is an extremely worrying crisis, affecting millions, we cannot afford to lose sight of other urgent crises around the world. Not least of which is the rapidly deteriorating food security situation in many parts of Africa. The clock is ticking and soon it may be too late to avert a widespread tragedy. So the question that should concern us all is: what can we do, as a humanitarian collective, to avoid the tragic history of the early 1980s repeating itself? We need urgent and massive action to scale up life-saving assistance to millions of people on the verge of collapsing, but also to decisively address the root causes of this crisis through longer term commitments. The IFRC has an important and unique role to play. With our unparalleled community reach and expertise, our 100+ years of humanitarian experience, our ability to act both locally and globally, and our National Societies’ special status as auxiliaries to public authorities—we can turn this tide. But we need the resources to do so. Our collective immediate priority is to muster life-saving support, within and outside our IFRC network, for the next six months—paying particular attention to the Horn of Africa, Central Sahel and other hot spots across the continent. During this emergency phase, we will focus our support on the things we know from experience will make the most difference to affected people’s lives and livelihoods: food assistance, cash programmes and nutrition support. At the same time, we will develop longer-term programming, together with interested National Societies, to address the root causes of food insecurity. We will build on our previous successes and work in support of governments’ plans and frameworks to restore the resilience of the most impoverished communities, including displaced populations. Everything we do will be underpinned by solid data and meaningful community engagement to ensure that our response is evidence-based and tailor-made. Hunger is one of the most undignified sufferings of humanity. To alleviate human suffering, we must rise to this challenge through collective mobilization and action—both in the immediate and long-term. We simply cannot afford to do too little, too late. --- Since 2020: The IFRC network reached 4.8 million people with food assistance and non-food items, combining all humanitarian response operations (Emergency Appeals, DREFs and our COVID-19 response) More than 20 African National Societies have been implementing food security-related projects as part of their regular programming 33 African National Societies have increased their capacity to deliver cash and voucher assistance Click here to learn more about the IFRC’s work in food security and livelihoods. You may also be interested in reading: 'To beat Africa’s hunger crises, start with long-term planning' -opinion piece in Devex by IFRC Regional Director for Africa, Mohammed Omer Mukhier-Abuzein 'Because of hunger, I am here' - photo story from the Red Cross Red Crescent Magazine about Angolan refugees fleeing to Namibia due to the drought and resulting lack of food and water And scroll down to learn more about our active Emergency Appeals for food insecurity in Africa and beyond.

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17/06/2022 | Press release

Afghanistan: Hunger and poverty surge as drought persists

Kuala Lumpur/Kabul/Geneva 17 June – The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is calling for increased global support to stem spiralling hunger in Afghanistan as one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises threatens millions. Intense summer heat and a weak spring rainy season have effectively spelled doom for a meaningful harvest in the country. Amidst mounting poverty, 70 percent of households are unable to meet basic food and non-food needs, with particularly devastating effects for homes headed by widows, the elderly, people with disabilities, and children. An estimated 3 million children are at risk of malnutrition and susceptible to diseases such as acute watery diarrhoea and measles due to weakened immunity. Thousands of people have resorted to begging in the streets, with prices of essential items soaring in the face of declining remittances, a crumbling economy and rising poverty. Dr Mohammad Nabi Burhan, Secretary General of Afghan Red Crescent, said: “This is one of the worst humanitarian crises I have seen in Afghanistan, in more than 30 years as a humanitarian aid worker. It is horrifying to see the extent of hunger and resurgence of poverty that we have fought so hard to eradicate. “It is particularly worrying for Afghans in rural and remote areas, where some of the country’s poorest communities face widespread destitution and very high levels of malnutrition after their crops failed or livestock perished. “A lack of food should not be a cause of death in Afghanistan. There needs to be a concerted international effort to continue critical humanitarian assistance across the country so that lives can be saved.” Afghan Red Crescent is ramping up its response operation using available funds, giving immediate priority to food and cash distributions as well as providing health services via more than 140 health facilities across Afghanistan. However, the latest reports show much more assistance will be needed. Necephor Mghendi, IFRC’s Head of Delegation for Afghanistan, said: “The increasing economic hardship is a bitter blow for families in Afghanistan who are trying to cope with one of the worst droughts and food crises they have ever faced, leaving children malnourished and far more vulnerable to preventable disease. “As well as providing critical relief to people struggling in the face of severe drought and hunger, livelihood interventions should be supported to enable people to restore means of earning an income. “There is also a need for investment in local institutions that deliver vital services in the cities as well as remote areas. Locally staffed, well-functioning institutions are proven to help the most vulnerable, including children, women, and the elderly in every corner of Afghanistan.” As part of this ongoing support, the IFRC is urgently appealing to the international community for 80 million Swiss francs to support the Afghan Red Crescent to deliver emergency relief, health services and recovery assistance to more than 1 million people in the provinces hit by multiple crises. For more information or to arrange an interview, contact: Asia Pacific Office: Joe Cropp, +61 491 743 089, [email protected]

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06/05/2022 | Press release

Horn of Africa: IFRC Secretary General visits Kenya as worst drought in 40 years looms for millions 

Nairobi/Geneva, 6 May 2022—The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies Secretary General Jagan Chapagain ends a three-day visit to Kenya, and he is calling for a massive scale-up of humanitarian and long-term assistance to communities affected by the growing hunger crisis in the Horn of Africa. Speaking at the end of a visit to Marsabit, one of Kenya’s areas that has been hardest hit by the effects of drought, Mr Chapagain said: “I have seen firsthand the level of suffering caused by drought in Marsabit. There are highly unacceptable levels of malnutrition, a global acute malnutrition (GAM) rate of 53.6 per cent in this particular ward - one of the highest in Africa. The situation is rapidly deteriorating. We need immediate humanitarian assistance to reach the most vulnerable. We also need long term solutions that address the impact of climate change including investment in resilient livelihoods.” Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia are facing a large-scale, climate-induced, and protracted humanitarian crisis with over 14 million people food insecure and in urgent need of humanitarian assistance including at least 5.5 million children facing acute malnutrition. 6.1 million people in Ethiopia and 4.1 million people in Somalia are in urgent need of humanitarian assistance. In Kenya, 3.5 million people are acutely food insecure, with eastern and northern Kenya’s most arid and semi-arid lands experiencing critical drought conditions. This silent disaster has been overshadowed—and to a significant extent amplified—by the Ukraine crisis.  “It isn’t just food and water that people need here. In the background there are unseen issues such as sexual and gender-based violence, and the profound impacts on mental health. An example given was of women walking over 40 km to reach potable water – what happens on the journey is unthinkable,” added Mr Chapagain. Dr Asha Mohammed, Secretary General of the Kenya Red Cross Society, who was also in Marsabit, said:   “The fact that people in Marsabit have lost over 70 per cent of their livestock, which is their main source of livelihood, means that it will be a long and slow path to recovery. Our teams are playing a central role in reducing the risks that families are facing. They have provided cash assistance, food assistance and improved water treatment practices, but the need to rehabilitate water systems remains urgent. We call all our partners and stakeholders to support our efforts.” In response to the hunger and drought situation in Kenya, Somalia and Ethiopia, the IFRC, the Kenya Red Cross, Ethiopia Red Cross and Somali Red Crescent are jointly appealing for 39 million Swiss francs. This funding will allow Red Cross and Red Crescent volunteers and staff to assist 1,560,000 people by scaling up their emergency and humanitarian assistance and recovery activities and tackling the root causes of food insecurity. This strategy is aligned with the IFRC’s Pan African Zero Hunger Initiative that undertakes a holistic approach to food security, integrating specific interventions for rapid nutrition, food security and livelihood support for acute food-insecure households and communities with a long-term strategy working towards zero hunger and sustainable recovery. “Food is a basic need of the population. We call upon every government in Africa to ensure they have the right policy framework to deal with drought,” said Mr Chapagain. To request an interview with representatives from the IFRC or Kenya Red Cross, or for more information, please contact:  In Nairobi:   IFRC - Euloge Ishimwe, +254 731 688 613, [email protected] Kenya Red Cross - Peter Abwao, +254 711 590911, [email protected]   In Geneva: IFRC – Benoit Carpentier, +41 79 213 2413, [email protected]   

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22/03/2022 | Press release

Afghanistan: Food shortages escalate as spring fields remain bare

Kuala Lumpur/Kabul/Geneva, 22 March –The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is raising grave fears for millions of Afghans and farming communities as fields remain bare of the annual spring crops. The ongoing drought means that the area planted with winter wheat is well below average. Field reports indicate that half the ground normally sown with wheat was fallow at the end of the planting window in December. Hunger is worsening in Afghanistan, with 95 per cent of the population going without enough food to eat every day, according to the United Nations. The few crops which were planted are likely to face harsh conditions, with La Nina expected to bring drier than normal conditions in the coming months, extending the severe drought into a second year. Mawlawi Mutiul Haq Khales, Afghan Red Crescent Acting President, said: “Millions of families rely on farming, but they already lost last year’s crops to the severe drought, leaving them without grain to get through the harsh winter or seeds to sow in the fields. “Without seeds in the ground, there will be no harvest in spring and summer, creating a real risk of famine across Afghanistan, where nearly 23 million people are already unable to feed themselves every day. “We need to ramp up our efforts to support these communities with relief as they brace for a second year of drought and food shortages, while working to sustain livelihoods that are so important for families and entire communities.” The drought crisis has fuelled an economic crisis in a country where agriculture is critical for people’s livelihoods and the mainstay of the economy. More than 70 percent of Afghanistan’s population live in rural areas and around 80 percent of livelihoods depend on agriculture, according to the latest IPC Afghanistan food security data. Afghan Red Crescent, supported by the IFRC, is working with farming communities to have more sustainable water sources, drought resistant crops and other income generation opportunities for women in regional parts of the country. Johanna Arvo, IFRC’s Acting Head of Delegation for Afghanistan, said: “The ravages of climate change mean risks and hardship are skyrocketing for people in Afghanistan. Millions of people have faced two severe droughts in four years, causing catastrophic crop failures and devastating food shortages. “Temperatures are rising, leading to reduced snowfall cover, snowmelt and water supplies. Rainfall is becoming more erratic, decimating agriculture in Afghanistan. “As well as providing immediate relief, we must invest much more in the future by helping Afghans to establish more sustainable water supplies and drought resistant crops, while supporting income generation for the most at risk, including women and the elderly.” As part of this ongoing support, the IFRC is urgently appealing to the international community for more than 65 million Swiss francs to support the Afghan Red Crescent to deliver health services, emergency relief and recovery assistance to more than 1 million people in the provinces hit by multiple crises. For more information or to arrange an interview, contact: Asia Pacific Office: Antony Balmain, +60 12 230 8451, [email protected] Asia Pacific Office: Joe Cropp, +61 491 743 089, [email protected]

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15/12/2021 | Press release

Over 57 million affected by climate disasters across Asia Pacific in 2021

Kuala Lumpur, 15 December 2021 – Asia and the Pacific have experienced relentless and unpredictable climate-related disasters in 2021, severely affecting more than 57 million people during the peak of the global pandemic. In 2021, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) has launched 26 new operations, 15 of which are climate-related disaster responses. The IFRC is still responding to a further 21 disasters across Asia and the Pacific, from previous years. South Asia has been the worst hit this year, with millions of people affected by multiple disasters and little time to recover from one to the next. In India, more than 18 million people have been severely impacted by floods and cyclones this year, according to data from the Indian Government, Disaster Management Division. In Bangladesh, more than half a million people have been swamped by floods, with hundreds of villages marooned for weeks at a time. Around one third of Nepal suffered floods or landslides with many occurring outsides of the traditional monsoon season. Jessica Letch, IFRC Emergency Operations Manager said: “For much of this year, millions of families across Asia have been reeling after multiple blows from successive disasters and the devastating impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. “From India to Indonesia, in Nepal and Bangladesh, our health and emergency teams are reporting livelihoods shattered by frequent and unpredictable climate disasters.” In China’s Henan Province, 13.9 million people were affected by severe flooding in July. In Southeast Asia, Indonesia has been worst affected by disasters, with more than one million people swamped by floods in the past month alone, according to the Indonesian Government Regional Disaster Authority. Drought, combined with associated economic collapse – which unfolds slowly but with devastating consequences – is affecting more than 22.8 million people in Afghanistan, according to the latest Integrated Food Security data. Other countries across Asia have also been hit by multiple disasters. Nearly one million people were swamped by flooding in Thailand, more than half a million people affected by floods and typhoons in the Philippines and over 125,000 people hit by floods in Myanmar. Pacific Island countries also faced significant flooding due to storms and rising sea tides. “Responding to disasters at the height of the COVID pandemic has involved some of the most complex operations and the changing climate is throwing unpredictable floods and storms at millions of people, making life even tougher,” said Jessica Letch. “As risks mount with climate change, the IFRC is investing in anticipatory early warning systems to better prepare communities to act before disasters strike, to reduce the loss of lives and livelihoods.” For more information or to arrange an interview, contact: In Kuala Lumpur: Antony Balmain, +60 12 230 8451, [email protected]

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03/12/2021 | Press release

EU and IFRC support people affected by the water crisis and drought in Syria

Damascus, 3 December 2021 – In response to the severe water crisis and drought in Syria, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) has released 748,000 CHF (709,000 EUR) from its Disaster Relief Emergency Fund. The European Union is providing CHF 158.000 (150,000 EUR) in humanitarian funding to assist the most affected people. The funding is part of the EU's overall contribution to the Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF) of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC). The funds released to the IFRC will help the Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC) cater to the humanitarian needs of 15,000 people with food and health interventions over six months in Al Raqqa and Deir-ez-Zor, which are some of the most affected localities. Since January 2021, Syria has been witnessing extreme drought conditions coupled with unprecedented low water levels of the Euphrates River leading to poor agricultural production and loss of livelihoods. Millions of people are now experiencing worsening food insecurity and increasing malnutrition rates. The Syrian Arab Red Crescent volunteers and community health promoters will distribute food parcels and engage in hygiene promotion and disease prevention through awareness-raising about waterborne diseases and COVID-19. Background Through the European Commission's Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations department, the European Union helps millions of victims of conflict and disasters every year. With headquarters in Brussels and a global network of field offices, the European Union provides assistance to the most vulnerable people on the basis of humanitarian needs. The European Union is signatory to a €3 million humanitarian delegation agreement with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) to support the Federation's Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF). Funds from the DREF are mainly allocated to “small-scale” disasters – those that do not give rise to a formal international appeal. The Disaster Relief Emergency Fund was established in 1985 and is supported by contributions from donors. Each time a National Red Cross or Red Crescent Society needs immediate financial support to respond to a disaster, it can request funds from the DREF.For small-scale disasters, the IFRC allocates grants from the Fund, which can then be replenished by the donors. The delegation agreement between the IFRC and EU humanitarian aid enables the latter to replenish the DREF for agreed operations (that fit in with its humanitarian mandate) up to a total of €3 million. For more information, please contact: Rana Sidani Cassou, Head of Communications – IFRC MENA: Mobile +41766715751 / +33675945515 [email protected] Anouk Delafortrie, Regional Information Officer – European Humanitarian Aid MENA: Mobile +962 777 57 0203 [email protected]

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02/12/2021 | Press release

Afghanistan: Worst drought and hunger crisis in decades

Kuala Lumpur/Kabul/Geneva, 2 December – Afghanistan is in the grip of one of the worst droughts and food shortage crises in decades, threatening an unrivalled humanitarian catastrophe as a bitter winter looms large for millions of Afghans. Emergency food relief and winter survival kits are being urgently delivered by Afghan Red Crescent to people in areas worst affected by severe food shortages, supported by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC). Around 22.8 million people – 55 per cent of Afghanistan’s population – are experiencing high levels of acute food shortages. Severe drought has hit more than 80 percent of the country, crippling food production and forcing people from their land. Nearly 700,000 people have been internally displaced this year, joining some 3.5 million people already forced from their homes throughout the country, who all face a harsh winter, when temperatures can drop as low as -20C in some areas of Afghanistan. Mawlawi Mutiul Haq Khales, Afghan Red Crescent Acting President, said: “Afghans have shown remarkable resilience in the face of this latest drought, growing hunger and decades of conflict. Millions of people are struggling to survive due to wholescale crop losses, acute food shortages, and a lack of cash to buy basic necessities. “Afghan Red Crescent teams have not stopped helping people with relief and healthcare, but the vast majority of families remain unassisted, lacking adequate food provisions, money for the very basic needs and survival kits to get through the harsh winter months ahead.” The IFRC is providing 3,000 tonnes of food relief for 210,000 people and winter survival kits are being urgently delivered by Afghan Red Crescent in some of the hardest hit provinces for those suffering shortages and loss of income. To mitigate the misery and hardships of winter, families are being provided with winter kits, including blankets, thermal insulation and heaters but additional funding is needed to expand the humanitarian operations. As part of this ongoing support, the IFRC is urgently appealing to the international community for more than 36 million Swiss francs to support Afghan Red Crescent to deliver emergency relief and recovery assistance to 560,000 people in 16 provinces worst affected by severe drought and displacement. Alexander Matheou, Asia Pacific Director, IFRC, who is currently in Afghanistan, said: “This is the worst drought and hunger crisis faced by Afghans in living memory. Much faster international action is needed to avoid a humanitarian catastrophe in the coming months. “We are in a race against time to deliver life-saving relief and supplies ahead of a harsh winter which will cut off some of Afghanistan's most vulnerable people from any chance of assistance. “People are already going hungry in Afghanistan and conditions are continuing to deteriorate. I have spoken to doctors who are reporting increased cases of acute malnutrition amongst children. It will only get worse in the weeks ahead.” As well as immediate relief, IFRC appeal funds will help with establishing more drought-resistant crops and revitalising livestock, while supporting critical income generation for women, the elderly and those most at risk of spiralling poverty. For more information or to arrange an interview, contact: In Kuala Lumpur: Antony Balmain, +60 12 230 8451, [email protected] In Geneva: Ann Vaessen, +41 79 405 77 50, [email protected]

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30/09/2021 | Press release

Afghanistan faces collapse of health services and mass hunger

Kuala Lumpur/Kabul/Geneva, 30 September - The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) warns that Afghanistan faces imminent collapse of health services and widespread hunger if aid and money do not flow into the country within weeks. Acute food shortages fuelled by serious drought, lack of cash and displacement, the COVID-19 pandemic and crippled health services have converged on the people of Afghanistan, with some 18 million Afghans in urgent need of humanitarian assistance. Speaking from Kabul where he has been on a four-day official visit, Alexander Matheou, IFRC Asia Pacific Director said: “After living through decades of fleeing and fighting, Afghans now face a severe drought which has devastated food production, leaving millions hungry and destitute. “We are deeply concerned that Afghanistan faces imminent collapse of health services and worsening hunger if aid and money do not flow into the country within weeks. Health financing has been cut across the country placing ever more demand on Red Crescent teams. “Urgent international action is needed to support millions of people with the necessities of life as Afghanistan’s looming harsh winter threatens greater misery and hardships.” Afghan Red Crescent is providing support in some of the hardest hit provinces, including relief supplies to families suffering food shortages and loss of income. Red Crescent has been providing families who have lost their livelihoods due to the drought with cash grants to buy food, to plant drought-resistant food crops and protect their livestock. Health clinics, including mobile teams of doctors and nurses, are providing critical care across Afghanistan. As part of this ongoing support, the IFRC is urgently appealing to the international community for more than 36 million Swiss francs to support Afghan Red Crescent to deliver emergency relief and recovery assistance to 560,000 people in 16 provinces worst affected by severe drought and displacement. “Afghan Red Crescent has a long history of helping people living in areas other agencies are unable to reach. Red Crescent teams are ramping up critical maternal and child healthcare, food assistance and other emergency relief, but much more support is needed. “IFRC appeal funds will be used to help with sustainable water supplies, establishing more drought-resistant crops and revitalising livestock, while supporting critical income generation for those most at risk of spiralling poverty, including women and the elderly.” For more information or to arrange an interview, contact: In Kuala Lumpur: Antony Balmain, +60 12 230 8451 [email protected] In Geneva: Nathalie Perroud, +41 79 538 14 71 [email protected] IFRC is the world’s largest humanitarian network, comprising 192 National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies working to save lives and promote dignity around the world. www.ifrc.org - Facebook - Twitter - YouTube

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04/08/2021 | Press release

Afghanistan: Over 80% of country in serious drought

Kabul, Kuala Lumpur, Geneva, 4 August 2021– The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) urges greater international support for millions of people in Afghanistan who are suffering due to worsening drought, COVID-19 and armed conflict. The President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan officially declared a drought on 22 June, indicating that 30 percent of country is exposed to severe drought, 50 percent to serious drought and another 20 percent to moderate drought. Afghanistan’s wheat crop will be reduced by nearly 2 million tonnes and more than 3 million livestock are at risk of death, according to the government. The drought declaration comes as COVID-19 is further worsening existing health and socio-economic hardships across the country while ongoing hostilities are displacing thousands, all left to rely on humanitarian assistance. Dr Nilab Mobarez, the Afghan Red Crescent Society Acting President, said: “We are seeing the devastating impacts of this drought on millions of people who are suffering from severe food and water shortages in most areas of Afghanistan. Food crops are depleted and withered in the fields, and many people have lost their incomes. “Afghan Red Crescent response teams are urgently delivering relief, including food and cash assistance, for thousands of drought-affected families across bone-dry provinces.” “Our network of branches in all 34 provinces of Afghanistan and volunteers in each district enable us to deliver humanitarian assistance even in hard-to-reach areas. Afghan Red Crescent is recognized and widely accepted by parties to the conflict because of its neutrality and impartiality, thus well-placed to reach communities which would otherwise be left behind.” The IFRC isappealing for 15 million Swiss francsto support the Afghan Red Crescent Society to deliver cash grants to buy food supplies, restore livelihoods and crops for 280,000 people in 13 of the provinces worst affected by drought. Necephor Mghendi, IFRC’s Head of Delegation for Afghanistan, said: “Climate disasters, COVID-19 and conflict are converging in a living nightmare for the people of Afghanistan. Millions are going without meals every day and in some parts water is running dry. This is one of the most severe droughts ever in Afghanistan. “Urgent international action is needed to support more than 18 million people who will need humanitarian support in Afghanistan this year due to this drought and food crisis, compounding impacts of record COVID-19 and many years of armed conflict. “We have learnt from previous drought interventions that we must also invest more in drought-resistant crops, protecting livelihoods and livestock.” For more information or to arrange an interview, contact: In Kuala Lumpur:Antony Balmain, +60 12 230 8451, [email protected] In Geneva:Nathalie Perroud, +41 79 538 14 71,[email protected]

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06/09/2021 | Emergency

Afghanistan: Humanitarian crises

Afghanistan is experiencing the compounding effects of decades of conflict, severe drought, food insecurity, climate-related disasters, earthquakes, floods, displacement and gaps in health services. This revised Emergency Appeal seeks 90 million Swiss francs, increased from an initial 36 million Swiss francs in August 2021, to further scale up the Afghan Red Crescent Society's (ARCS) humanitarian response to multiple humanitarian crises in Afghanistan. Funds raised enable the IFRC to support the ARCS to deliver assistance and support to 1,000,000 people in all 34 provinces.

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