Rains pose new risk to famine survivors
Vaccination urgently needed to protect children
Millions of people who survive the famine gripping the Horn of Africa will be at risk of fatal disease when the rainy season begins, it was warned yesterday.
Andrew Mitchell, the Secretary of State for International Development, said that urgent vaccination programmes were needed to protect the most vulnerable, especially children.
"What will kill people is not only starvation. When the rains come, water-borne disease will cut like a knife through the immune system of children," he told The Independent on Sunday during a visit to Uganda.
Aid charities are also warning of the threat posed by the rainy season, expected to begin next month. Jeremy Loveless, Oxfam's humanitarian adviser, said: "People are destitute, and it will take a long time for them to be able to build up their assets again. Rain will also bring added problems of disease and flooding."
According to new UN data, there are now 13.3 million people in Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia who face starvation, up almost a million in a month. Meanwhile, there is a $1bn (£630,00) shortfall in the funding needed to save lives, in a crisis which is expected to last another 12 months.
Mr Mitchell travelled to the Karamoja region of north-eastern Uganda to see the results of British aid investment in long-term food security.
"In Somalia it is an absolutely desperate situation, with horrific rates of malnutrition," he said. "The contrast between what is happening in Karamoja and Somalia is acute, and underlines absolutely the reasons why we are spending our development budget in such a careful way."
Britain used to spend £28 per head on emergency aid in Karamoja. The new project will cost £33 per person for the next three years, but will help 445,000 out of long-term poverty.
Mr Mitchell also visited a family planning clinic and a feeding centre, where he saw the results of UK investment at first hand. "I met Immaculate, a 16-year-old girl who had to leave school after her father died five months ago," he said. "But thanks to a programme Britain was supporting, she was able to get back into school. She wanted to be a teacher."
He acknowledged opposition in Britain to the Government's promise to increase aid spending to 0.7 per cent of GDP by 2013 at a time of austerity at home, and stressed the need to ensure value for money.
"This is not only about the British aid programme but also the generosity of the British public," he said. "People up and down the country have given generously to the Disasters Emergency Committee appeal."
Give a day's pay for Africa
You've already raised an amazing £127,000:
Nearly 13 million people are at risk of dying from hunger in the Horn of Africa as a result of the worst drought in 60 years. Two million children under the age of five are malnourished and 500,000 are severely malnourished. The Independent on Sunday is asking readers, their friends and families to join its senior staff and each pledge one day's pay to the Disasters Emergency Committee appeal. High-profile figures from the worlds of politics, sport and the arts are backing us. Together, The Independent on Sunday and its sister title, The Independent, have so far raised more than £127,000. Thank you!
Join up – and help the starving
To join our 'Give a day's pay for Africa' campaign, go to independent.co.uk/giveadayspay. All donations are welcome – to give £5, enough to buy high-energy food supplements to save five children a day, text INDY to 70000. And spread the word on Twitter using the hashtag #Giveadayspay
- 1 What, let gays get married? We must be bonkers
- 2 'Something passed underneath us, quite close': Airbus A320 has close encounter with UFO
- 3 Rocky Horror star Tim Curry 'suffers major stroke'
- 4 Lord of the Sings: Sir Christopher Lee, 91, to release heavy metal album
- 5 Exclusive: Woolwich killings suspect Michael Adebolajo was inspired by cleric banned from UK after urging followers to behead enemies of Islam
BMF is the UK’s biggest and best loved outdoor fitness classes
Find out what The Independent's resident travel expert has to say about one of the most beautiful small cities in the world
Nook is donating eReaders to volunteers at high-need schools and participating in exclusive events throughout the campaign.
Get the latest on The Evening Standard's campaign to get London's children reading.
Win anything from gadgets to five-star holidays on our competitions and offers page.