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ReliefWeb - Updates

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    Source: American Red Cross
    Country: Haiti, Malawi, Nigeria, Panama, Philippines (the), Syrian Arab Republic (the)

    Posted December 17, 2012

    Natural disasters and conflict worldwide have left many people in need in recent weeks. From the devastating effects of Typhoon Bopha in the Philippines to the ongoing recovery operations after Hurricane Sandy swept through the Caribbean, these crises have mobilized the global Red Cross network.


    Malawi Food Crisis

    As a result of low food production and an economic crisis, Malawi is facing a critical food shortage, affecting an estimated 1.9 million people. Heavy rains and flooding followed by a prolonged dry spell resulted in a poor harvest this fall. The food shortage is concentrated in central and southern Malawi, and is exacerbated by fuel shortages, rising food prices and rapid inflation that occurred earlier this year.

    With support from the global Red Cross network, the Malawi Red Cross plans to reach 17,500 of the most vulnerable people with food packages, emergency health services, hygiene promotion and agricultural support. The American Red Cross is contributing $150,000 to support this relief effort and will continue to monitor the ongoing disaster through its Red Cross partners in the region.

    Nigeria Floods

    Between July and October, the worst flooding Nigeria has experienced in 40 years affected 7 million people, displaced 2.1 million, and killed nearly 400. Flooding destroyed crops and damaged roads and bridges, making transportation of goods to communities extremely difficult. In some areas, food prices have increased by 30 to 70 percent, resulting in food insecurity.

    In October, the American Red Cross deployed a relief/shelter specialist to join the International Federation’s Field Assessment and Coordination Team (FACT). The American Red Cross has also committed $100,000 to assist in relief operations, including the distribution of relief supplies, shelter assistance, hygiene promotion and water and sanitation activities.


    Typhoon Bopha

    Typhoon Bopha first made landfall on the eastern coast of Mindanao Island in the Philippines on December 4, and then hit the north of the country five days later. The storm brought rain and 136-mile-per-hour winds, destroying homes, agriculture and infrastructure.

    Approximately 5.4 million people were affected by this storm. More than 350,000 people remain displaced and are being sheltered in evacuation centers, open areas or with family and friends. Since landfall, the Philippine Red Cross deployed rescue teams and has been serving meals to those in evacuation centers. After conducting initial damage assessments, they began delivering relief items and temporary shelter supplies.

    The American Red Cross has committed $50,000 to support the distribution of relief supplies and continues to monitor the situation closely.


    Syrian Conflict

    More than a year of unrest in Syria has affected an estimated 3 million people. Hundreds of thousands of people have been displaced, wounded or killed. The overall humanitarian situation has deteriorated as violence has spread across the country and people continue to flee. More than 507,000 people have crossed Syria’s borders into neighboring countries.

    The American Red Cross continues to support response efforts in the region by contributing $200,000 for relief operations in surrounding countries, which includes distribution of food and relief supplies to displaced people. The American Red Cross previously contributed $435,000 to International Federation appeals in support of the Syrian Arab Red Crescent’s relief operation in Syria.


    Panama Floods

    Severe rains in Panama caused flooding and landslides affecting vulnerable communities and economic activities in two major provinces. The Panamanian Red Cross assisted with search and rescue, medical care, and damage assessments.

    The American Red Cross has a longstanding relationship with the Panamanian Red Cross, which includes disaster risk reduction efforts through the multi-year Latin America Risk Reduction Activity program (LARRA). The American Red Cross provided logistical support and approximately $35,000 worth of relief supplies in the form of blankets and hygiene kits.


    Hurricane Sandy

    Tropical Storm Sandy formed in the western Caribbean on October 22, 2012. The storm affected multiple countries causing more than 80 deaths in the region, and severely damaged infrastructure and agriculture, impacting thousands of families’ livelihoods. The American Red Cross has contributed more that $600,000 to support relief operations in 3 countries in the Caribbean including Haiti where the Red Cross continues to support communities left vulnerable after the 2010 earthquake.

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    Source: UN Children's Fund
    Country: Kenya, Somalia

    By Thomas Nybo

    DADAAB, Kenya, 27 December 2012 – Hawa Osman, 13, never attended school until she arrived at what’s described as the world's largest refugee camp, here in northeast Kenya.

    From Kenya's Dadaab camp, UNICEF correspondent Thomas Nybo brings you the story of a 13-year-old Somali refugee who has found strength in the classroom and advocates for education.

    Never had the chance

    As of 16 December, 431,300 people were living in Dadaab refugee camp.

    Hawa and her family fled their native Somalia because of fighting.

    “I never had the chance to attend school in Somalia,” she says. “There wasn’t even a functional school where I lived.”

    At first, she says, it was very difficult to adjust. Most of the other students had had many years of classroom experience, and they appeared more socially adept than Hawa.

    “I didn’t know how to interact with other students,” she admits. “Now I have a lot of friends. I’m also learning English, math, science and the importance of hygiene. Before, I didn’t know why hygiene was so critical.”

    Vocal advocate

    Hawa has become one of the most vocal advocates of education in her area of the camp.

    “If you never go to school and get an education, you are stuck in a dark place,” she says. “Even though I live in a refugee camp, I am able to get an education and go to school. I will be able to help out my parents financially in the future. I am encouraging my friends to attend school, especially girls, so they are not left behind, and they can become independent.”

    A sanctuary

    The classroom offers Hawa a sanctuary from the rigours of life in camp. Her family shares a small stick hut covered with a plastic sheet. There is no running water, no electricity and little by way of protection against criminals.

    “The most difficult part of my life is security,” she says. “There is a lot of banditry in the camp, especially where we stay. I don’t feel secure at all. I always worry if I’ll be raped or my sisters will be raped.”

    Hawa does not know when, or if, she will return to Somalia. She can’t predict when order will return to her native country, and when it will be safe for her family. She is, though, certain of one thing.

    “For me, the most important thing is getting an education. Without an education, there is no life.”

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    Source: UN Radio
    Country: Afghanistan, Democratic Republic of the Congo (the), Haiti, Mali, Myanmar, Pakistan, Somalia, Syrian Arab Republic (the), South Sudan (Republic of)


    Gros plan sur l'humanitaire en 2012, une année qui a connu son lot de drames et de crises qui ont affectés des populations suite aux conflits armés, aux catastrophes naturelles ou encore au changement climatique.

    Le Mali, la République démocratique du Congo, la Somalie, le Soudan et le Soudan du Sud, la Syrie, le Pakistan, l'Afghanistan, le Myanmar ou encore Haïti, sont autant de pays qui ont nécessité un appui humanitaire en 2012.

    Dans cette rétrospective nous regardons l'étendu des besoins humanitaires à travers le prisme du CERF, le Fonds d'intervention d'urgence des Nations Unies, et revenons sur chacune de ces régions en crises, pour mieux comprendre leurs diverses particularités.

    (Extraits sonore : Jean-Marie Garelli, Directeur adjoint du CERF, le Fonds d'intervention d'urgence des Nations Unies; Mathieu Szeradzki, l'un des porte-paroles du Programme alimentaire mondial; Hélène Caux, porte-parole à Dakar du HCR; Laurent Duvillier, porte-parole régional de l’UNICEF pour l’Afrique de l'Ouest et du Centre; Yvon Edoumou, porte-parole du HCR; Elisabeth Byrs du Programme alimentaire mondial; mise en perspective Cristina Silveiro).

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    Source: UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
    Country: Mali

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    Source: MSF
    Country: Kenya, Somalia

    Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) is deeply concerned about the medical consequences following the recent public statements from Kenyan authorities exhorting thousands of Somali refugees in Kenya to leave urban areas and go to remote and already saturated camps around Dadaab in the north of the country. Any potential influx of new arrivals will worsen an already very precarious situation.

    Over the last month, the number of children admitted to the MSF hospital for severe acute malnutrition has doubled and around 300 children have been hospitalized, 63 of whom were admitted to the intensive care unit this week as complicated cases. Most of them are also suffering from acute watery diarrhoea or severe respiratory tract infections which reflect the poor living conditions in the camp.

    “The assistance provided here in Dadaab is already completely overstretched and is not meeting the current needs,” says Dr. Elena Velilla, MSF’s Head of Mission in Kenya. “Furthermore, due to the ongoing insecurity in the camps, MSF would not be able to scale up or respond to a new emergency situation if there is an influx of new arrivals in the camps."

    In October 2011 two MSF aid workers, Montserrat Serra and Blanca Thiebaut, were abducted whilst working in Dadaab refugee camp. They remain in captivity in Somalia.

    “Since the beginning of December and the heavy rains which have caused floods, the shelter and sanitation situation that was already precarious in the camps, has become even more deplorable,” continued Velilla. “This has had dramatic consequences on the population’s health.”

    With a 200 bed hospital that serves as a referral facility for several camps in Dadaab, MSF is one of the main health providers and MSF medical teams carry out an average of 14,000 outpatient medical consultations each month and admit 1,000 patients from the refugee and host communities to the hospital. However MSF, together with all aid agencies, has been struggling to cope with the considerable and growing medical and humanitarian needs.

    Since the camps were established 20 years ago, emergencies have consistently plagued Dadaab, with floods, nutritional crises and disease outbreaks commonplace. According to the UNHCR, eleven epidemic outbreaks were reported in 2012. Today, sporadic cases of cholera and hepatitis E continue to be reported throughout the camps.

    With conditions continuing to deteriorate, MSF therefore fears the impact of the Kenyan government’s decision on the already disastrous medical and humanitarian situation of the refugees living in Dadaab.

    Interviews with MSF's coordinator for Dadaab can be arranged, please contact Polly Markandya on +44 (0)7966677725 or via Please note that for their safety, we are unwilling/unable to discuss the ongoing kidnapping of our colleagues.

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    Source: UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
    Country: Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Gambia (the), Mali, Mauritania, Niger (the), Nigeria, Senegal

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    Source: Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre
    Country: Kenya

    New overview of internal displacement

    Conflict and violence are on the rise in Kenya. In 2012 more than 118,000 people are estimated to have been newly displaced as a result of inter-communal and resource-based violence, linked to a combination of ethnic, political and economic factors. Tens of thousands more have been displaced as a result of natural disasters and development projects.

    Although a large number of Kenyans displaced during the post-election violence of 2007 and 2008 are still struggling to find durable solutions, the level of service provision and donor attention is rapidly declining. Many assume that the emergency has ended, however there are still humanitarian needs for the IDPs. There is a clear gap between short-term emergencymeasures and the comprehensive medium and long-term initiatives that internally displaced people (IDPs) need to end their displacement and restart their lives.

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    Source: UN Children's Fund
    Country: Mali


    -After the forced resignation of Cheick Modibo Diarra in early December, Mr. Django Sissoko was named the new interim Prime Minister. Mr. Diarra’s forced resignation has been condemned by the UN Security Council, ECOWAS and other countries.

    -3-5 December, UNICEF Mali welcomed UNICEF Executive Director Tony Lake in Bamako. Mr. Lake participated in Mali+3 contingency planning. During his visit the Executive Director also met with representatives of the Government, civil society and internally displaced children from the north of Mali. The Executive Director stressed the importance for all humanitarian actors to observe the principles of neutrality and impartiality when responding to the current crisis, and recalled that protection of women and children has to remain a top priority.

    -29 November the Report of the Secretary-General on the situation in Mali was released. In his report, the UN Secretary-General noted that urgent action is required to help the Government and people of Mali.

    -In the Gao, Mopti and Ségou regions, more than 1,700 children were sensitized through Mine Risk Education (MRE) in their schools by UNICEF partners. Radio stations are also transmitting daily MRE messages in Bamako, Kayes, Sikasso, Koulikoro, Ségou and Mopti.

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    Source: UN Children's Fund
    Country: Burkina Faso, Mali


    -The total estimated annual caseload of children under 5 with severe acute malnutrition is 100,000 children in 2012. A cumulative total 85,883 children have been treated between January and October 2012.

    -The annual national nutrition survey using SMART methodology started in September 2012 with UNICEF technical and financial support and from WFP, World Bank and key NGOs as well. The validation of the results is expected by 30 November 2012.

    -In November, 17 cases of measles and 0 deaths have been reported in Dori and Gorom Gorom districts in the Malian refugee camps. Most of these cases are atypical age-wise with 13 cases in people aged between 15 and 60 years, 3 cases between 9 and 14 years and one case at 6 months. None of the 17 people had been immunized against measles.

    -In November 2012, 10 cases of cholera and 0 deaths have been reported in Dori district which is a net decrease from the previous month (77 cases and 4 deaths). No case has been reported in the Malian refugee camps that are far away from these villages. The proximity of the mining area of Essakane has led to intense disinfection coupled with communication activities to avoid the spread of cholera.

    -2,294 children (1,052 girls and 1,242 boys) affected by the crisis and displacement have been receiving psychosocial assistance and participating in recreational activities.

    -The Government, in close consultation with UNHCR, has decided to relocate refugees in Fereiro camp to Goudebou. This involves some 9,800 people and the operation has already started. UNICEF and partners are actively working to make services available in Goudebou to accommodate the increasing number of refugees. A supervision mission from 13 to 15 November was carried out by the Deputy Representative with the programme and the Dori based teams to appreciate efforts by UNICEF and its partners mainly in the fields of Education, Protection and WASH and to define main UNICEF activities for this relocation.

    -UNICEF is also working on a contingency plan taking into account various scenarios of events in Mali for the coming months.

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    Source: IFRC
    Country: Eritrea, Ethiopia, Somalia

    This Revised Emergency Appeal shows a reduced budget from CHF 25,408,085 to CHF 12,258,425; in cash, kind, or services to support the Ethiopian Red Cross Society (ERCS) in assisting approximately 270,000 beneficiaries. The operational timeframe has been extended for 12 months; therefore the end of the operation will be on 31 August 2013. A final report will be made available by 30 November 2013 (three months after the end of the operation).

    Current appeal coverage: 41.4% against current budget; 85 % on the revised (decreased) appeal budget. Please note that the Ethiopian Red Cross is on the direct cash transfer system.

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    Source: Counterpart International
    Country: Cameroon

    By Jennifer Brookland

    Eighty parents, teachers and local officials from across Northern Cameroon convened to identify the 150 schools that will benefit from Counterpart International’s new school feeding and literacy program.

    The global nonprofit received more than 400 applications from primary schools in the four divisions of Cameroon’s North Region.

    The workshop, held Dec. 12 in the regional capital of Garoua, brought together state education officials, school inspectors, mayors, PTA chairpersons,and representatives of partner organizations.

    Counterpart held the workshop to provide a general project overview to relevant stakeholders and to discuss with them the criteria for selecting the schools to include.

    The three-year project, supported by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s McGovern- Dole International Food for Education Program, seeks to improve food security and education for more than 74,000 children through food distribution, community-run gardens and school construction projects.

    Counterpart included residents and local authorities in the selection process to ensure the community supported and took ownership of the project, to maintain a high level of transparency, and to guarantee local knowledge played a role in decision-making.

    Desire Yameogo, Counterpart’s Country Director for Cameroon, opened the workshop with an overview of the project, mentioning Counterpart’s previous work in the country, project objectives and key activities.

    “This project was developed with your full participation so that your children and your communities shall in the year ahead continue to benefit from the fruits and impact,” said Yameogo. “This is your project and we are strongly committed to work with you to sustain it.”

    He also explained the criteria for selecting the schools, which must be geographically distributed across the four regional Divisions the comprise Cameroon’s North region. Each Division then formed a working group to review applications from schools within its area.

    Using the selection criteria and geographic quota requirements, the groups debated and struggled for two hours to make their selections for schools to recommend for inclusion, plus five to place on the wait list.

    Print, radio and television journalists from five media organizations covered the groups’ presentations to the plenary tasked with agreeing on the final selection of 150 schools.

    The intense debates over the choice of schools demonstrated the participants’ recognition of the seriousness of the project goals, as well as their collective resolve to see to it that their children and communities benefit fully from the project.

    The stakes are high: A similar project implemented by Counterpart in 92 communities of North West Cameroon fed more than 27,000 schoolchildren and achieved dramatic increases in school attendance and national exam performance.

    Though that project ended in July 2012, about 40 percent of the beneficiary schools have continued school feeding and growth monitoring with no direct Counterpart support—evidence that the project created sustainable positive change for communities.

    Concluding the workshop, Yameogo said he was grateful for the impressive turnout but reminded participants of the daunting task and challenges ahead. He called for their active and unalloyed support for the project.

    The participants left visibly satisfied with the transparent nature of the selection process and appeared determined to collaborate with Counterpart in implementing project activities in their communities.

    Counterpart will continue to engage local stakeholders to channel the enthusiasm and resolve evident at the workshop, and make sure it translates into concrete participation on the ground.

    Reporting contributed by James Njong, Counterpart-Cameroon school feeding manager

    December 20th, 2012

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    Source: MSF
    Country: Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia

    It is with great sadness that Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) marks one year since our colleagues Philippe Havet and Andrias Karel Keiluhu (“Kace”) were murdered in Mogadishu.

    Philippe, a 53-year-old emergency coordinator from Belgium, and Kace, a 44-year-old medical doctor from Indonesia, were working with MSF teams to provide emergency medical assistance to people affected by the conflict in Somalia.

    “Philippe and Kace are greatly missed and today we extend our heartfelt sympathy and condolences to their families and friends,” said MSF General Director Christopher Stokes.

    Following their tragic murders, MSF closed two large medical centres in Mogadishu. MSF continues to operate 10 projects throughout Somalia and provides medical and humanitarian aid to thousands of Somali refugees in camps across the border in Ethiopia and Kenya.

    MSF aid workers Blanca Thiebaut and Montserrat Serra remain held against their will in Somalia after they were abducted from Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya, on October 13, 2011. MSF again condemns this act of violence and demands their immediate release.

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    Source: UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
    Country: Mali

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    Source: UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
    Country: Mali

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    Source: Government of Ethiopia
    Country: Ethiopia

    December 29/2012 The construction of water facilities has been launched in West Wollega Zone of Oromia State at a cost of more than 29 million Birr, the Zonal water, mines and energy office said. Office deputy head Gurmessa Oljira told ENA that the facilities include the construction of 932 spring development and 215 hand-dug wells. He said the public would contribute through labor and in cash for the projects which would benefit more than 255,000 residents. The facilities are expected to raise the water coverage of the zone to 78.5 from 63.4 percent at present. The deputy head said the construction of three spring development is underway at a cost of two million Birr in Gimbi town.

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    Source: Famine Early Warning System Network
    Country: Afghanistan, Benin, Burkina Faso, Chad, Ethiopia, Haiti, Kenya, Malawi, Mauritania, Mozambique, Niger (the), Rwanda, Senegal, Somalia, Sudan (the), Tajikistan, Uganda, United Republic of Tanzania (the), World, Zimbabwe, South Sudan (Republic of)

    Key messages:

    • In West Africa, food prices were stable or decreased in November as staple food availability continued to improve with the ongoing marketing season. Some earlier-­than-­anticipated price increases occurred in region’s urban centers and structurally-­deficit zones due to limited commodity flows from surplus­producing areas.

    • In East Africa, most staple food prices followed their seasonal trends in November— increasing with the progression of the lean season in Rwanda and Tanzania and generally decreasing elsewhere as supplies from ongoing harvests continue to arrive on markets. November 2012 grain prices in Sudan were relatively high due to high inflation and high transport costs, and localized conflict that have jointly disrupted the marketing system.

    • In Southern Africa, food prices rose steadily in most reference markets as the lean season progressed in November. Localized production shortfalls and rising fuel costs have maintained strong upward pressure on staple food prices in deficit areas of southern Malawi, central Mozambique, and southern Zimbabwe.

    • In Haiti, maize and bean prices continued to increase in November as a result of poor Primavera harvests and crop damages from tropical storms earlier in the year. In Central America, food prices were stable or decreased seasonally between October and November due to the availability of supplies from recent local and regional harvests.

    • In Afghanistan and Tajikistan, food prices were stable or continued to increase between October and November due to strong demand for winter stocks and the high costs of regional imports.

    • International maize and wheat prices in key reference markets remained stable at high levels between October and November 2012 due to tight global supplies (Figure 1). Vegetable oil export prices continued to decline in November as 2012/13 global production prospects continued to improve.
    International rice and fuel prices remained stable.

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    Source: UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
    Country: Mali

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    Source: UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
    Country: Ethiopia

    WASH Update

    According to preliminary results of the seasonal assessment, water sources are rapidly drying up in lowland drought-prone woredas of East and West Harerge zones of Oromia Region, with early livestock migration reported from Kumbi, Meyu and Midhaga Tola (East Harerge) and Burka Dhintu and Hawi Gudina (West Harerge). Among the areas hardest hit by the poor 2012 belg (mid-February-May) rains and resulting crop failure, the Harerges also received insufficient rain during the kiremt (June-September) season. Water trucking is recommended from early January 2013 for affected communities, schools and health institutions in eight woredas of East Harerge (13 trucks) and seven woredas of West Harerge (11 trucks), to benefit nearly 400,000 people (142,067 in East Harerge and 255,216 West Harerge). Meanwhile, an immediate start to water trucking is recommended for Kumbi, Meyu and Midhaga Tola woredas (East Harerge). At present, only one truck is operational in Kumbi woreda, benefiting approximately 14,500 people, even though the water source used to support the operation is located some 110 kilometers (single trip) from Kumbi, in Gola Oda woreda. In addition to water trucking, there is also an urgent need to repair non-functional boreholes in the two zones: of 808 existing motorized boreholes, one quarter (195) are currently non-functional. Among the main challenges are a shortage of spare parts to repair the boreholes, lack of budget and absence of a service rig.

    Water availability is also diminishing in other areas that received poor belg and kiremt rains in 2012. In Tigray Region, more than 179,000 people in eight woredas (Hintalo Wajirat and Seharti Samre in South Eastern zone; Raya Azebo in Southern zone; Kafta Humera in Western zone; Shire and Shiraro in North Western zone; Tanqua Abergele and Wereilehi in Central zone; and Erob and Klite Awlalo in Eastern zone) require support. The Regional Water Bureau and UNICEF have deployed seven trucks in five woredas (existing operation schedule to end on 31 December 2012), leaving a gap of 11 trucks to support the other areas. Erob, Shire and Hintalo Wajirat are experiencing acute shortages, with an estimated 7,500 people currently without water and an additional 10,300 at risk. No water trucks are currently deployed in these locations. Rehabilitation of existing water sources and construction of new ones is also required: in Erob woreda, 53 of 140 existing water schemes are non-functional (38 per cent). Two trucks also continue to operate in Dupti and Elidar woredas of Afar Region, benefiting more than 3,200 people. For more information, contact

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    Source: Government of Kenya, Famine Early Warning System Network, World Food Programme
    Country: Kenya

    Poor performance of the short rains in parts of the Southeast is likely to intensify food insecurity

    Key Messages

    • The poor amount and uneven distribution of the October to December short rains may cause increased food insecurity in the marginal mixed farming livelihood zones in Kitui, Mwingi, Makueni, and Taita Taveta Districts. Crops have already started wilting due to a prolonged dry spell.
    • Although early maturing vegetables are currently supporting food consumption and above average livestock prices allow continued market access for some households, the limited availability of casual labor opportunities and persistently above average maize prices are limiting household food access in the marginal mixed farming areas.
    • Despite the poor temporal and spatial distribution of the short rains in the pastoral areas, livestock productivity improved. This has led to continued above average livestock prices and increased milk availability and consumption. As a result, the proportion of children ‘at risk’ of malnutrition is below average.

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    Source: Famine Early Warning System Network
    Country: Malawi

    Despite a late start of season, flooding is expected as the rainfall situation improves


    • The Department of Climate Change and Meteorological Services (DoCCMS) reported a delay in rainfall between October and November and a total rainfall of less than 75 percent of average. In December the rainfall situation improved significantly and DoCCMS forecasts expect average to above-average rainfall for the remainder of the season.
    • Nearly all of the resources necessary to respond to the estimated 1.97 million people identified as food insecure in recent MVAC assessments are secured and humanitarian assistance is expected to continue as planned through March 2013. This improved assistance outlook is likely to prevent Crisis and Emergency food insecurity outcomes initially projected for the south for January-March 2013.
    • Households currently receiving assistance are expected to be Stressed (IPC Phase 2) throughout the outlook period, however households that have yet to receive assistance are in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) through December. Households in the areas of concern are expected to be Stressed (IPC Phase 2) from January to March, in the presence of assistance.

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