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How Comic Relief’s funding will help families in East Africa

Mwanajuma Ghamaharo tends to her irrigated plot of mung beans.
Mwanajuma Ghamaharo tends to her irrigated plot of mung beans in Makere village in Tana River County. Photo: Lisa Murray/Concern Worldwide
News17 March 2023Charlotte Mallory

East Africa is experiencing one of its worst droughts in recent history – a total of five failed rainy seasons. More than 36 million people are affected and over 28 million need urgent assistance across Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia.

Comic Relief has generously helped to fund our response to the hunger crisis, with £500,000 to support our work in Kenya and Somalia.


In Kenya, 4.4 million people are facing life threatening hunger, with this predicted to rise to 5.4 million by June.

Cash assistance

Comic Relief’s funding will support vulnerable, drought affected families with cash assistance, reaching households that are headed by children, those who have severe physical disability and those who are chronically ill. This will enable them to buy the things that they need most, including food and vital medication.

We will also reach thousands of people through ‘cash for work’ – providing income for 12 days a month for three months through work that will positively contribute to the drought response, such as clearing bushes around irrigation canals.

Growing food

Cash for work will also enable 1,650 farming households to undertake the cultivation of the 1,050 acres in the three irrigation schemes owned by the communities worked with, to grow food. The families’ farms have been sadly underutilised for up to two years because of blocked irrigation canals – meaning that water couldn’t flow to crops. We are providing an assortment of seeds, from maize and cow peas to kale, spinach and watermelon so that families can once again grow their own nutritious food. Additionally, people will be provided with guidance around preparing the land, planting, pest control, water management and harvesting.


As Somalia struggles through the worst drought in 40 years, 6.7 million people face malnutrition and famine. That is nearly 50% of the population of Somalia and more than the population of Scotland. 1.8 million children already suffer from malnutrition and one million people were displaced in 2022 alone.

Famine is expected to reach the Baidoa and Burhakaba districts between April and June of this year. 70% of families living there do not have enough to eat and half a million children will face severe acute malnutrition if action is not taken immediately.

Comic Relief’s support will fund water, sanitation, and hygiene services, as well as health and nutrition support to those most in need.

Water, sanitation and hygiene services

More than a million people have left their homes in search of food, pasture, water and alternative livelihoods. Many arrive at sites for Internally Displaced People (or IDPs) – people who have been forced to leave their home but remain within the country. In Baidoa, ten of these IDP sites will receive water-trucking services in sites where Concern Worlwide has worked previously. In addition to this, Concern will support 800 newly arrived families with 90 days of water. Combined, that is 132,930 litres of water for 17,724 people – or 7.5 litres per person x 90 days – or the equivalent of 117 London double-decker busses worth of water. Concern Worldwide will also install 100 toilets and 50 handwashing stations, as well as 20 toilets for people with disabilities (or PWDs). In crowded spaces with limited infrastructure like IDP sites, hygiene is paramount to keep away diseases and as such, 12 hygiene promotors and two supervisors will be hired to provide key messaging and carry out hygiene promotion sessions for newly arrived internally displaced people. 40 Sanitation kits will also be provided to compliment the hygiene promotion sessions. Two water kiosks will be constructed to facilitate the distribution of water from an existing borehole installed by Concern Worldwide in 2022.

Health and nutrition

Concern Worldwide will deliver emergency health and nutrition services through fixed health centres in areas of a high population and mobile clinics, which will travel to smaller, hard to reach rural communities once or twice a week. More than 70 health care professionals will be funded to provide vital services to those affected. Baidoa and Banadir, 25,116 people will receive free medical outpatient support. 1,976 mothers are going to receive quality ante/post-natal consultations. The funding supports the management of Acute Malnutrition cases and the referral of 2,940 children suffering from Severe Acute Malnutrition to the stabilisation centre, where they receive life-preserving treatment and post-treatment care free of charge. The parents or guardians of those children may remain at the centre and receive food, during that time, to avoid separating families during this worrying time. Reproductive health services also form part of the emergency package, including antenatal appointments, which will be provided to children and women of reproductive age.


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