Eastern Africa drought: seven million people in need of WASH services

Seven million people, including over 700,000 refugees are in need of waster, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) services according to a United Nations report of 15 July 2011.

The drought affecting Kenya, Somalia, Ethiopia and Djibouti is being called the worst in 50 years. UN agencies have asked for US$ 1.6 billion to pay for essential programmes in the Horn of Africa, but have only received half that amount so far.

Water trucking is still needed in the driest areas as natural water points failed to refill sufficiently. Two million people have been given better access to safe drinking water so far in 2011.

Paradoxically, some areas in Ethiopia and Somalia are expected to receive above-normal rainfall in the June to September period. This is likely to increase the risk of flooding and subsequent outbreaks of waterborne diseases.


Water shortages in Djibouti City are expected to persist as the peak demand for water approaches with the lean season, increasing the risk of disease. Water access of 60,000 rural people has been supported through water trucking and repair of shallow wells and boreholes.


The WASH Task Force in Ethiopia has called for additional funding between June and October 2011 to support priority water trucking and borehole maintenance and rehabilitation. The cost of providing water is rising due to the physical availability of water trucks, high local demand, restrictions on trucks from Somalia, high fuel prices, and long distances between water sources and delivery sites. At the same time, the rains have elevated the threat of acute watery diarrhoea (AWD) in areas previously affected by outbreaks.


Heavy rains in Turkana and some parts of southern Garissa have reduced the water trucking needs by up to 50 percent while pressure on boreholes has declined in several areas. The Water Sector has prioritized water trucking as a key intervention in the short term but says obtaining funds is difficult. Since the beginning of 2011, more than 322,000 people have been reached through emergency measures, such as water trucking; 51 water points have been rehabilitated and 5 newly constructed; and appropriate sanitation has been provided to 308,562 people.


WASH partners are distributing hygiene packages which include soap, buckets for storing treated water and jerry cans to benefit 48,000 families (approximately 290,000 people) through 335 nutrition centres in south central Somalia. Hygiene promotion materials are being distributed to help health workers visiting the nutrition centres.

In June 2011, UNICEF and partners constructed and rehabilitated boreholes benefiting 15.000 people, and chlorinated 74 wells serving 67,000 people. The Danish Refugee Council (DRC) has trucked water to 9.000 internally displaced persons (IDPS) and COOPI constructed 48 latrines for 1.450 IDPs.

Source: Eastern Africa Drought Humanitarian Report No. 4, UN OCHA, 15 Jul 2011 ; Horn of Africa Humanitarian Crisis Fact Sheet, UN OCHA, 15 Jul 2011

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