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East Africa: one year after catastrophe

This time last year millions of lives fell apart.

An undercurrent of chronic poverty and malnutrition, conflict, weak health systems, high food prices, poor vaccination coverage, a lack of access to clean water and changing climate all culminated in a deadly food crisis across east Africa.

Despite early warnings, livestock perished and thousands of families were pushed closer and closer to the brink of disaster.

The worst drought in 60 years

Travelling through north east Kenya last year, I saw carcasses of livestock littering the ground. The lack of food and water had taken its deadly toll.

It was to become the worst drought in east Africa in 60 years, affecting more then 13 million people and killing tens of thousands.

It remains one of the world’s largest and most severe humanitarian emergencies.

In Somalia, Lul (pictured right) told me that her five-year-old son Salat was too weak to hold up his own head.

They hadn’t eaten for days, and Salat became severely malnourished.

Save the Children staff brought him to Mogadishu hospital and happily, he survived. But thousands of other people weren’t so fortunate.

Our emergency teams launched into action, delivering the biggest response in our 90-year history– providing food, water, healthcare and other crucial life-saving aid to families, including vital education.

Work worth doing

We worked 18 hour days, drank far too much coffee, fell into bed exhausted, and woke up a few hours later to start it all again.

And a year on, we’ve reached more than 3.4 million people.

Thanks to amazing support from people around the world, people like you, we’re still there on the ground, saving lives and giving children a chance at a better future.

As one father said to me, from a Save the Children clinic in Mogadishu:

“Where I’m from, there are no clinics, no school. Our children have no future there. They grow up without hope.  They just exist. Then they begin to fight. I knew we had to leave. Then my son, my beautiful boy, got sick. We were desperate. So we came here. But every day is still a struggle.

If Save the Children weren’t here I don’t know what we’d do. We know of Save the Children’s work, even in places they don’t work in. I’m grateful for the food they have given my son, and the family rations they have given us. If you tell me that Save the Children will leave I would say to you that many would die as a result. I think that many would have died if they were not here.

You are from Save the Children, yes? Then I say thank you. And please – don’t leave”.

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