dry soil
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The Scottish government has announced a £500,000 aid package to help countries struggling with drought in east Africa. Four charities are to each receive £125,000 from the Scottish Government’s Humanitarian Emergency Fund to tackle the food crisis in South Sudan, Kenya and Ethiopia caused by the ongoing drought, The Scotsman, Scotland’s national newspaper, reported Sunday.

The charities — Christian Aid, Mercy Corps, SCIAF and Tearfund — described how in some villages, families are left without any food for days, and warned people are resorting to “drastic measures to keep their families alive.”

East Africa is facing one of its most severe episodes of drought in decades, with the driest conditions seen in 40 years. The fifth consecutive rainy season is lower than expected and the forecast for the coming season is also set to be below average.

The extreme water shortages have resulted in massive losses of harvests, livestock, and income. Local commodity prices also remain at an all-time high, out of reach for many, while experts warn the combination of climate and conflict in the region is worsening an already dire humanitarian situation.

The announcement comes days after the United Nations refugee arm, UNHCR, appealed for funding of $137 million for the 3.3 million refugees and internally displaced people in East Africa who have been forced to flee their homes. The funding will help aid workers distribute food packages, help improve access to clean water supplies and provide cash transfers to households in desperate need.

Alistair Dutton, chief executive of SCIAF, visited Ethiopia 10 days ago, where he described the situation as “desperate.”

He said: “With riverbeds dry, we saw people digging shallow wells to unearth small pools of water to drink and water the cattle but even that isn’t possible away from the rivers.”

The SCIAF project in Ethiopia will provide food supplies and access to safe water in Dasenech Woreda, South Omo

Zone. Under the scheme, 315 households will receive cash transfers for four months while the rehabilitation of shallow wells and water points, along with water purification materials, will improve access to safe water for 7,000 households. He added: “The day before we arrived the local authority in South Omo had announced that the water in the river

would only last another two weeks, and they urgently appealed for aid agencies to begin water trucking. In this chilling context the Scottish Government’s funding will make an enormous difference and allow SCIAF’s local partners to provide urgently needed services to people whose options are running out.”

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