Horn of Africa Drought | Development and Peace

Horn of Africa Drought


Our response

In the Horn of Africa, Development and Peace is in the process of implementing a long-term humanitarian and development program. The organization has been active in the region on an ongoing basis since the 2011 drought, which put millions of people at risk of hunger, and it has made every effort to ensure that the most vulnerable people in Ethiopia, Djibouti, Somalia and Kenya have access to water, food, and sanitary facilities. Following a call for donations, a total of $7M was raised thanks to the generosity of the general public, and given the magnitude of the crisis, the Canadian government matched donations as well.

Development and Peace is currently setting up projects related to food security, support for urban refugees, building community resilience in the face of natural disasters, and conflict resolution within a sustainable development approach so as to have a lasting impact.

Horn of Afrique

“When it rains our lives are better. And when it doesn’t, the problems begin.” - Usni, a 36-year-old woman who was hired at a nursery established by Development and Peace in collaboration with its partner the Harar Secretariat of Caritas Ethiopia (HCS).

In 2013, Development and Peace also established a long-term partnership with its sister agencies CAFOD, SCIAF and Trocaire (respectively Caritas England, Scotland and Ireland) so as to pool resources and expertise and implement a joint program in Ethiopia. This joint-program supports the actions of more than 35 partners, including local Caritas agencies and other civil society organizations that are working on four key areas with the following goals:

  • Improving the means of subsistence of communities by diversifying agricultural and non-agricultural production;
  • Contributing to efforts to curb the spread and impact of HIV/AIDS by improving access to care and support services, and strengthening the quality and efficiency of these services;
  • Encouraging the development of an inclusive civil society by enabling spaces for collaboration with government authorities and urging civil society organizations to actively participate in the communities that they serve; and
  • Responding to humanitarian crises by strengthening the resilience of vulnerable communities.


The issues we work on to build justice:

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Humanitarian aid

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Peace and reconciliation

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Natural Resources

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Ecological Justice

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Equality between
women and men


The situation

The Horn of Africa, which includes Ethiopia, Somalia, Djibouti, Eritrea and the border near Kenya, is an arid region that is highly susceptible to drought. Although the region had the capacity to cope with occasional droughts in the past, it has become increasingly vulnerable in recent years due to consecutively poor rainy seasons, constantly rising food prices, changing agricultural practices, and poor land management.

After two poor consecutive “rainy” seasons, the region experienced the worst drought of the past 60 years in 2011, which caused a serious humanitarian crisis. With crops unable to grow, livestock rapidly dying, and food inaccessible due to high prices, an estimated 11.5 million people became vulnerable to food and water shortages.

The situation in Somalia was particularly dire due to conflict and insecurity in the country. At the time, the United Nations had declared famine in two parts of Southern Somalia (southern Bakool and Lower Shabelle), and a quarter of the population became displaced. Thousands of Somalis made a treacherous trek to attempt to reach camps in Kenya and Ethiopia in order to access aid.

In 2016, the region was severely affected by a new humanitarian crisis, a result of the El Niño weather phenomenon. Lack of rain resulted in a loss of crops, leaving more than 10 million people vulnerable to high levels of food insecurity and malnutrition.

February 25, 2021

Development and Peace is responding to the most urgent needs of people displaced by the ongoing conflict in Ethiopia.

December 8, 2020

Our second Advent story is about how your love for humanity helped preserve the love of one mother’s life in Somalia.

Humanitarian Crisis - Africa 2017
March 23, 2017

Development and Peace – Caritas Canada is profoundly concerned about the famine in South Sudan, and the humanitarian crises in Somalia, Yemen, and Nigeria. The situation is also very troubling in certain neighbouring countries...

June 23, 2016

In partnership with the Canadian Foodgrains Bank, Development and Peace - Caritas Canada is providing support for an Ethiopian partner organization (the Harar Secretariat of Caritas Ethiopia (HCS))...

January 8, 2016

As Ethiopia experiences one of its worst droughts in decades, Development and Peace is responding with immediate aid to help meet the acute needs created by this situation.

July 21, 2014

Along the main road running through Surupa village, several women are removing loads of jerrycans from the backs of their donkeys. There are hundreds of jerry cans full of camel milk lining the road. A few minutes later, a public bus stops by the highway, and everyone becomes busy loading the jerry cans onto the top of the bus.

August 12, 2013

Bishop Simard was touched by the experience and impressed by the quality of the work taking place on the ground: “All the projects really touched me. I saw a real concern to be in solidarity with people in their suffering. I saw projects that allow people to take in hand their own lives. I find this is an excellent appraoch to development.

July 26, 2013

The village of Mekenis is 32 km from Jijiga in the former Hararghe province, at the border of Somalia. The region was especially affected by the 2011 drought and repeatedly received food and seed distributions so as to mitigate a series of food crises.

July 24, 2013

It rains twice a year in the Somali region, in February and in July. After scant rains on the plains and insufficient harvests on the plateaus at the end of last year, the situation remains very fragile indeed. Forecasted low rains for this year would deliver another blow to families affected by the drought two years ago, with certain areas likely to be confronted with yet another food crisis.

July 23, 2013

Today in Eastern Ethiopia the only subject of conversation is “blue gold,” which is becoming rarer every day. Like everybody else from the Horn of Africa, Ethiopians are entirely dependent on the rain. When it is plentiful, there are good harvests that remove, if only for a moment, the threat of drought, and therefore of hunger.

July 20, 2013

Two years ago, during the summer of 2011, an extraordinary drought struck the Horn of Africa and caused a massive influx of refugees into makeshift camps in Kenya and Ethiopia. Millions of people from the region left their countries to escape the famine.

July 3, 2012

Development and Peace is funding the Kambioos WASH (Water Sanitation & Hygiene) project with Catholic Relief Services (CRS) at the border of Somalia in Kenya.

June 7, 2012

It was almost a year ago that a drought in the Horn of Africa put millions of people at risk of hunger. In response, Development and Peace launched an appeal that raised over $7 million for relief efforts. This June marks the end of the first phase...

February 12, 2012

Following the 2011 drought, Caritas Kenya launched an emergency appeal for 14 of the country's 25 dioceses. Over the past four days, I have visited projects in three of those dioceses.

February 7, 2012

"The media have prevented humanitarian organizations from being strategic." The judgment is harsh. It is from Overtoun Omgezulu, regional emergency relief coordinator for the Horn of Africa at Trocaire. He saw the media parade through the region during the summer of 2011. Media pressure forced the organizations to spend money quickly so as to justify the use of the funds sent in.

February 6, 2012

I knew Nairobi for having passed through it, many times, when I was heading for Rwanda or Burundi. I always stayed downtown, just for a night, before taking off again. I’ve been in town for just 24 hours but this time the situation is different. I’m staying outside the city, in the Westlands district, 15 minutes from downtown at the All Africa Council of Churches.

February 5, 2012

By the time you read this, I'll already be in Kenya. This mission is a follow-up to our activities in the drought-stricken Horn of Africa. Last November, we visited Ethiopia.

January 10, 2012

Last May 30th, the government of Kenya declared a national disaster in response to a drought that was taking hold in the country. The situation became catastrophic, when in addition, refugees from Somalia began to stream across the border into the country.

November 30, 2011

Stepping off the plane in Djibouti, the heat smacks hard and the salty smell of the sea fills the air. It is much hotter here than in Ethiopia, where the high altitude makes the strong African sun more bearable.

Photo: Neal Deles/Caritas Ethiopia
November 29, 2011

After more than 10 days in Ethiopia and visiting many corners of the country, I am taken by the extent of the work of the Catholic Church here. There may not be a very large Catholic population in Ethiopia (0.7%) yet the magnitude of what is being done by the Church is impressive. There is a true dedication to serve the poor and marginalized that seems unwavering.

November 28, 2011

We have been in the warm and welcoming company of the Harar Catholic Secretariat the last few days. In Ethiopia, there is always reference to the highlands and the lowlands. The lowlands are the deep valleys that wind their way through the many mountain chains here, while the highlands encompass the villages that crawl up towards the peaks.

November 26, 2011

Even in a time like November, when the crops are being harvested, there are still some who face food shortages here. For female-headed households, widows and those whose crops simply did not take, they are confronted by circumstances that make the struggle to keep their families fed all the more difficult. This is where Caritas Ethiopia can play an important role in helping the vulnerable.

November 23, 2011

Walking through a rocky valley of the Tigray region in the northern part of Ethiopia, each footstep launches a cloud of dust into the air. This region, which is close to the Eritrean border, is one of the most affected by the recent food crisis.

November 22, 2011

It is hard to imagine that 80% of the population in Ethiopia relies on agriculture for its sustenance, when on your way to Adigrat in the far North of the country. Leaving Addis by plane, below there is a mosaic of greens that swath the landscape. It doesn’t take long, however, for these small pastures to be replaced by rising mountains of rock. The landscape looks remote and inhospitable.

November 19, 2011

In many ways, my Ethiopian journey began this summer when ongoing drought conditions pushed many communities in the Horn of Africa into a food crisis. Unlike Somalia, famine was not declared in Ethiopia, yet it is the country with the most number of people affected by this crisis - approximately 4.5 million.

November 6, 2011

Gilio Brunelli, Director of International Programs at Development and Peace, was recently in Ethiopia to assess the food security of communities that have been impacted by ongoing drought-like conditions in the country. Changing weather patterns and inflated food costs have made it increasingly difficult for rural communities to have access to sufficient food and their livelihoods continue to be severely impacted by this situation. Here are his impressions.

October 11, 2011

Development and Peace has raised $6.3 million for humanitarian aid for the Horn of Africa, which is currently experiencing the worst drought in the region in 60 years...

September 7, 2011

Ethiopia is currently hosting thousands of Somali refugees that are fleeing famine and conflict in their own country, but in addition many Ethiopian communities suffering devastating impacts from the drought that is currently affecting the Horn of Africa and can’t be forgotten.

August 26, 2011

Caritas Kenya will be providing food and water to 30, 420 families living in the most drought-affected parts of the country over the next six months. This far-reaching emergency relief program, which will help over 180,000 people, will cost a total of $5.6 million.

July 28, 2011

The current food crisis in the Horn of Africa is one that has been slowly building over the last few years. Several factors have made it increasingly difficult for the people of the region to have access to sufficient food.

July 27, 2011

The Canadian Government announced on Friday, July 22nd, that it will match dollar for dollar donations made between July 6th and September 16th for the humanitarian crisis in the Horn of Africa. Development and Peace is eligible to have contributions made by its donors matched through this program.

July 14, 2011

The worst drought to impact the Horn of Africa in 60 years has put an estimated 10 million people at risk of severe food shortages and famine. Development and Peace is closely monitoring the situation and will support the people in the region as they face this rapidly escalating humanitarian crisis.

Download Horn of Africa Progress Report

Horn of Africa Progress Report

August 2011 - June 2012
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