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Volunteers at the heart of the response

Guyo Golicha Safia Houssein Awaleh Abdullahi Ibrahim


When Abdullahi Ibrahim, Kenya Red Cross Society volunteer in Tana River District, Kenya, was asked why he volunteers to help pregnant women in his community, the answer was simple: "I feel happy when I help someone," he said.

In Djibouti, amid 40-degree heat and the fasting hours of Ramadan, Safia Houssein Awaleh, a Djibouti Red Crescent volunteer visits people door-to-door in her community to pass on health messaging. She proudly states: "I work for my country, to enrich the community where I live."

Further west in the dry Oromia lands of southern Ethiopia, Guyo Golicha, a volunteer from Tuka village explains his motivation to be a part of Red Cross is because "I know this area well, so I can make sure Red Cross can reach every corner of the community."

Abdulllahi, Safia and Guyo represent just a few of the 120,000 volunteers of Red Cross Red Crescent (RCRC) throughout the Horn of Africa responding to the drought. They are the individuals that drive the response at a community-level, which allows RCRC programs not only to develop, but also to sustain, long after this seasonal drought ends.

As a part of the local community, these volunteers also have the trust of people around them. They speak the same language, live in the same neighbourhood, and face similar challenges during a drought. And to each of them, the current drought is not something new.

Headlines in the news will eventually change, and the world may soon forget about the chronic needs in the Horn of Africa in six months time. But life for these volunteers will not; each of them will continue living in Kenya, Djibouti and Ethiopia, in their respective communities long after this drought period ends. These are the volunteers, which are the strength of the Red Cross Red Crescent Movement.

Katherine Roux - International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies

The emergency

East Africa is enduring one of the worst droughts ever, leaving millions of people without sufficient food and water. The humanitarian crisis is worsened by the ongoing conflict in Somalia. More than 1.75 million people are internally displaced in Somalia and thousands more are crossing the borders of neighbouring countries, Ethiopia and Kenya, putting additional strains on drought-affected communities in those areas.


Photo Credit: IFRC

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