The combination of acute drought on top of political instability and dysfunction (e.g., Somalia) has led to a dire situation in East Africa that seems to be getting worse—see the State Department's recent assessment here: https://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2011/07/169179.htm.
In any social impact area, there are short-term, mid-term, and long-term impacts that donors can address.
For donors who wish to help in East Africa, here are some phases to consider:
- Short-term: (i.e.: get food to hungry people to prevent starvation, rehab severely malnourished children); provide services to drought refugees (safety, clean water, shelter, food, public health)
- Medium-term: agricultural interventions, irrigation, drought resistant crops, etc.
- Long-term: political stability, economic development, improved farming practices, etc.
All of these need to be addressed to create and sustain impact in affected communities. While no one donor can do it all, understanding the links between phases can help.
Here is a link to yesterday's CNN report Famine in East Africa: How you can help for examples of organizations already on the ground and working in these areas: https://www.cnn.com/2011/WORLD/africa/07/20/iyw.howtohelp.somalia.famine/index.html.