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April Rains Come to East Africa, But Emergency Aid Still Needed

While the April rains have come in parts of east Africa, relief agencies continue to call for emergency assistance for millions of people. That’s because in the past few years drought has done severe damage to people, land and livestock.

Peter Smeardon is a spokesperson for the World Food Program. From Nairobi, he spoke to English to Africa reporter Joe De Capua about the effects so far of the April rains.

“Well, certainly they will have resolved the immediate need for water, but that’s about all they’ve done. I mean they are becoming established. It is too early to say where they are going to be in the end because they’re supposed to last until June. Normal, below normal, above normal or what?”

Furthermore, Smeardon says, “OK, they have provided water for the remaining livestock for instance in the northeast, which is still alive. But it hasn’t solved people’s need for international assistance in the form of food and other aid because it’s simply water that will then go into the ground and that will be it.”

Many people in the four drought-affected countries in the region “have lost everything” and the rains will not bring their cattle “back to life.” Smeardon says, “That will take many months and they will need international assistance. And it could even take years to get their herds back to the level they used to be.”

The WFP says there are about six million people in Kenya, Somalia, Djibouti and Ethiopia who need assistance.