A drought in Africa, described as the worst one in decades, is threatening up to 10 million lives.

Aid agencies have scrambled to help countries in the Horn of Africa in response to a call from the UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief, who say famine is imminent.

Baroness Amos says there must be a united international approach to the relief effort in the affected areas, including large areas of Somalia, Ethiopia, Djibouti and Kenya.

The government of Kenya has declared the situation as a national disaster.

Food prices in some parts of Kenya were up to 80% higher than the five year average, while in Ethiopia, the consumer price index jumped about 41%.

Cattle and sheep are dying at higher rates than usual, reaching up to 60% of mortality in some areas.

More than 1000 Somali refugees arrive daily at the refugee settlements of Daadab in northern Kenya.

But the humanitarian organization CARE International warns the drought situation in the eastern Horn of Africa is deteriorating and unlikely to improve until next year.

“The situation in Daadab is grave. Thousands of Somalis are walking for weeks to reach the camp, many of them arriving acutely malnourished, dehydrated, with nothing but the clothes on their backs,” says Stephen Gwynne-Vaughan, Country Director of CARE in Kenya.

Currently, almost 367,000 refugees have sought a safe haven in Daadab; it is the world’s largest refugee settlement.

The high influx of new refugees is putting severe pressure on already limited resources. CARE calls for more funding for refugees in Kenya.

“Refugees need urgent support. They need food and water. At the same time, funding is needed to provide emergency assistance for Kenyans who are also affected by the current drought,” Gwynne-Vaughan says.

“CARE is distributing food from the World Food Programme (WFP) to the refugees in Dadaab, however, without additional funding, the food aid pipeline for refugees will run dry by September.”

As a temporary emergency response to the national disaster, CARE Kenya was distributing emergency food rations of high energy biscuits to new arrivals at reception centres in the Daadab refugee settlements.

But the nutritional status of the newly arrived refugees is poor, so now complete food aid baskets and household kits of blankets, water containers, sleeping mats, plastic sheets and kitchen sets are now being distributed. CARE is also trucking potable water and expanding existing water

supply and distribution systems to meet needs of new arrivals.