Jill Biden, Vice President Joe Biden's wife, is in Kenya with former Republican Sen. Bill Frist and other dignitaries to emphasize the U.S. government's commitment to tackling the famine that has left more than 12 million East Africans in need of food.
During her trip, Biden will visit the Dadaab refugee complex, a camp that receives more than 1,000 Somalis a day and is home to more than 400,000 displaced people. The camp is designed to accommodate about 90,000 refugees.
The region is facing its worst drought in six decades, and the United Nations has declared a state of famine in five regions of Somalia with warnings that the situation is deteriorating and could easily spread. Though food insecurity is also affecting Kenya, Djibouti, Uganda and Ethiopia, the greatest concerns emanate from war-torn Somalia, which has known no central government since 1991.
The United Nations is working to round up $2.5 billion to address the situation, which the organization says could be ongoing for six months or more.
Biden's trip to Dadaab aims to draw attention to the plight of the Horn of Africa and highlight the Feed the Future program, a U.S. government effort aimed at "helping countries transform their own agricultural sectors to grow enough food sustainably to feed their people." She also will visit Nairobi's Kenya Agricultural Research Institute and meet with President Mwai Kibaki, Prime Minister Raila Odinga and Agriculture Minister Sally Kosgei.
The worst drought in 60 years has hit the Horn of Africa region, an area in east Africa that includes Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya.
A recent satellite-derived animation from the European Space Agency illustrates the crisis as it worsened over the summer. The images above show soil moisture in the region from April to mid-July of this year. Green and blue depict higher levels of soil moisture while the increasing spread of orange and yellow illustrates areas with little to no moisture.
The drought has led to starvation and the loss of crops and livestock. Food prices have nearly tripled in some areas since last year, worsening the crisis.
The United Nations officially declared famine in parts of Somalia last week, and thousands of people have fled their homes and crossed borders in search of water, food or aid.