A Toronto-based charity is sending an emergency relief team to the Horn of Africa in response to the severe drought that has devastated the region.

Members of GlobalMedic's rapid response team are delivering water purification items that can provide more than 11.5 million litres of clean drinking water.

The team is delivering 1.15 million Aquatab water purification tablets and PUR water purification sachets to Kenya for use there and in Somalia.

Rahul Singh, the director of GlobalMedic, says 500,000 children may die in the next month in the Horn of Africa because of malnutrition and lack of access to clean drinking water.

"You can imagine you are malnourished, you're a kid and you don't have a great immune system to begin with . . . if someone gives you dirty water, that's going to kill you," he told CTV News Channel.

The delivery of the water purification items is the first wave in GlobalMedic's response to the crisis.

"This is a big emergency, there are 11 million people at risk right now," Singh said.

The Canadian government announced last week that it would match citizens' donations to the Horn of Africa famine.

The program is retroactive to July 6 and will run until Sept. 16.

Canadians can also text in donations to support relief work in the region.

The Red Cross introduced the texting option Thursday as a "quick and easy" way to help.

Canadians can text the word "AFRICA" to 30333 to make a one-time donation of $5.

Kevin McCort, president and CEO of Care Canada, just returned from the refugee camps in east Africa.

"Sixty per cent of the people arriving in those camps are under the age of 11," he said. "Often the only thing they have with them is their mother and the clothes on their back."

McCort said food and water is the greatest need in the camps.

He said CARE has set up water distribution points along the 80-kilometre journey to the refugee camps.

"They are walking that whole distance and they are going to get clean water from CARE along their way," he said.

GlobalMedic is the operational arm of the David McAntony Gibson Foundation, a Canadian charity that runs programs in post-conflict nations and after major disasters. The team is made up of volunteers from the professional rescuer community, including paramedics, police officers and firefighters.