By now you know that the situation in East Africa is becoming critical. The world’s eyes are turning towards the drought plagued areas in the Horn of Africa where hundreds of thousands are making dangerous trips to refugee camps and more than 10 million people in Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia and the newly formed Republic of South Sudan have been left in need of food, water and emergency healthcare.
The situation begins to feel overwhelming, and many people are already thinking that there seems to be so little that we can do for them. The pictures on the news are difficult to watch, and we’d often rather look away. But God has called us to be His hands and feet in our world, and together we can make a difference.
This is a difficult time for many people. Some families are facing their own personal credit crisis, governments are grappling with shrinking budgets and support for charity is focusing ever more sharply on problems closer to home. But drought, famine and the malnutrition and starvation that follows cannot be ignored.
If you are like me, then there are questions you would like answers to, such as: why is this is happening again in this part of Africa, what is being done and how we can assist the most vulnerable -- especially children -- who are caught up in the latest Horn of Africa drought crisis.
These are good questions and answers are important.
We all know that the cycle of drought in the Horn of Africa is becoming more frequent, and weather patterns play a large role in it. While we can’t control the weather, we can do more to help communities in areas that depend on natural rainfall. World Relief Canada and our partners in the Canadian Food Grains Bank and the Integral Alliance have been working to build resiliency so people living in drought-prone areas are better able to cope on their own.
So while we continue to work on longer-term sustainable solutions, we have to keep saving lives today. The World Food Program estimates more than 11 million people will need food assistance in the Horn of Africa over the next six months. Many of them are vulnerable families with young children, and we are working on strategic interventions to make sure their nutritional needs are met.
Make no mistake, there is no margin for error when it comes to building healthy brains and bodies among young children. This is why the situation in East Africa requires immediate and intentional response.
The declaration of famine in Somalia is a wake-up call for the world, but it has arisen due to a unique set of circumstances. The areas of southern Somalia that are facing the gravest hunger have been hit by a triple whammy of drought, high food prices and military insecurity.
As friends and supporters of World Relief Canada, I want to encourage you that your partnership has been, and continues to make a difference. Greg Barrow from the United Nations’ World Food Program recently said,
Nobody is underestimating the scale of suffering in the Horn of Africa region, but if humanitarian agencies, national governments and nongovernmental groups had not invested so much time and effort into preparing communities for the probability of another drought, the numbers needing assistance would have been much higher.
In light of the crisis in Africa, this seems like little solace, but everything we do makes a difference and we will continue to make a difference. Our long-term food security projects will continue, but now is the time for immediate relief efforts as well.
We are putting together a fuller package that explains what we and our partners are doing in the Horn of Africa that we will mail out to everyone as details are finalized, but I wanted to at least touch base with you first so you know we are active and involved in responding to this crisis.
Canada’s Minister of International Cooperation has announced that CIDA (Canadian International Development Agency) is creating a matching fund so that every dollar given towards this crisis will be matched 1:1.
Any gift given to World Relief Canada from July 6th until September 16th will be matched by the federal government into the East Africa Drought Relief Fund.
You can see the news release here: http://www.acdi-cida.gc.ca/acdi-cida/ACDI-CIDA.nsf/eng/NAT-72211442-LG3
If you want to participate immediately and not wait for the mail piece, then you can go online at www.wrcanada.org or make a donation over the phone by calling Jessielyn at 800.567.8190 ext. 209 (toll free).
Please pray with us for the people of East Africa, and pray for us that we have the capacity to do what so desperately needs to be done quickly.
Millions of lives are at risk and every contribution, big or small, is welcome.
May God grant us His Mercy.