12 Million Caught in Africa Food Crisis
The level of severe malnutrition in the Horn of Africa worries even seasoned aid workers like Maurice Bloem.
Church World Service, the United Methodist Committee on Relief, and other members of the faith-based ACT Alliance are coordinating their response to the hunger crisis – deepened by civil strife and the worst drought in decades – that is affecting 11 million to 12 million people in
A July 22 “call for action” report by the Global Nutrition Cluster, a U.N. inter-agency standing committee, showed the prevalence of “global acute malnutrition” among the population of
Anecdotal stories that CWS staff have heard through their office in
There are two declared areas of famine in
Problems with food shortages in the Horn of Africa have been building over the years but came to a “critical mass” in recent months, said Melissa Crutchfield, UMCOR executive for international emergency response.
“This is not a sudden onset disaster, but it’s one that is finally getting the media attention that it needs to generate awareness and the subsequent support,” she added.
UMCOR is appealing for donations to help the relief agency and its partners address the Horn of Africa crisis.
UMCOR’s board of directors on Aug. 1 approved four grants for $20,000 each to support:
· CWS-implemented work in the Mwingi and Kibwezi areas of
· ACT Alliance members in
· ACT Alliance members in Somalia providing for a variety of emergency needs – food, shelter, clothing and water – along with long-term assistance to promote agricultural, income-generating activities
· GlobalMedic, bringing in water purification tablets to
Crutchfield said that UMCOR also is discussing cooperative efforts with interfaith partners, such as Muslim Aid, which have better access to some of the communities affected by the crisis.
CWS, which has launched its own appeal for the Horn of Africa, also is supporting the emergency response in
Daily deaths from hunger
In the two regions of southern
A huge wave of people, mostly women and children, are fleeing the country. An average of 1,300 Somalis arrive in
Countries that border
As of July 29, the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs had appealed for $2.4 billion from the international community to address the emergency, which is expected to continue for three months or longer.
The World Food Program and UNICEF airlifted hundreds of tons of specialized nutritional food for malnourished children in
In such circumstances of severe malnutrition, quick action is required. “You need to focus on nutrition interventions, especially paying attention to the most vulnerable,” Bloem explained. Waiting too long to provide proper food to children ultimately means “those children have no future,” he stressed.
Long-term interventions range from assistance with better agricultural practices and other forms of livelihood to assessing the impact of various factors on global food systems. “You need to insure that, ultimately, people can better take care of their own needs,” he said.
In a July 27 interview with CWS’s Chris Herlinger, Sammy Matua, based in the agency’s East Africa regional office in
The current crisis demonstrates “the impact of climate change is here with us and it is hitting the most vulnerable people in the world the hardest,” Matua said.
*Bloom is a United Methodist News Service multimedia reporter based in