I was surprised that several people were unaware of the drought in this part of the world. Many people seem to be experiencing inadequate information or not getting updates on the situation there in East Africa.
|Here is a map to help you find the countries of Kenya and Somalia. See eastern Kenya just under Yemen in the middle east.
The United Nations has reclassified the situation from a "drought" to a "famine" due to the severity of the crisis. If I understand correctly, they say the world has been slow to respond to the situation in the Horn of Africa. By upgrading the description of the situation to a "famine" they hope to illustrate for the world just how critical the situation is.
So in light of the urgency of the crisis, I've decided to present a few facts and show you some videos. This will help you to get a quick overview of the situation and to help if you are so inclined. There is plenty of information on line but I know that some people are unable to go on line for various reasons. Hopefully this overview (in blue font) which I've taken from the World Food Programme website and the videos will give you a quick introduction. If you have a connection fast enough to watch the videos please do. Each of them are only 2 and a half minutes long.
Kenya is experiencing one of the worst droughts in recent years. Northern Kenya is particularly affected and the government has declared the drought in this region a national disaster. The poor March to May 2011 long rains, coming successively after the failed October to December 2010, have greatly undermined the food security situation in the country. Up to 3.5 million people are affected by the drought and their plight has been worsened by high food prices resulting from both local and global factors. A mid-season assessment of the March to May long rains indicated a dismal performance of the rains and it is projected that up to 3.5 million people will need food assistance from August, a 1.1 million increase from the current 2.4 million. The actual number will be determined by the July long rains assessment, the results of which are expected in August.The number of severely malnourished children admitted to hospital has increased by 78 percent this year compared to last year. Malnutrition rates among children below the age of five years have risen dramatically with reports of up to 37 percent in some northern districts -- more than double the emergency threshold of 15 percent. The most affected districts are Turkana, Moyale, Isiolo, Wajir, Mandera and Marsabit. WFP is providing supplementary food assistance to about 80,000 children and pregnant and nursing mothers. To curb the increase in the rate of malnutrition in northern Kenya, WFP is strengthening the supplementary food assistance safety net by linking it to general food distribution to ensure that the supplementary food is used to address malnutrition among those affected. In addition, WFP plans to give blanket supplementary food assistance to all children under the age of five and pregnant and lactating mothers in the six most affected districts in northern Kenya.Dadaab refugee camp in north-eastern Kenya continues to receive large influxes of refugees mainly from Somalia with about 30,000 new arrivals in June alone. Kenya currently has about 447,000 refugees with Dadaab hosting about 368,000 and Kakuma in north-western Kenya about 79,000. Most of the refugees arriving in Dadaab have high malnutrition rates, having walked long distances with little or no food and water. WFP is providing the new arrivals with a 15-day ration of food at reception centres as they await registration after which they are included in the regular food register for refugees. WFP also provides refugees with supplementary food assistance for malnourished children, pregnant and nursing mothers, in addition to a mid-morning meal for all primary and pre-primary school children and a take home ration for girls.School meals remain an important safety net for many communities. WFP is providing school meals for 670,500 pre-primary and primary school children in arid and semi arid areas and in the slums in Nairobi. The Government of Kenya, through the Ministry of Education is also feeding 610,000 of school children through the Home Grown School Feeding programme.WFP is gradually scaling down short term interventions in favour of recovery activities such as food-for-assets (FFA) and Seasonal Cash for Assets (SCFA) through which WFP, in collaboration with the government, is developing appropriate skills to enable communities to improve their resilience and adaptation to climate change in addition to encouraging them to invest in their future. About 830,000 people are benefitting under these projects. In addition, WFP is providing a market for small-scale farmers under the purchase for progress (P4P) programme. WFP, working with partners, also builds the capacity of the small-scale farmers in WFP procurement modalities, warehouse management, quality assurance and record keeping.Kenya is a low-income food-deficit country with a GDP per capita of about US$759 (2009 World Bank) and a Gross National Income (GNI) of USD 1628 (2010 UNDP). The 2010 UNDP Human Development Report ranked Kenya among the “low human development” countries of the world, placing it 128th out of 169countries.WFP operations in Kenya support the Government's efforts in implementing all eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
I think you can appreciate that the already critical situation in Kenya is being exacerbated by the devastating situation in Somalia. The Kenyan people need help in addressing their own food insecurity issues and on top of that, they need help to address the overwhelming needs of the Somali refugees who are streaming into different parts of Kenya. I am encouraged that some relief efforts will focus on activities which will hopefully minimize the need for short term interventions in future, at least as far as it is possible to do so for one can't predict natural disasters and wars which impact on food security.
This first video addresses the Kenyan food insecurity issues which I addressed in my post here.
This second video illustrates the plight of the Somalis who trek to the Dadaab Refugee Centre in Northern Kenya.
I have put up two buttons on my blog (see right side of my blog) if you would like to make a donation to help alleviate the food insecurity crisis. They will be up for a least a few days to make it easier for you to donate if you wish.
One button is for the World Food Programme.
The other button is for World Vision.
These organizations are seeking donations. There are also other organizations seeking donations and to which you could donate if you choose. Some of these are the International Red Cross, Save the Children international and many others. I'm sure you will know which ones exist in your respective countries.
Please don't feel that you can't help. I read on one website that even $1.00 (one dollar) will feed four kids. Every little bit helps.
If you can't give money, each of the international aid organizations also has other ways you can help. Please check out their websites and find out how.
In closing, I wanted to mention too that the World Food Programme has implemented an interesting way of giving which I just learned about today. It's called "wefeedback".
It's easy: You choose your favorite food, put it into the Feedback Calculator along with the estimated cost, and then calculate how many hungry children this would feed. The next step is to donate exactly that amount.
You can do that here
I used the calculator and found out I could have fed 32 children with the $8.00 I spent on an inexpensive dinner out at McDonald's. Now I don't eat out that often but I think I would rather spend it on feeding 32 children so I will be making that contribution very soon.