Episcopal Relief & Development Expands Response to Drought and Famine

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8/9: As drought situation worsens, church leaders launch ‘Call to Action’ in the Horn of Africa (ENS)

August 8, 2011

The sustained drought in Somalia, said to be the worst in 60 years, is expected to impact additional countries in the Horn of Africa. The UN is warning that famine conditions are likely to spread from two southern regions of Somalia to the entire country, as well as to parts of Kenya, Uganda and Ethiopia over the coming weeks. In addition, reports indicate that over 800,000 people have fled Somalia and are seeking refuge in neighboring Kenya and Ethiopia.

The current famine in the Horn of Africa has required an urgent humanitarian response. Rates of mortality and malnutrition are extremely high; estimates indicate that malnutrition among children under age five currently exceeds 20%, and is increasing. Over 12 million people across the region are in need of food, water and other basic supplies. Although reports indicate that food aid delivery currently is being hampered by insurgent groups in the worst-affected areas of southern Somalia, assistance is reaching refugees arriving in Kenya and Ethiopia.

Episcopal Relief & Development is working through its network of Anglican and Episcopal partners in northern Kenya to meet the needs of drought-stricken villages, and to provide support for Somali refugees crossing the border. Responding to the widespread famine, local government and NGOs on the ground are currently supplying food aid in these areas. In coordination with these efforts, and to address unmet needs, Episcopal Relief & Development is working with partners such as Christian Community Services Mount Kenya East (CCS-MKE). Water is being provided to drought-stricken villages in the Eastern Province of northern Kenya, allowing medical centers to provide critical care and decreasing the incidence of disease resulting from the use of unsafe water. The organization is also distributing feed for livestock, which are crucial to people’s livelihoods and provide essential nutrition. CCS-MKE’s water provision and livestock protection efforts will assist an estimated 6,000 individuals in northern Kenya.

Episcopal Relief & Development is also working with local partner Ukamba Christian Community Services to provide food aid (including maize, beans, and cooking oil) to as many as 1,320 households in four areas of northern Kenya over the next five months. As an initial step, the organization will be purchasing maize from farmers in central and western Kenya for distribution to those hardest hit by the drought in Wanzauni and Makaa, with special focus on orphans, widows and the elderly. The program will also support community efforts to prepare the land for the next rainy season, with soil and water preservation measures such as terracing and sand dam construction. Rains are expected between November and December 2011.

Please continue to pray for all those affected by drought and famine in East Africa, and especially for those who have fled their homes in search of food and water for survival. Please also pray for the return of rains, and healthy harvests in the future.

To support the crisis response efforts of organizations like CCS-MKE and Ukamba Christian Community Services, please make a contribution to Episcopal Relief & Development’s Disaster Response Fund.