Donate to Disaster Relief--International Disasters & Emergencies
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Horn of Africa (East Africa) Drought
2011 has been the driest period in the Eastern Horn of Africa since 1995. Although Somalia, Kenya and Ethiopia saw the late arrival of the long pastoral rains this past spring (March-May), the amounts received were extremely low.
The resulting drought — the worst in several decades —has led to failed crops, food shortages, skyrocketing food prices and malnutrition. Parts of Kenya have experienced malnutrition rates of up to 37.4 percent, the highest recorded in 20 years and more than double the UN World Health Organization (WHO) emergency threshold of 15 percent.
It is estimated that more than 10 million people in Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya are affected by the drought. At present the situation has reached a point that communities cannot survive any longer without external support. The emergency is expected to spread rapidly in the country as short-rains will not begin until October/November, and increasing food prices are causing country-wide food shortages.
Thousands upon thousands are leaving their homes in order to meet their basic need for water and food. The Dadaab refugee camp on the Kenya-Somalia border, run by PDA’s ecumenical partner ACT Alliance, has been receiving about 1,300 people daily, mostly women with children and elderly people. The noticeable influx of people fleeing the drought began at the end of May, swelling an already overcrowded camp that is now home to 370,000.
ACT’s Lennart Hernander, in Nairobi, says people are arriving at Dadaab noticeably malnourished, and that between 20 and 30 children die of malnutrition in the camp each month. “In June, it was obvious just by passing through the graveyard that there were new children’s graves.
“When people arrive, they are exhausted from walking and often dehydrated. We are seeing more older people which is unusual. The elderly tend to stay put in their homes until things get really bad,” Hernander said.
Some new arrivals had travelled from as far as Mogadishu, in some cases on foot over 1,000 km. Malnutrition rates among new arrivals reached 15 percent.
ACT members in the region say they have never seen such a crisis in their lives, with one member of staff saying “things are changing by the hour and the situation has never been this bad.”
PDA is responding as a member of ACT Alliance in the two worst-affected countries, Kenya and Ethiopia. ACT is distributing food and supplementary feeding for children, the elderly and nursing mothers, improving existing water supplies and trucking in water to some areas.
For now the priority is to meet people’s urgent need for food, clean water, shelter and medicine and to join forces with other aid agencies, UN bodies and governments in order to reach as many as possible of the 10 million people who risk starving to death.
How You Can Help
You can stand in the “GAP” for disaster survivors and help the church in this response.
GIVE. The generous sharing of your financial blessings through the One Great Hour of Sharing offering and special designated giving provides resources needed to assist with immediate emergency needs, clean up provisions, long-term and unmet needs, and spiritual/emotional counseling.
Individuals may give online, or through their local Presbyterian congregation, on the secure PC(USA) Web site or by sending their check to:
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
P.O. Box 643700
Pittsburgh, PA 15264-3700
To support international response, please include the special designated giving account DR999999 – International Disasters and Emergencies.
Congregations should send donations through their normal mission giving channels.
ACT. Stay informed and share information about the need with others. Sign up to receive PDA Rapid Information Network (PDA-RIN) email notices to alert you of additional needs.
PRAY. Our best response is prayer. 1 Thessalonians implores us to pray without ceasing, so your prayers are requested above all else. Please pray for families living through the drought conditions, including many thousands seeking assistance in the overcrowded refugee camps, and that the assistance we offer will bear the hope of Christ as it helps meet physical needs.
Presbyterian Disaster Assistance is a member of ACT Alliance, a global alliance of churches and related agencies working to save lives and support communities in emergencies worldwide. Learn more about how PDA works with ACT.