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Food crisis in East Africa grows as funds dwindle

20 July 2012


Living water: women collect water from a water truck, funded by Tearfund, in Didadi Village, in Kenya. Kenya, along with other countries, has received emergency aid over the past year

Living water: women collect water from a water truck, funded by Tearfund, in Didadi Village, in Kenya. Kenya, along with other countries, has receiv...

AID agencies have said that they need to raise $25 million to address a "critical funding shortage" at the Dadaab refugee camps in Kenya, which are housing refugees affected by the East African food crisis ( News, 8 July 2011).

A briefing paper published on Thursday of last week by a group of seven charities, including the Lutheran World Federation (LWF), and the Catholic Relief Service, says that 130,000 refugees will soon be without adequate shelter, and that the supply of new water and sanitation services to 50,000 refugees is in danger. "Without the only source of safe water and new latrines, the threat of cholera is greatly increased," the briefing warns.

The head of CARE Kenya, Stephen Vaughan, said: "The funding shortfall means people who have fled unimaginable suffering are not getting the care they need. As well as the human cost, there is also a cost to security in the region. If children are not going to school, and if people do not have proper shelter and other services, this has the potential to fuel further insecurity."

The head of Oxfam in Kenya, Nigel Tricks, said: "Refugee camps are only temporary solutions, and the situation is increasingly untenable. Funds are needed now to save lives, but we can't keep pumping money in year after year while the camp keeps getting bigger. A change in approach is urgently needed. However, right now, the world has an obligation not to turn its back on Dadaab and the needs of the people there."

Christian Aid issued a statement on Thursday of last week, one year since the Disasters Emergency Committee launched an appeal for the East Africa crisis. It said that the British public had donated £79 million to the region, "which in the last year has funded emergency aid for 2.3 million people. . .

"With some areas experiencing the worst rainfall in 60 years, and parts of Somalia affected by famine in 2011, the aid effort has helped save many lives in Kenya, Somalia, Ethiopia, and parts of South Sudan. However, the region has still had only erratic rains at best, and the conflict in south-central Somalia continues, meaning that nine million people across the region are still in need of food aid."

The international director of Tearfund, David Bainbridge, said: "We're not out of the woods yet. We're expecting poor harvests in Kenya because of long rains and crop failure in the southern lowlands; so we'll continue to support communities in East Africa to be more resistant to future unpredictable rainfall."

On Monday, the Leprosy Mission launched its first ever emergency appeal, for the food crisis in West Africa ( News, 27 January), which it said was "becoming a full-scale humanitarian crisis".

A statement from the Leprosy Mission said that the lives of people with leprosy were at risk in Niger, where the charity funds treatment services at the CSL Danja Hospital. "More and more people are going hungry each day, causing families to uproot - even travelling to neighbouring countries in a desperate bid for work or handouts - to attempt to stop their children's hunger pangs."

The Leprosy Mission's director, Peter Walker, said that "never before have we witnessed a natural disaster such as this threatening the existence of thousands of people we are striving to help.

"While we are facing our own economic challenges in the UK, it takes relatively little - just £32 - to keep a leprosy-affected family of six fed for a full month. I would urge people to help if at all possible, and think of those suffering as a result of this devastating crisis."

The Bishop of Bukavu, in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the Rt Revd Sylvestre Bahati Bali-Busane, appealed last week for prayers and support for people who have been displaced as a result of fighting in the eastern part of the country. "The diocese of Bukavu, recognising the holistic mission of the Church, is humbly requesting prayers and any kind of support, so that vulnerable victims can get relief through the Church," he said.

The Archbishop of Canterbury has lent his support to the launch of a fund-raising appeal by Farm Africa, a British charity that helps communities in rural Africa to grow food. The appeal "Give Hunger the Boot!" asks churches to take part in a "welly-walk" to raise money.


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