Garden Friday – Drought in East Africa

While I try to keep this space for weekly garden tips, I’ve been haunted by the images from east Africa as I worked in my garden this week.  As tenuous as our water situation is in many parts of the southern US is right now, the situation in Africa is much, much worse.

Many villages in Somalia, Kenya, and Ethiopia have seen about 10% of normal rainfall over the past 2 years.  Crops, even with irrigation efforts, were terrible last year and are expected to yield less than 50% this year.  Wells have dried up, food prices for staples have shot through the roof, and livestock markets – the only source of income for most people – have collapsed.  Up to 11 million people are affected by this severe drought and thousands of people are fleeing their rural villages and walking 4 to 10 days to camps in hopes of finding food and water.  Somali children, in particular, are showing high levels of malnutrition as they have also been innocent victims of ongoing civil conflict which, until the past week or two, did not allow for humanitarian food aid within the country.

Humanitarian efforts are overwhelmed with demand and expecting things to get much worse before they get better.  I’ve already checked LDS Humanitarian efforts and, sadly, they do not seem to have a specific program in place.  Please consider donating through other well known charities who are already on the ground providing food and water to these people.  Even $10 can make an enormous difference.


13 responses to “Garden Friday – Drought in East Africa

  1. Karmen July 22, 2011 at 8:12 am

    This is a world of which we have no comprehension. Militants in Somalia had agreed earlier in the week to allow humanitarian aid but, as of this morning, have reversed that position. The poor in these countries are completely at the mercy of militants who are essentially using them as hostages, a negotiating tool, governments that are at worst corrupt and often lacking in knowledge and skill how to manage crises like these, and finally those in the rest of the world who have much to give but often simply say, “but what about us?” I’ll admit that when I hear someone say or read a comment along that line or, “help Americans first,” I was going to say “sad” but no, that’s not strong enough — I feel angry. An unemployed American, as rough as that can be, is NOT on the verge of starvation nor are they going to have to watch their children slowly die of malnutrition. If we follow through on Nicole’s $10 donation suggestion, we can keep people alive until the rains come again.

  2. missy. July 22, 2011 at 9:24 am

    Thank you for keeping this at the forefront of our attention, Nicole. It is heart-breaking.

  3. mfranti July 22, 2011 at 11:12 am

    How can we make this an issue for the Church’s humanitarian aid?

    We’re so good at putting band aids on problems. We’ll acknowledge the symptoms but do nothing to address the cause.

    Throw a little food and water to the poor brown people, but do nothing to stem the raping, pillaging, and plundering of the people and their land because it’s not good for business or it’ll inhibit “growth”.

    I’m putting that word in my list of hated words along with “green, “eco ___”, “sustainable”.

  4. Howard July 22, 2011 at 12:25 pm

    Thank you for posting this. Water supply is not a new problem even without drought half of rural Africa is without clean water and two thirds without sanitation it’s a shame the church can’t see this and see past their building projects to help them in a material way somehow City Creek is more important than black lives.

  5. Nicole I July 22, 2011 at 2:24 pm

    To be fair, I think the LDS church does have some ongoing well/water supply projects in certain parts of Africa. But yes, I totally get what you are saying. Jazzing up a mall when on a good day people are walking a half mile for dirty water seems oh so very wrong.

  6. Alliegator July 22, 2011 at 4:18 pm

    Thank you for making me think about this. It’s too easy to go about our lives without thinking of people we don’t see right in front of us.

  7. Howard July 22, 2011 at 4:26 pm

    Nicole I the church has “dozens” of water projects underway or recently completed “around the world” maned by “dozens of missionaries”. A literal drop in the bucket compared to world wide need.

  8. Winterbuzz July 22, 2011 at 4:38 pm

    A good reminder. Thanks!

  9. Cynthia L. July 24, 2011 at 11:10 am

    Howard, it also cites 7.1 million people given access to clean water because of church projects, 1 million added in the last year alone.

  10. Nicole I July 24, 2011 at 11:45 am

    One thing I think is important to understand is being well positioned to provide aid means already having established relationships before the crisis. The LDS church is good at taking care of its own, particularly in the N American, suburban context; humanitarian efforts are generally in areas where missionary work is happening or on the brink of happening. In areas such as Somalia, Ethiopia, etc where civil unrest and a strong Muslim base has made missionary work a long shot at best, the relationship is very weak. This results in the church being very ill prepared for long term stabilization projects such as well-digging and when a long, drawn out disaster of this kind strikes.

    I’ve long given up on the church being more responsive to meeting basic needs in certain areas of the world and even in the inner cities of the US. It just isn’t what they are good at. What burns me is when people suggest they only give to LDS Humanitarian Aid because they know God is directing that money. (and yes, I wish desperately I was kidding about hearing this at least once a year.) What a load of BS. The church can’t (and won’t) be everything. Spend a few minutes perusing charity ranking sites and get involved.

    For me, personally, it means that I typically support service projects through church that I feel impact my immediate community and then supplement in other areas through well run charities. I have been known to shift my fast offering budget to things like famine relief through an outside organization when I feel moved to do so.

  11. ashsanders July 25, 2011 at 2:09 pm

    Thank you, Nicole, for posting this and reminding us to act. I can’t stop thinking about reports of malnourished babies and women dead on the roadside.

  12. ashsanders July 25, 2011 at 2:10 pm

    By the way, does anyone have access to a site that shows what different humanitarian groups do with their money? I’d like to know what different groups are actually providing people on the ground.

  13. mfranti July 25, 2011 at 2:13 pm

    and women who have to leave their sickly babies behind on the roadside to ensure the survival of themselves and their stronger children.

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