The world is facing the largest humanitarian crisis since the end of the Second World War, with more than 20 million people in four countries on the brink of starvation and famine, according to the United Nations. These four countries are Nigeria, South Sudan, Somalia and Yemen. Strung together, they form a belt around the mid-section of the African continent, a belt that is tightening day by day.
PWRDF has funded relief work in three of these countries over the past year as well as neighbouring countries that are also affected, says Naba Gurung, PWRDF Humanitarian Response Coordinator. Though drought has contributed to hunger and famine – which describes the threshold at which people die from hunger – Gurung says conflict and political violence are the root causes. “In South Sudan, the famine and hardship are very much conflict driven; political violence came first and then the drought. It’s true in Somalia as well, though the drought there is more permanent.”
There are different opinions about the impact of climate change, says Gurung. “The rains come in cycles. In the past, farmers would know when drought would come. What is new – in the last 10 or 15 years — is the irregularity and the extremism of the climate. It’s now unpredictable. And many of these governments have other priorities, or lack the capital to invest in ways to protect against drought and climate change.”
Due to violence and drought, many Somalis sought refuge in Kenya over the past few years, but they now have to return home. Without land or property, they are becoming Internally Displaced Persons. “They’re not even living in camps.” Gurung says, “More often they end up homeless in urban, poor neighbourhoods. So Somalia has that added pressure.”
Kenya has had its own political conflict and a presidential election coming in August. The drought there has hit pastoral communities hard and resource-based conflict is becoming rampant.
Through its partners ACT Alliance and Canadian Foodgrains Bank, PWRDF has responded to several emergency relief appeals in the past year. Donations to our East Africa appeal will be added to grants already committed to further fund relief programs in South Sudan, Somalia and Kenya.
You can make a world of difference to the lives of people in East Africa by donating to PWRDF`s East Africa appeal at our website. You can also help by sharing this bulletin insert with your Parish or community.