Faith-based organizations gather to find solutions for the Horn of Africa

Will Postma speaks at a special conference of the All Africa Conference of Churches in Nairobi, Kenya. Photo courtesy AACC

Joanna Patouris is the Climate Change Communications Coordinator for ACT Alliance

On June 28 and 29, members of the ecumenical family along with national and international organizations, gathered at the All Africa Conference of Churches in Nairobi, Kenya for the “Mobilization of faith communities for overcoming hunger and sustaining justice and peace in the Horn of Africa.” The event brought together leaders from different faiths and denominations, as well as various faith-based organizations that are actively responding to the crisis on the Horn of Africa, as well as international organizations engaged in humanitarian coordination across the region. Will Postma, Executive Director of The Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund, attended and spoke.

“We sang, we affirmed human dignity, stewarding the land, God’s Creation and caring for the most vulnerable,” says Will Postma, Executive Director of The Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund. “Together, we affirmed the importance of transparent governance, of responding to climate change, of speaking out against conflict, partnering more with local government, [engaging] strategically with the media and more intentionally, to reach out to youth.”

The event, organised by the World Council of Churches, All Africa Conference of Churches, ACT Alliance, World Vision International and the World Food Programme, encouraged further networking and collaboration opportunities between churches and other agencies, emphasizing the proactive role that churches and faith-based organizations can play in influencing humanitarian, development, climate change and peace-building agendas.

Participants focused on the root causes of the crisis, exploring durable solutions for conflict resolution and good governance. They worked towards strengthening their preparedness to respond to the famine crisis and identifying international advocacy strategies to increase available support for appeals in the region.

Together, faith leaders developed a Call to Action aimed at overcoming hunger, promoting peace and justice and mobilizing support for the current appeals in the region. The Call to Action emphasizes, “as faith communities we are on our ‘Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace’ and are striving for the establishment of peace and the resolution of conflicts as one of our core mandates. Conflict is an unacceptable common denominator across all countries currently facing the risk of famine.” In addition, it notes that “it is imperative to continue addressing climate change and to be the stewards of environmental protection and to bring our moral authority to safeguard the integrity of creation.”

“The Call to Action has the potential to advocate for international and regional support and commitment for the ongoing interventions through humanitarian appeals and finding sustainable solutions to the underlying causes of drought, conflict and climate change,” says Arnold Ambundo, ACT Alliance Programme Officer of the Africa Region. “[It] further enhances the potential for ecumenical cooperation and partnerships in addressing contemporary challenges facing humanity.”

ACT Alliance, of which PWRDF is a member, has been following and responding to the crises on the Horn of Africa through its members in Kenya, Ethiopia, South Sudan and Somalia. Together, the Alliance has conducted a joint needs assessment and has participated in various strategic coordination sessions led by governments to develop national appeals to respond to the specific needs of a variety of sectors. The appeals in all four countries continue to need support. More information on the ongoing response and appeals of the ACT Alliance in the Horn of Africa can be found here.

Ambundo further emphasized the significance of strong partnerships within the Alliance. “Working together allows ACT members to positively influence the situation on the ground, and to reach people in the communities to end hunger and bring about sustainable peace in this period of crisis.”

“Collectively, we can learn so much from each other,” says Postma. “We need to hear each others’ voices and be encouraged by work that is already happening. Churches and faith-based organizations are well grounded in Biblical principles of justice and mercy and well placed at community levels to be important, credible actors and voices for change.”

 

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