Africa (MNN) — "It is actually getting worse." That's Jacob Kramer with the Christian Reformed World Relief Committee talking about the global food crisis.
The crisis is hitting east Africa particularly hard. War, drought and poverty have put an estimated 9 to 13 million people in the region in urgent need of humanitarian assistance.
Kramer says Ethiopia is just one example. "In Ethiopia, the people depending on food aid has increased from 2.2 to about 4.5 million people, and those are staggering numbers."
Kramer says a number of factors are to blame for the crisis. "The missed planting season in the Rift Vally in Kenya because of the political difficulties and flooding in Uganda–this, combined with higher food prices on the world market which make food prices out of reach for a lot of people."
In Somalia, the cost of imported rice increased by up to 350% between the beginning of 2007 and May 2008. In areas of Ethiopia, the price of wheat has more than doubled over a six-month period, and food prices are expected to remain high until the next harvest in October. According to reports, the cost of food has increased 500-percent in some places. Some families have started eating animal food just to survive. Kramer says many poor families are now going from two meals a day, to just one meal a day, if that.
All of this means more pressure on aid groups like CRWRC. Kramer explains. "At this moment we are looking at 250,000 people in Ethiopia and Uganda and Kenya who are being helped by us on a daily basis. So, you are looking at about tripling the number of cases."
This has put great financial pressure on the CRWRC. "We carry the beggar's dress on behalf of vulnerable people around the world, and it means more or less that we're back at churches and asking for donations."
He says answering the call to give financially is an answer to prayer for those who are calling out to God. Also, Kramer says, "That gives us as northern Christians an enormous opportunity to witness to our brothers and sisters and the whole world out there."