Burundi (MNN) — After more than four years of drought, farmers in Burundi hoped this year's crop would be bountiful. But heavy rains late in the season washed the new fields away.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) says Africa will continue to bear the brunt of the weather shifts. They're predicting that climate change will bring greater incidence of disease, reduced crop production, and increased occurrence of extreme weather that could worsen droughts and flooding.
Flooding in the early part of this year already has had a devastating effect. With the topsoil already thin, heavy rains washed away seedlings, and with them, hope of avoiding food security problems.
Christian Reformed World Relief Committee's Ken Little says that's resulted in a severe food shortage. "The needs are pretty great", he comments. But finding any news of what's been happening since the floods four months ago is a challenge. That's not surprising, says Little. But no news coverage means no aid, and that means people will likely suffer. "It was one of these hidden crises that the world is no longer paying attention to; we're helping 4,000 families, most of whom have land. So we're helping provide with the distribution of seeds and then provision of food distribution for three months" until the harvest comes in.
At this point, experts say the average family in Burundi, which already eats less than a person needs for survival, are facing grim prospects. Three in four families in the flood-ravaged areas were already living below the poverty line, which meant intervention was necessary to stave off a potential humanitarian crisis.
CRWRC joined forces with Food for the Hungry International to distribute beans, corn, and vegetable seeds along with tools in the northern part of the country.
Little says their hope is to open doors by meeting obvious needs. "We're working through the network of churches and are working with an international Christian NGO, Food For The Hungry. Essentially, it positions the church and church denominations to be a source of hope to their communities, and in that way, it's providing a platform or a foundation for the churches to be able to share the good news."
The scope of the disaster seemed to be bigger than any one agency could handle. Combined, CRWRC, Food For The Hungry, and the Canadian Foodgrains Bank hope to reach those most in need in the fastest and most thorough way possible.