Drought worst in 60 years in Africa’s Horn

By July 5, 2011

Kenya (MNN) — It's being called the worst drought in 60 years. The Horn of East Africa has faced two consecutively poor rainy seasons, resulting in the driest conditions since 1950/51.

This is bad news for Christian organizations like Food for the Hungry. We asked Africa Regional Director for FH, Shep Owen, how many people are affected. "It's difficult to say. I hear projections as high as 10 million people."

According to Owen, the situation is deteriorating quickly. "I think it's complicated because of global factors, including the economic downturn that's hit the United States and Europe and affected the globe, which means inflation has had a huge impact on people in the region."

Food for the Hungry has been working in the region for decades. Owen says, "A lot of the people in this area are people who move with livestock, so we've spent a lot of time working to build up livestock markets so that people can make their own way through this period on their own, rather than getting a handout."

The UN reports more than 10 million people are now affected in drought-stricken areas of Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia and Uganda, and it's getting worse. Aid agencies report an increase in food prices which is pushing many moderately-poor families over the edge. And, they say, people are fleeing to refugee camps in Kenya and Ethiopia in unprecedented numbers for food and help.

Owen reports that the national churches in each of these areas are vital to the work of Food for the Hungry. "The church definitely understands the local needs better than even FH, and so what we try to do is build the capacity of our church partners and other community members to reach out to the most needy in the community."

Are they prepared? Owen says, "We're as prepared as other organizations and governments, but I think this type of event is cataclysmic, and its impact sometimes can exceed the best preparation."

Owen says God uses events like these to accomplish His sovereignty, and many do come to Christ because of it.

Funding is needed to meet the growing needs in the Horn of Africa. If you're being called to give, click here.

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