East Africa (MNN) – Humanitarian needs from food shortages have tripled in several regions of East Africa since 2015. The United Nations agricultural agency announced this finding in a report last week, along with a warning that this ongoing drought is going to cause food prices in the area to spike very soon.
The affected countries include Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Uganda, and Tanzania. For example, Somalia’s maize and sorghum crop harvests are already down by at least 75 percent of their average.
Kristin Wright, Advocacy Director with Open Doors USA visited Ethiopia last year and witnessed the drought’s devastation.
“When we were in the north of the country, we could definitely see firsthand some of the tragedies caused by the famine. You look and it’s completely parched ground, there haven’t been adequate rains, and people are suffering. In fact…in some of the countries like Ethiopia, Somalia, and Kenya alone, more than 11 million people are in need of food. So it’s a massive, far-reaching tragedy.”
Of the countries suffering from drought conditions, Ethiopia, Somalia, and Kenya rank on Open Doors’ World Watch List for persecution of Christians. And in these types of crises, Christians and religious minorities can often fare the worst.
“One of [Open Doors’] major initiatives in actually many of these countries, including Somalia, Ethiopia, and Kenya, is to assist Christians with their livelihoods. As a result of persecution, many Christians will lose their jobs or they’re unable to find employment and consequently unable to support their families. As you can imagine, in a drought situation like this, in a situation of famine where hunger is spreading, this is an even more severe situation for those who don’t have employment or aren’t able to support their families already.”
Wright explains, “Open Doors works on the ground to provide job training skills, and also we do microloan projects where we help Christians start their own business in their areas so they’re able to stay and be sort of a light in the darkness wherever they’re at.”
Open Doors coordinates directly with the local Church in these countries to provide humanitarian and spiritual support. Because the believers in many of these areas may be struggling in terms of material provision along with the rest of the country, it’s a chance to see the global Body of Christ come together in mutual encouragement.
“We are bringing the gifts and generosity of the global Church forward in these countries like Somalia, like Ethiopia, and empowering that church on the ground to reach out in their communities…. Last year, when I was in Ethiopia, just seeing how local churches are empowering and helping their communities by starting schools, by providing food distribution, I got to see a lot of things firsthand. But that just goes to show you this crucial role that you and I play in supporting our persecuted brothers and sisters in places like East Africa where the situation is very dire.”
Please pray for God to clear the drought and for the local Church to be resilient in service. Wright shares a personal example of why it’s so important to pray without ceasing for even crises like this drought that can drag on.
“I will never forget this. I was driving down a road in Southern Ethiopia and they had just received the first rain in months. I saw these two tiny little twin girls on the side of the road, and I have twin nieces so they looked to be about the same age. These girls were just scooping up cups of dirty water on the side of the road to, I assume, bring home to their families. It was just such a moment for me where I recognized [and] saw my own family members in those two girls. I think that anytime we can see our own brothers and sisters, our own family in those who are suffering, it helps us remember why it’s so important not to get fatigued, but to continue to speak out, continue to be a voice and to help those who are suffering.”
Click here to learn more about Open Doors’ ministry and other ways you can advocate with and for our Christian brothers and sisters around the world.
Wright says this advocacy and unity in the global Church is what Open Doors is all about. “I always want to encourage people to be a voice. Your gifts, your generosity, your prayers; all of this is so important. But we also want to encourage people to speak out and be a voice and advocate.”