Food shortage threatens East Africa

By August 17, 2009

Africa (MNN) — Less than 50 percent of the expected rainfall in East Africa came during this year's long rains from March to May. That resulted in an 80 percent shortfall in crops in East Africa, and now the people are in desperate need of aid from donor countries.

Christian Reformed World Relief Committee already has two established food distribution areas and is looking to expand that program. They will continue their seed and farming
programs in case the short rains come in November and December. However, those rains only account for 30 percent of the crop growth for the year, according to Jacob Kramer of CRWRC.

As a result of dry land and no food, prices have gone up. "In most areas, they use to buy a can of water for ten cents. Now they pay a dollar for it. If you live on a dollar a day, you
have to choose between water and food," said Kramer. 

According to another news source, as the government meets to solve this emergency situation, one of the options is to allocate more money to importing food. However, this would
decrease the budget for development programs. 

The government also worries that food security in many areas will suffer, and water sanitation practices will diminish. News reports have already indicated the latter, with diarrhea cases increasing in children who don't have water to wash their hands with before they eat. 

Children are suffering in more ways than one. Their main nutrition source is the milk from
livestock. However, animals are being brought away from villages in order to find enough water to keep them alive or they are being sold for money for food.  Without the milk, malnutrition concerns are especially high for young children. Buying milk is almost out of
the question, as the price at the market is extremely high. 

In Kenya, water trucks come to villages with 15,000 liters of water. Each day the queue lines get longer, and the trucks leave with even more people still standing with empty buckets. Some people walk miles to get water for their families and get none. The money for these efforts is slowly drying up, as well.

In Britain, people often use 150 liters of water per day. One flush of a toilet uses about five liters. In East Africa, many people are forced to survive on just five liters of water at this time–if they can get any. 

Kramer said that one of their CRWRC staff members recently returned to his village in East Africa, and a woman approached him saying, "Please buy my land, so I can eat." Kramer said they are hoping that the famine will not be as bad as the one that
happened 20 years ago. 

CRWRC's aid often comes through partner churches who have a great opportunity in this emergency to witness. "Their organizations will be empowered to be the salt and light and the practical help–the loaves and fishes, as we all recall it from Jesus' ministry–for their community."

If you can contribute to the disaster response program CRWRC has set up for the East Africa drought, go here.    

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