High fuel prices impact relief efforts abroad

By June 17, 2008

International (MNN) — High fuel costs are having an incredible impact on relief agencies who are not only providing food and other necessities, but they're sharing the Gospel as part of that outreach.

In part two of our series on the global fuel crisis, we're talking to organizations that provide relief aid to the needy around the world.

Communications Coordinator for Food for the Hungry Gary Zander says, "We're finding the majority of our fields are in severe crisis because of the relationship between the cost of fuel and how it relates to food prices."

He's blaming higher food prices on the fuel crisis. "We're finding the price of food is going up due to transportation costs, and production costs are going up as well. When those two things are put together, then all of a sudden the amount of money you had available for food is strained even more. There's just less available."

That means people will be looking for ways to afford it. Zander adds, "They'll be moving to another area. They need more work to provide more income in order to buy more food. People are moving into urban areas where already there are food availability issues, and now they're not finding what they need."

Just last year the need was great. "More than 50 countries that would have stated more than 10 percent of their population didn't have the nutrition they needed. That was before the crisis happened," says Zander."

He expects the percentages to go up to 50-percent levels. "In countries where it's already over 50-percent then we're reaching into famine type of situations. Unless we see some kind of response quickly, we may be seeing several countries going into famine modes throughout the summer."

Living Water International
provides water to thousands in need. LWI's Bruce Whitmire says the increasing costs to operate their diesel-dependent water drilling rigs are hurting their outreach plans. Whitmire put the increasing costs into perspective. "We could serve 100,000 people two years ago, now we're only able to help 66,000 people."

Orphan Outreach
comes alongside orphans in four countries. Their president Mike Douris says the high fuel prices are having an impact on ministry both at home and abroad. "As the economies around the world get impacted by oil prices, the need for relief aid and the stress on families means more need. And then you have charities that can be impacted by the amount of money that's being donated because of the economy, so you end up having more need and less ability to meet that need."

In part three of our series tomorrow, we'll take a look at how high fuel prices are affecting national and expatriate missionaries directly.


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