Hunger and disease still stalk Kenya and Ethiopia

By August 31, 2009

Kenya (MNN) — The cholera
outbreak in Kenya and Ethiopia has been contained for now. However, the prolonged drought is aggravating food shortage and water access problems and creating ripe conditions for
another outbreak. 

Thousands of animal farmers are going to Ethiopia in search
of pasture and water to keep their flocks alive. Children are going with their parents and
abandoning their education. The schools also are struggling: many can't provide food under the
school-feeding programs. In the areas hardest hit, health clinics are
struggling to keep patients hydrated and fed because of the water and food
shortages.

The
Food for the Hungry Emergency
Response Unit (ERU) was dispatched to both
Kenya and Ethiopia to address the cholera outbreaks from earlier in the spring. The outbreak in Kenya was
concentrated in the Laisamis and Merille Districts in the North.

Once established, the teams
worked to reduce severe dehydration
among victims of cholera by providing Oral Rehydration Salts (ORS), as well as
training on how to use them properly. They also worked at educating and encouraging basic hygiene (washing
hands with soap) in areas with vulnerable
groups.

This program came through a
village outreach program led by Community Health Workers. In collaboration with
the Ministry of Health, the World Health Organization, and other NGOs, Food for
the Hungry has reached 12 villages made up of more than 50 households each.

In Ethiopia, the ERU's response was
in Bulbula, an area where Food for the Hungry (FH) walks alongside orphans and
vulnerable children, providing HIV/AIDS care, (including support to orphans and
vulnerable children), as well as supplementary feeding to combat malnutrition. They
also collaborated with the local health department, providing much-need
medicine and other supplies for a government-run cholera treatment center.

Although the crisis is over for
now, the conditions threaten another cholera strike. Food For The Hungry's Pete
Howard says their Emergency Response Unit left tools behind and survivability
is much better. "The epidemic has gone away, and I'm encouraged that these communities are now prepared in the future for
further epidemics that could come through. These communities understand how to
respond better."

Partnership with the local
churches is another line of defense. 
"As we are working in these communities, bringing the appropriate
medicine, and working on health and hygiene and proper nutrition, we're also
sharing the love of Jesus Christ and loving these people in the way that Jesus
loves us." 

According to Food For The Hungry,
the Bible has many examples of disasters, and of ways that God's people
prepared for, avoided, responded to, mitigated and recovered from them, often with
specific directives from the Lord. God has used disasters throughout history to
bring glory to Himself, to draw people to Himself, and to demonstrate His mercy. He
is never far when a disaster occurs and ready to bring beauty out of ashes.

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