Somalia (MNN) — The United Nations
is calling the regions of Somalia, Ethiopia and Northern Kenya the "Triangle of
Death." Due to their proximity to one
another, these countries are all dealing with similar severe drought and food insecurities
that could impact up to 10 million people throughout the region.
Somalia appears to be worst hit. The
United Nations has formally declared a famine in two areas of southern Somalia. Refugees are straggling cross the borders to
see if there is better access in Ethiopia and Northern Kenya which are also
trying to cope with the emergency.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton
said the U.S. will provide an additional $28 million in aid. On the surface, the issue seems to be lack of
food. However, for those groups trying
to help, the issue is more the lack of access to food which is available.
Declaring an actual "famine" brings
to mind pictures of starvation and emaciated children. It strikes the emotional heart of a donor to
try and alleviate suffering. Aid groups therefore are careful with their use of the word because of potential desensitization to the crisis.
Once that bell has been rung,
though, what is clear is that for those starving, defining "famine" or "food
emergency" makes little difference in living through the day. Finding sustenance is all that matters.
where Food For the Hungry comes in.
Shep Owen with FH says they implemented some long-term livestock programs in Northern
Kenya two years ago because of the cyclical nature of drought. Other programs covered livelihood
development, and water and sanitation.
programs had time to mature, and they could respond to the coming trouble. "The
reality is that the famine has been coming in Somalia for a while. I mean, there were pretty clear signs, even
six months ago, that it would likely move this way."
Sales from those were reinvested in the local economy and
the funds served as a coping mechanism to keep food access open for these
communities. As a result, says Owen,
"The investments from U.S. AID over the last two years in northern Kenya have
allowed the communities that we've been working with to withstand this drought
in ways that they wouldn't have been prior to that work." Owen adds that it proves this approach works.
"It's possible to address immediate lifesaving needs with long-term approaches
that don't undercut the development of the areas."
Seeing that success duplicated during an immediate crisis
might be a challenge. Somali insurgents
are still causing problems for those trying to help, despite promises to allow
foreign aid groups in. The *Al Qaeda-linked Al Shabaab's policies have kept lawlessness
alive. That, in turn, prevents
humanitarian programs from getting started. Owen notes, "Our team had asked us as well if we were
contemplating opening programs in Somalia again, and I indicated that unless
you are a really massive organization that can provide security, it's a very
perilous place to try to implement programs."
Al Shabaab has also been wreaking havoc outside of Somalia's borders, which creates more
hesitation, says Owen. "Even in Kenya, we've had staff that were in our
consortiums that were abducted in
northern Kenya by the same group."
Pray that God would continue to use Food for the Hungry's
multiple outreaches to bring relief, hope and the right kind of help to
vulnerable children, families and communities. Pray for wisdom and strength for their Emergency
Response Unit (ERU) and staff in affected countries. "Jesus would ask us to be right there with
the widows and the orphans–those who are hungry. This is doing what the Lord
would have us do, and through God's sovereign grace, we trust that His will is
seen and done."