East Africa (MNN) — Funding for the Southern Baptist World Hunger Fund is at its lowest in 20 years.
Current funding will only cover the next six months of feeding projects.
The financial drought couldn't have come at a more desperate time. Millions are on the brink of starvation in the Horn of Africa, and tens of thousands of lives have already been lost. Christians want to save these hungry people physically and spiritually but can't if funding for already existing projects is already depleted.
As two consecutive years of zero rainfall have caused severe famine in East Africa, two consecutive years of financial droughts have plagued the World Hunger Fund, making it difficult for Southern Baptists to respond to the crisis.
The "red alert" crisis in the World Hunger Fund has emerged, just as giving to the World Hunger Fund has sharply declined, reports the International Mission Board. The overseas portion of the hunger relief fund is down to $4.1 million–enough to meet the needs of Southern Baptist international hunger projects for just six months, without considering response to the Africa crisis.
$4.3 million was donated to the World Hunger Fund in 2010–only 40% of what was given during a 12-month span a decade earlier, and the lowest donations to the fund have been in 20 years.
Still, the International Mission Board reports that Southern Baptist famine relief efforts are gearing up in the Horn of Africa regardless.
"We are delighted to report that one feeding site is operating, and assessments are in process in two other locations," says Jeff Palmer with Baptist Global Response. "We are going places that few other organizations can go, and we are able to do this in a large part due to the generosity of Southern Baptists and their contributions to the World Hunger Fund."
Getting projects underway has been a real challenge for even the largest humanitarian groups in a crisis that has hit Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, South Sudan, Sudan, Uganda and Somalia. Support for the efforts BGR is making, however, is beginning to mobilize through the posting of a downloadable multimedia slideshow on the crisis.
"We have had a flood of inquiries from churches and individuals about how they can help people in desperate need in Africa," says Palmer. "We've been able to talk with them about the ‘red alert' crisis in the Southern Baptist World Hunger Fund, but we haven't been able to offer them much by way of information about relief efforts underway or media resources to help raise support."
The new video now provides not only statistics and information about the famine, but offers people ways to get involved. If you are looking for ways to help save lives in East Africa with physical and spiritual nourishment, click here to watch the two-minute video.
"Humanitarian partners on the ground are saying the people are very responsive to the expressions of God's love they are seeing and hearing," Palmer said. "But the scope of this crisis is enormous and rooted in long-term environmental and social problems. Please keep praying that God would raise up a multitude of Christians to help these people in their time of need."