BALTIMORE, August 17, 2011 /Christian Newswire
/ -- As the number of people in danger of starvation continues to increase in East Africa, Lutheran World Relief is working with partners on the ground to carry out an immediate and long-term crisis response.
"With more than 12 million people now at risk of starvation, LWR and partners are acting now to reach people in need," says LWR president John Nunes.
The worst drought in 60 years has taken hold in Kenya, Somalia, Ethiopia and Djibouti, sending millions of people to the brink of starvation. Last week, the United Nations declared famine in two additional regions of Somalia, bringing the number of regions experiencing famine to five.
LWR already committed $500,000 to its immediate response through partner The Lutheran World Federation to expand its work in Kenya and Ethiopia to reach drought-affected families and is now working with partners to plan a longer term response.
In Kenya, more than 1,500 people a day are arriving at the refugee camps in Dadaab in dire need of food, water and medical attention. Some have walked upwards of 15 days to reach the camps. Most are in poor physical condition, especially children, many of whom are arriving malnourished.
"The stories we've heard from the ground are horrific," reports Tim McCully, LWR's Vice President for International Programs. "We've heard that many parents are arriving having buried one or more of their children along the way. People have also had to leave weaker family members behind in order to reach safety themselves."
Through a grant from the U.S. Bureau of Refugees, Population and Migration, LWR and LWF have worked together in the Dadaab camps since 2008, to link vulnerable refugees to social services, provide shelter and promote security within the camps. In addition, LWR and LWF address the needs of neighboring communities through sanitation programs.
In response to the worsening crisis, LWR and LWF are working to provide water to vulnerable families living in and around the Dadaab camps as well as distributing non-food items, like baby care items to new mothers.
LWR and LWF are also working in Ethiopia to reach out to drought-stricken communities through food distributions, supplementary food for young children and new mothers and tools, seeds and other supplies for farmers to recover their agricultural livelihoods and food production.
"While LWR, along with the world, remains concerned about the desperate situation in East Africa right now," continues McCully, "we have unique expertise helping rural, developing communities implement strategies to safeguard and build up their livelihoods through sustainable development. We believe working this way will save even more lives in the future."
To support a long-term, sustainable development response to the drought in East Africa, aimed at rebuilding agricultural livelihoods and reducing communities' vulnerability to future droughts, LWR must raise $3 million by the end of 2011.
"The emergency response to this crisis is so important," says Nunes. "We are working to save lives in the face of a dire situation. But that's only the first step. To truly end hunger in East Africa, we need to invest in long-term, sustainable solutions."
LWR is accepting donations to the East Africa Drought fund online at lwr.org/donate
, by phone at 800.597.5972 or by mail at P.O. Box 17061, Baltimore, MD 21298-9832.
Lutheran World Relief, an international nonprofit organization, works to end poverty and injustice by empowering some of the world's most impoverished communities to help themselves. With partners in 35 countries, LWR seeks to promote sustainable development with justice and dignity by helping communities bring about change for healthy, safe and secure lives; engage in Fair Trade; promote peace and reconciliation; and respond to emergencies. LWR is headquartered in Baltimore, Md. and has worked in international development and relief since 1945. Lutheran World Relief is a ministry of U.S. Lutherans, serving communities living in poverty overseas.