There’s been considerable coverage of the East Africa famine over the past two weeks. In his NY Times op-ed last Sunday, Nick Kristof wrote about a famine-related subject that, for many people, is an afterthought: the unspeakable violence against women and girls that escalates in the face of food insecurity. Kristof writes:
“At the very moment when you think you’re secure, you encounter a nightmare broached only in whispers: an epidemic of violence and rape. As Somalis stream across the border into Kenya, at a rate of about 1,000 a day, they are frequently prey to armed bandits who rob men and rape women in the 50-mile stretch before they reach Dadaab, now the world’s largest refugee camp. It is difficult to know how many women are raped because the subject is taboo. But more than half of the newly arrived Somalis I interviewed, mostly with the help of CARE, said they had been attacked by bandits, sometimes in Somalia but very often on Kenyan soil. Some had been attacked two or three times.” Read More
Over the past few weeks, we’ve been keeping you updated on our response to the famine in East Africa. The situation remains dire, but we’re beginning to see the positive impact of some of our partners.
Take, for example, AJWS’s long-time partner Northern Aid (NAID)—an organization that has been implementing relief, rehabilitation and development initiatives in northeastern Kenya since 1995. Through an innovative, locally-sourced food distribution program, (NAID) is providing direct assistance to marginalized pastoralist communities and vulnerable female-headed households in northern Kenya. NAID is buying goats and cows that will not survive the drought, slaughtering the animals, and distributing the meat to over 10,000 vulnerable households. This is providing a livelihood to pastoralists whose entire herds will likely be wiped out by the drought, preventing livestock prices from completely bottoming out, and supplying much-needed income to pastoralists so they can support their families. NAID’s efforts are also delivering food to women and children and supporting at least 800 female headed households with animal feed to ensure that their remaining animals do not die from the drought and can provide a steady supply of milk.
Originally posted on the Global Circle blog.
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Last week, I wrote about the horrors of the ongoing drought and famine crisis in East Africa and what AJWS is doing to respond. As the crisis continues to unfold, we are hearing more and more about the perils faced by Somalis and Kenyans fleeing the famine. Today, however, instead of writing about the number of children who have died from the crisis or stories of women who have been raped, I want to share a story of hope.
Shortly after the crisis began, several Kenyan corporations joined forces to form the Kenyans 4 Kenya campaign. In addition to raising over $3.5 million from Kenyan companies, the initiative has also managed to raise nearly $2.5 million from Kenyan citizens. One hundred percent of the funds raised by the campaign will be given to the Kenya Red Cross to support drought-affected communities in north eastern Kenya.
There is no denying the severity of the crisis in East Africa right now. We’ve read the headlines and seen horrifying photos of starving children. The situation is getting worse every day. Two days ago, the United Nations declared a famine in three more areas of Somalia. The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) estimates that nearly 30,000 children under the age of five have died because of the crisis. By September, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) predicts that the whole of Somalia and parts of Kenya, Ethiopia and Uganda will be under famine conditions. Read More
The current famine in East Africa demonstrates, more than ever, the importance of U.S. food aid in a time of crisis. But did you know that Congress is trying to cut this vital humanitarian aid? It’s true, and it’s dangerous. Fiscal responsibility is important, but when human lives are at stake, we cannot make trade-offs. Stand with AJWS and tell your member of Congress to preserve funding for international food aid.