At the foundation, we focus on stimulating lasting change. But we also recognize the need to move with urgency in times of crisis. In the Horn of Africa, the worst drought conditions in decades—exacerbated by political instability—have put more than 11 million people in immediate need of food assistance.
The foundation has made two emergency response grants to the region totaling $1.7 million.
The situation is most severe in two regions of southern Somalia where the United Nations has declared famine. Hundreds of thousands of refugees are on the move, seeking support at relief camps in Ethiopia and Kenya. The majority of refugees arriving are women and children. Some have walked up to three weeks, with little food or water, to reach these relief camps.
As a doctor with more than a decade of experience delivering emergency assistance to survivors of civil conflict and natural disasters, I know that rapid intervention is critical to increasing child survival and preventing lifelong disabilities caused by hunger and dehydration. Our grants will focus on delivering nutrition to affected communities while helping people adopt new strategies to strengthen their food security in the long run. To do this best, the grants are to organizations with on-the-ground experience in the affected regions and deep expertise in managing severe crises.
Supporting Somali Refugees in Ethiopia and Kenya
To provide immediate support to refugees in East Africa, we’ve awarded $800,000 to Save the Children (SAVE) and $900,000 to the International Rescue Committee (IRC). Over a one-year period, the SAVE funding will provide nutrition for 4,000 malnourished children under age 5, pregnant and lactating women, and especially vulnerable individuals such as orphans, the disabled, and the elderly.
The IRC funds will support 80,000 Somali refugees who are expected to migrate into northeastern Kenya’s Fafi District over the next several months. The funding will provide food and medical help to the refugees, as well as special assistance to women and girls who are survivors of sexual assault. IRC will also help local farmers diversify their crops and help pastoralists protect their animals through emergency access to financial services.
Response to Drought in Central Niger
Enduring drought conditions are also affecting families beyond the Horn of Africa. Last year, the foundation responded to Niger’s growing food crisis with a $950,000 grant to Lutheran World Relief (LWR), and this year we awarded an additional $584,000 to address the ongoing crisis. Niger’s government confirmed this spring that drought has severely affected food production; more than half of the country’s population is food-insecure.
Food scarcity has also driven up the cost of basic staples beyond the affordability of most families. The crisis is exacerbated by a dramatic influx of people fleeing insecurity in Libya and Cote d’Ivoire. LWR will deliver food assistance to more than 40,000 people in rural areas surrounding the central Nigerien town of Kalfou while helping residents develop better ways to cope with grain shortages and price shocks.
Looking forward, it’s important to note that these current crises underscore the need for long-term solutions that will help rural families manage through severe drought and other challenges that impact their ability to provide food for their families and communities.
Through our Agricultural Development Program, the foundation is deeply committed to helping poor farming families in the developing world boost their yields and income so they can overcome hunger and poverty. To date we’ve invested more than $1.8 billion in such efforts in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. We are also in constant conversation with a range of other donors and partners who have a role to play in helping ensure food security for these families.
Our thoughts are with the people in these drought-affected areas in this time of great need. We will continue to monitor the crisis closely and work with other donors and partners to assess where and how we can best help.
Famine, Drought, Africa, Children, Hunger, Poverty, Agriculture, Emergency Grants, Save The Children (STC), International Rescue Committee (IRC), Refugees, Lutheran World Relief (LWR), Horn of Africa, United Nations (UN), Dehydration, Girls, Women, Sexual Assault