Food crisis calls for long-term response

As relief organizations minister to thousands suffering from drought
and famine in the Horn of Africa, some religious leaders say they are
exploring short- and long-term strategies for ending the reliance on
food aid.

The worst drought in 60 years is affecting more than 12
million people in Kenya, Ethiopia, Djibouti and Somalia. Its epicenter
is Somalia, where tens of thousands are fleeing to refugee camps in
Kenya and Ethiopia.

"We would not only want to work on the
immediate needs, but we are thinking, because this is becoming a chronic
problem, we have got to see the root causes and fight [them],"
Archbishop Ian Ernest, chairman of the Council of Anglican Provinces of
Africa, told news reporters August 10 in Nairobi after a meeting of
Anglican archbishops.

"We are calling for immediate action to
address the needs and root causes of the crisis in Somalia and the
refugee population in Kenya and Ethiopia," said Ernest. The archbishops
said donations are urgently needed.

As he spoke, an average of
1,300 Somali migrants fleeing both civil unrest and famine continued to
arrive daily at the Dadaab refugee camp in northern Kenya, which has
become the world's largest camp—a small city of tents in a dusty desert.

camp holds more than 400,000 migrants, according to the UN High
Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), with new arrivals being settled in
rows of identical white tents, portable latrines and mobile health

While the rate of arrivals remains steady in Kenya, the
daily arrivals have dropped  significantly in Ethiopia from 2,000 to
400, with no clear explanation, said Lemma Degefa, the Lutheran World
Federation country representative there. Ethiopia is hosting 114,539
Somali refugees in the Dolo Odo area in the east.

The UN's World
Food Program is providing high-energy biscuits for a day's nutritional
needs to new arrivals, in addition to a three-week food ration. All
children under age five and pregnant women in the refugee camps and the
transit centers are receiving special nutrition products. In Ethiopia, a
total of about 42,000 children are benefiting.

UN Humanitarian
Aid chief Catherine Bragg told the Security Council on August 10 that
$1.3 billion in relief aid is still needed, in addition to the $1
billion already committed by world governments.

Separately, Martin
Junge, general secretary of the Lutheran World Federation, which is
managing the Dadaab camp for UNHCR, asked in a statement that pressure
be put on governments to contribute to the relief efforts.

Kenya, the Anglican Church says that since last year it has spent over
$3.2 million in famine-related interventions. The UN program says 3.5
million people in the country are affected by the drought, worsened by
high food and fuel prices.

"This [intervention] has been going
because we discovered this [drought] a long time ago," said Archbishop
Eluid Wabukala of Kenya in a statement. "The famine we are facing did
not come as a surprise, as the drought was predicted well in advance,"
he said.

The effects of the drought will be ongoing and will
spread, Junge added. "After the drought is over we have to prepare for
mid-term and longer-term solutions for rehabilitation, climate change
adaptation, and disaster preparedness," he said.  —ENInews

Fredrick Nzwili

Fredrick Nzwili is a journalist and media consultant based in Nairobi, Kenya.

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