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Starvation in the Horn of Africa: We Can Stop This Tragedy

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They are calling it one of the worst droughts in 60 years to strike the Horn of Africa. Food is out of reach for 9 million people in the already impoverished countries of Somalia, Kenya, Ethiopia, Djibouti and parts of Uganda.

Matt Croucher of Save the Children says, “Thousands of children could starve if we don’t get life-saving help to them fast. Parents no longer have any way to feed their children; they’ve lost their animals, their wells have dried up and food is too expensive to afford. We can stop this tragedy unfolding, but we only have half the money we need. We urgently need to raise the rest so we can save more children’s lives.”

This is what a bad drought looks like. It’s a picture taken yesterday in northeastern Kenya. You can’t see them, but on the other side of the camera are WFP staff working to bring food to the people who live here.(from the World Food Programme Facebook page)

Save the Children reports, “More than a quarter of children in the worst-hit parts of Kenya are now dangerously malnourished, and in Somalia malnutrition rates have reached 30 percent in some areas, making the Horn of Africa one of the hungriest places on earth.”

Rains that were needed to grow food did not come. Whatever food is available cannot be accessed because of high prices.

Adding to the tragedy is the civil conflict in Somalia, which is forcing many to flee to Kenya and Ethiopia where they crowd into refugee camps. Child malnutrition is on the rise in these camps.

Josette Sheeran, the director of the UN World Food Programme (WFP) says,  “resources are thin and at the very moment that we should be ramping up operations, we have been scaling back some programmes in Ethiopia and Somalia.” WFP, which aims to feed 6 million in the Horn of Africa, depends on voluntary contributions. However, many of it missions worldwide are low on funding.

Both WFP and Save the Children have launched emergency appeals to save lives in the drought-stricken region. Food aid now can break the domino effect of hunger taking place in the Horn of Africa. Failure to act will push more people deeper into dangerous and even deadly malnutrition. Children who are malnourished can suffer lasting physical and mental damage.

What can you do to help? Do what Americans did in 1947 to fight hunger in the World War II affected countries by feeding a “silent guest” at your next meal, this time the guest being a starving child in the Horn of Africa. You send the donation to feed that silent guest to one of the aid agencies, such as Save the Children and the World Food Programme.

If everyone takes in a Silent Guest at one of your next meals, so many lives in the Horn of Africa can be saved. Even a donation of 1 dollar can mean 4 or 5 meals that might make all the difference.

Two places you can donate are the Save the Children Child Hunger Crisis Fund and the UN World Food Programme’s Save Lives in Drought-Stricken East Africa appeal.

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About William Lambers

William Lambers is the author of several books including Ending World Hunger: School Lunches for Kids Around the World. This book features over 50 interviews with officials from the UN World Food Programme and other charities discussing school feeding programs that fight child hunger. He is also the author of Nuclear Weapons, The Road to Peace: From the Disarming of the Great Lakes to the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, Open Skies for Peace, The Spirit of the Marshall Plan: Taking Action Against World Hunger, School Lunches for Kids Around the World, The Roadmap to End Global Hunger, From War to Peace and the Battle of Britain. He is also a writer for the History News Service. His articles have been published by newspapers including the Cincinnati Enquirer, Des Moines Register, the New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Buffalo News, San Diego Union Tribune, the Providence Journal, Free Lance-Star (VA), the Bakersfield Californian, the Washington Post, Miami Herald (FL), Chicago Sun-Times, the Patriot Ledger (MA), Charleston Sunday Gazette Mail (WV), the Cincinnati Post, Salt Lake Tribune (UT), North Adams Transcript (MA), Wichita Eagle (KS), Monterey Herald (CA), Athens Banner-Herald (GA) and the Duluth News Journal. His articles also appear on History News Network (HNN) and Think Africa Press. Mr. Lambers is a graduate of the College of Mount St. Joseph in Ohio with degrees in Liberal Arts (BA) and Organizational Leadership (MS). He is also a member of the Feeding America Blogger Council.