When the earthquake struck Haiti in 2010 and millions were in desperate need of aid, Americans quickly rallied support. A telethon called Hope For Haiti, featuring some of the most famous performers, raised millions almost overnight.
Taylor Swift performing at the Hope for Haiti event to help earthquake victims. Will there be a similar event for famine relief in East Africa? (Photo Credit: Mark Davis/Hope for Haiti Now/PictureGroup)
This is really the great humanitarian tradition of the United States at work, a tradition that became very deeply rooted during the two World Wars and the Korean conflict. War breeds famine. American generosity came through to save millions during and after each conflict.
That same generosity was at work in Haiti. Today, the enemy of hunger and famine is on the attack again. There are over 11 million people in East Africa wondering where their next meal will come from, as severe drought, loss of crops and livestock, conflict, and high food prices have all hit at once. Mothers are watching their children suffer the ravages of hunger and malnutrition.
Parts of Somalia have been declared a famine zone. Refugees are pouring into Kenya and Ethiopia. But these countries are also suffering from the massive drought and need food aid.
Aid agencies are there. They are doing their best. They are underfunded, and the situation in East Africa is likely to get much worse as the drought persists.
The UN World Food Programme (WFP), the lead agency fighting the famine, needs donations to carry out its relief mission. Every person in the United States, contributing even a dollar to the WFP, could ensure enough food supplies for this emergency.
What we need is a spirited response as we saw with Hope for Haiti. In fact, it’s something we should expect of ourselves.
Ninety years ago today the heroic American Relief Administration under Herbert Hoover embarked on a mission to save millions of lives in the Great Russian Famine. These World War I era heroes overcame many challenges to do just that. The American people supported them with their generosity even though times were tough, and the horror of world war was barely in the rearview mirror.
Times may be tough today too in America. But when times are hard, you cannot turn inward and ignore what is happening out in the world.
There is a massive global hunger crisis afflicting nearly one billion people, probably higher than that now. It’s taking its harshest toll on the people of East Africa. The victims of drought and famine in East Africa need help. They need food. They need hope.
To donate to the World Food Programme, visit their East Africa Emergency fund.