Refugees line up to be registered at the Ifo extension camp near Dadaab, Kenya.

Being part of the solution

What’s in the news today? Lindsey Lohan is going to jail and Kim Kardashian is getting divorced. I guess these things are considered news…

Refugees line up to be registered at the Ifo extension camp near Dadaab, Kenya.
Refugees line up to be registered at the Ifo extension camp near Dadaab, Kenya.

Unfortunately, there’s less and less coverage of the ongoing famine crisis in the Horn of Africa. Yet the UN estimates 750,000 lives are at risk, and millions are still hungry. Most of the recent articles seem to focus on the hopelessness of Somalia, where the greatest number of people are suffering.

But amidst the news articles about the dangers and challenges faced by aid organizations trying to reach these people, we’ve been blessed with some excellent exposure in the New York Times today and last week. Our innovative use of vouchers was highlighted in a column called “Fixes,” which looks at solutions to social problems and why they work.

Of all the ways to have our work recognized, we’re most appreciative when the focus is on the solution. If you’re a supporter of World Concern, you are part of that solution. Instead of wringing our hands in despair, together, we’re doing something. It feels good, doesn’t it?

In the past few months, we’ve reached more than 30,000 people with food vouchers. Families are able to purchase specific food items (beans, rice, oil, salt and sugar) – enough to last them several weeks. The system supports the local economy and helps ensure aid ends up in the hands of those who need it most.

There are other creative solutions being implemented. In drought-affected communities, we’re using existing resources to bring clean water to people. We’re enlisting the support and input of community members to find solutions, such as fixing broken wells, de-silting aging water pans and adding pumps to increase the capacity of wells. In one Kenyan community along the border that hosts refugees fleeing Somalia, the community paid for half the repairs. They will get their investment back if they take care of the well. You can bet their newly appointed water committee is doing just that!

Rain and mud hinder humanitarian access in Kenya.
Muddy roads are just one of many hindrances to delivering humanitarian aid in the Horn of Africa right now.

This is not to say our staff isn’t facing the same challenges many aid organizations are facing in the Horn of Africa, including insecurity and conflict, limited access and resources, and even … mud (pictured here). But despite these challenges, we’re forging ahead – because people need help.

Within a week of a recent attack on the town of Dhobley, Somalia, we were back, distributing vouchers so the neediest families could purchase food and emergency supplies. Recent rains in the area have prevented easy travel to the towns where we’re helping. There have been many long hours spent stuck in mud puddles, or coming up against water-covered roadways.

We know it is only because of God’s grace that we’ve been able to help in areas with limited access. We’re praying that more help reaches the people of Somalia soon. Please join us in praying for more solutions to this complex crisis.

Learn more about our famine response at www.worldconcern.org/crisis

Published by

Cathy Herholdt

Cathy Herholdt

Cathy Herholdt is World Concern's Marketing and Communications Director. With a background in journalism, Cathy honed her writing skills as a newspaper editor and now enjoys sharing the inspiring stories of those World Concern serves. She has served with World Concern since 2010.

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