Y Care International, the international relief and development agency of the YMCA in the UK and Ireland, has launched an emergency appeal for communities affected by the worsening food crisis in East Africa.The charity is supporting the relief efforts of YMCAs in the region, and the work of members of the global alliance ACT International in Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia and Malawi. Donations to the appeal will go towards urgent food aid and other relief work.Over 10 million people are in urgent need of aid and their lives are at risk if food and water do not arrive soon.
The failure of the annual rains last year has triggered the emergency in East Africa, but it has been developing over recent years with poor or no rainfall. Although some rains have now been reported, there are concerns these may worsen the situation by causing the spread of disease.Where communities have coped in the past, their methods of coping are no longer working. People depend on crops and livestock for their survival but both are in depletion as the situation deteriorates.
As water sources dry up, famine conditions and deaths are being reported.In one of the worst affected countries, Kenya, the President has declared the famine a ‘national disaster’ – 3.5 million Kenyans are facing starvation. In Malawi, the rains were as normal until January 2005, when they stopped three months early, severely damaging crops.In other cases across the region, many children are too weak to walk to school or families have no money to pay their school fees.
Money donated to the appeal will help save lives where malnutrition is becoming severe and will help people survive day-to-day. Y Care International’s partners will address the immediate food and water needs of the worst affected communities by distributing food, water tankering for domestic and livestock use, as well as drilling and repairing boreholes.
Assistance is also needed for more long-term needs, like restocking farmers’ cattle and seed stock in preparation for the next crop season.As well as emergency food distribution, YMCAs in the region are providing a health centre and income generating activities, as well as planning education to give people the skills to cope with drought in the future.Donations to Y Care International’s East Africa Emergency Appeal can be made at www.ycare.org.uk and also over the counter at high street building societies and some banks.