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Christian Ministries Responding to Drought in Africa

[This post continues the previous two about poverty and the Christian community.  It turns from theological and Biblical reflection and theory to note the current drought, famine, and human catastrophe facing many countries in Africa.]

The drought in many parts of Africa is serious but very little in the news as the intrigues of Washington, London, Paris, and Berlin capture the headlines. World Relief says that the drought is the worst hitting Africa since 1945.[1]  According to IRIN, thousands, even millions, of people (the numbers are given in parentheses) in seventeen countries are facing severe circumstances in Africa after two years of drought: Eritrea (450,000+), Ethiopia (5.7 million), Djibouti (227,463), Somalia (6.2 million), Sudan (4.6 million), Kenya (2.6 million), Uganda (390,000+), Tanzania (unknown), Malawi (6.7 million), Angola (1.2 million), Zimbabwe (4.1 million), Madagascar (978,000), Mozambique (2 million+), Swaziland (638,000), Lesotho (159,959), Burundi (3 million), and Rwanda (unknown).[2]  Another assessment, by the ‘Charity Navigator,’ says with particular reference to Somalia that:[3]

·       11.3 million people in the Horn of Africa are in need of food assistance due to the drought
·       Food prices are up as much as 200% in parts of Somalia
·       Greater than 3.7 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance in Somalia
·       Almost half of the population is malnourished in the southern parts of Somalia – this is the highest malnutrition rate in the world
Action Aid currently reports (but no date is given on the website) that 3.5-5 million in Kenya are in urgent need of food until the possibility of the next rainy season comes in October.[4]  UNICEF highlights the crisis in four countries: Nigeria (450,000 children), Somalia (270,000 children), South Sudan (270,000 children), and (outside Africa) Yemen (460,000 children).[5]  Even so, not all countries facing drought are listed.  South Africa and Zambia, for example, also need to be added to the list of drought-stricken regions.[6]  Oxfam estimates the following:[7]
·       Ethiopia: 300,000 acutely malnourished children 9.2 million people without safe drinking water, and 5.6 million people in need of food
·       Kenya: 2.7 million severely at risk in the semi-arid and coastal regions
·       Somalia: 6.2 million in need of food and 360,000 acutely malnourished children
·       South Sudan: 7.5 million in need of humanitarian assistance due to conflict, half the population facing extreme hunger by mid-July
As can be seen from the rounded and different numbers and the different countries listed, there is a need to verify the information various groups present.  However, the crisis—whatever it is—is very real.
There are several causes of the catastrophe in the various areas.  In some cases, flooding has destroyed crops.  However, the major cause of the disaster is the failure of rains for two successive seasons.  War and displacement of people are also a major causes of the current catastrophe in Africa.
Various countries and aid agencies have responded to the need.  For example, Turkey has announced an aid campaign through the Turkish Red Crescent.[8]  USAID’s Foreign Disaster Assistance has given approximately $4.2 million ‘in multi-sector assistance and USAID’s Office of Food for Peace has provided more than $52 million in emergency food assistance’ for hard hit areas in Southern Africa—Angola, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Swaziland, and Namibia.[9]  The Independent reported in February, 2017 that the United Kingdom would send 100 million pounds each to Somalia and South Sudan.[10]

What are Christian charities doing to address these needs?  The following list of agencies and missions randomly selected highlights several important and interesting efforts underway by Christians.  (No ranking or advocacy for any agency is intended.  Nor is this by any means a complete list.)  In my view, the safest and best funding of aid and missions is funding that includes persons working for the agency on the ground and that has a high percentage of the funds actually going to the relief effort.[11]  A combination of aid and mission work can address both physical and spiritual needs and allow first-hand assessment of real needs.
Africa Oasis Project:


‘The Africa Oasis Project (AOP) is an aggressive effort to respond to the critical problem of inadequate and unsafe water creating high-risk in the lives of people throughout Africa.’
‘Faith-based - An approved effort of U.S. Assemblies of God World Missions-Africa, partnering with a vast network of 45,000 local congregations throughout Africa as community touch points.’

Barnabas Aid:

The above website offers a map and list of projects that Barnabas Aid gives to in Africa, the Middle East, Asia, and Europe.

Compassion International

Areas in Africa that Compassion International reaches include Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda, and Tanzania.

Convoy of Hope

Convoy of Hope works domestically in the USA and internationally, including in relief work in Tanzania, Kenya, and Ethiopia.

Samaritan’s Purse:

Samaritan’s Purse is involved in a variety of aid projects, including water, sanitation, and hygiene.
World Vision:

World Vision highlights its present aid for drought and famine stricken areas affecting 70 million people in 2017: in Africa, these include Nigeria, South Sudan, Somalia, Kenya, Ethiopia, and the Lake Chad basin.

[2] ‘Drought in Africa 2017’ (17 March 2017).  See online:  The article briefly identifies issues each region is facing.  Accessed 16 May, 2017.
[4] ‘East Africa Drought Questions Answered.’  Online: Accessed 16 May, 2017.
[6] Ismail Akwei, ‘Reality of the Worst Drought Since 1945 Peaking in Parts of Africa,’ Africa News (16 May, 2017).  Online:  Accessed 16 May, 2017.
[8] Abdur Rahman Alfa Shaban, ‘Turkey Launches Aid Campaign for drought-hit Horn of Africa and Yemen,’ Africa News (16 May, 2017)Online:  Accessed 16 May, 2017.
[9] Online:  Accessed 16 May, 2017.
[10] Katie Forster, ‘Somalia and South Sudan to Receive ₤100 Million Each in UK Aid,’ Independent (21 February, 2017).  Online:  Accessed 16 May, 2017.
[11] Note that ‘Charity Navigator’ lists how much of funds collected actually goes to the need itself—an important issue given the fact that some relief efforts have, notoriously, spent more on themselves than the crisis for which they have raised funds.  However, they do not cover every charity: it should be used for the charities it lists, but it should not be used to rule out other charities.