Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Can you spare 68 pence today?

The drought in East Africa and its consequences are making news headlines. Many countries in the region have had little or no rain for at least two years, resulting in crop failures and corresponding food shortages.

These shortages are not exclusively an East African problem but are, in fact, worldwide. This year, one third of the crops in Russia have failed, which led to the Russians banning the export of wheat in an effort to maintain supplies for their own population. This has clearly put pressure on other supplies and all markets.

The resulting shortages have caused worldwide food prices to soar. In places like Uganda prices for basic foods such as sugar, flour and beans increased by as much as 300%. Those who struggled to pay before have absolutely no hope now.

Another effect of the drought has been the widespread deaths of livestock, which not only cuts off food supplies but, for many, means the loss of most, if not all, of their income.

Most parents try to put the needs of their children first. Thus, adults stop eating to ensure children have as much as possible. Malnourished parents die, leaving vulnerable orphans.

If 15% of a country’s population is malnourished, it is considered an emergency situation. In much of east Africa at the moment the level of malnutrition is at 37% or higher. Eleven million people are affected, the worst hit areas being Somalia, Northern Kenya, Northern Uganda, Southern Ethiopia and the Sudan.

Drought and famine affect everything. In Kenya and Uganda, schools are closing because the children are too hungry and weak to come. Without an education, they cannot hope to break free of the cycle of poverty in the future, and their lives will be permanently blighted.

Long term malnutrition stores up more problems for the future. Certain deficiencies in people now will lead to increased numbers of disabled children being born in future, putting more pressure on an already oppressed society. And perversely, malnutrition now can lead to obesity related illnesses in the future. Research shows that malnutrition in children leads to stunted growth, which in turn leads to lower than usual metabolisms, fat is more easily deposited in the body and is harder to get rid of, and diabetes and heart disease become problems. It is, therefore, in our long term interests to overcome the immediate problems as quickly as we can.

World In Need works with some of the hardest hit people in Northern Kenya, close to the border with Somalia, and also in Northern Uganda, where our Director, George Amoli, tells us that parents are abandoning hungry children at camps, hoping this will give the children a chance at survival.

Small amounts make a huge difference to starving people. For instance, £20 will feed a family of eight for a month. That is just 68 pence a day, less than the cost of a double Mars bar.

If you would like to help us to help these people, you can donate at our page:, or you can phone us at 01892 669834.

Don’t worry if your donation is small. Every penny is precious to those who receive.

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