American Baptists Respond to Call for Emergency Relief, Aid Drought-Ravaged East Africa

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American Baptists Respond to Call for Emergency Relief, Aid Drought-Ravaged East Africa

VALLEY FORGE, PA (ABNS 7/27/11)—American Baptist International Ministries has released an emergency relief grant of $20,000 in One Great Hour of Sharing (OGHS) funds to Church World Service (CWS) to provide aid in several drought-ravaged countries in East Africa.

More than 10 million people in East Africa are struggling to survive the driest period in the Eastern Horn of Africa region since 1995. The drought is causing widespread crop failure, devastating livestock and causing substantial increases in food prices, according to a CWS spokesperson. In hard-hit Somalia alone, some 3.7 million people are now facing a crisis.

In total, CWS is calling for $1.2 million to provide immediate relief and longer-term food security/nutrition and water initiatives. CWS work will be focused in Kenya, and support ACT Alliance partners providing relief in Somalia and Ethiopia.

“Our churches have responded generously to disasters in Haiti, Chile and Japan in recent years and months,” commented Charles Jones, IM area director for Africa, Europe and the Middle East. “The tragedy emerging right now on the Horn of Africa is different. It has been unfolding quietly over a longer period of time, yet it is no less destructive and painful. It is claiming its victims slowly and painfully, as they struggle to find sources of food and shelter.”

According to CWS, food security — the access and availability to food — has deteriorated for most households in all arid and semi-arid regions in Kenya, Somalia and Ethiopia as well as other countries in the region. In a word, the situation has become a crisis. Crops have failed, large numbers of livestock have perished, and local food prices have increased substantially.

Among the characteristics of this crisis: Deepening food insecurity in pastoral areas and in urban poor settings; the rate of acute malnutrition among children in these areas is steadily increasing; and Kenya is experiencing an unprecedented influx of refugees fleeing drought conditions from Somalia.

Earlier this week, the United Nations declared that famine exists in two areas of southern Somalia, southern Bakool and Lower Shabelle. (Famine is declared when acute rates of malnutrition exist among children, exceeding 30 percent; when more than two persons per 10,000 die daily; and when people are not able to access and sufficiently utilize food and other basics.)

Church World Service is a member of the ACT Alliance, a global coalition of churches and agencies engaged in development, humanitarian assistance and advocacy. American Baptist Churches USA (ABC) is a member of CWS.

Emergency donations are needed. They can be made on the IM website:, or by a check payable to “One Great Hour of Sharing – East Africa Drought” and either given to your church, or mailed to:International Ministries, P.O. Box 851, Valley Forge, PA 19482.

One Great Hour of Sharing is administered by the World Relief Committee of the General Board. The Committee facilitates American Baptist emergency relief, disaster rehabilitation, refugee work, and development assistance by establishing policy guidelines and overseeing distribution of the annual One Great Hour of Sharing offering.

American Baptist International Ministries, organized in 1814, is the first Baptist Mission organization formed in North America. IM brings US and Puerto Rico churches together with global Christian partners in holistic ministries that meet human needs and help people come to Christ, grow in Christ and change their worlds with Christ.

American Baptist Churches is one of the most diverse Christian denominations today, with 5,500 local congregations comprised of 1.3 million members, across the United States and Puerto Rico, all engaged in God’s mission around the world.