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Friday, July 29, 2011

Donor Shares Question About Famine Aid

A donor contacted us with the following thoughtful question about the Africa Famine relief efforts:

“I am very troubled by the famine in Somalia and would like to help by sending a donation to a reputable organization. I've looked at a few on your website (thank you, I'm a big promoter of your organization), but I've heard some reports that aid cannot reach the needy in Somalia due to the government or other groups that are blocking such aid. I feel conflicted. I want to send money to help, but want some reassurance that it will reach the intended recipients. Can you give me some feedback on which organizations have been successful at getting their aid through?”

To help this donor get an answer, we invited each of the charities featured on our list of charities responding to this crisis to post a response here. We hope you’ll come back over the next few days and check for their responses.

(Photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Emmitt Hawks, Navy Visual News Service)

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Kini Schoop, UNICEF USA said...

This donor's question is understandable. There have been some confusing news reports this week. Although there are logistical challenges, UNICEF is reaching children in Somalia and is using all avenues available get supplies into some of the hardest-hit areas. UNICEF is the single largest agency delivering therapeutic and supplementary nutrition services in Somalia and has mounted a massive scale up of its operations.
So far UNICEF has delivered more than 1,300 metric tons of lifesaving supplies into southern Somalia, the epicenter of the crisis, including enough therapeutic supplies to treat more than 66,000 malnourished children and enough supplementary feeding supplies for 65,000 children. Most of these nutritional supplies have already reached children in Mogadishu and the regions of Gedo, Middle Juba, Lower Juba, Bay and Lower Shabelle in southern Somalia.
Supplies to reach up to 100,000 people have also been delivered to Mogadishu. These supplies consist of health kits with essential medicines to treat common childhood illnesses like diarrhea. Next week a vessel carrying hundreds of additional metric tons of nutritional supplies to provide blanket feeding for more than 20,000 families is expected to dock in Mogadishu. The ship will also deliver therapeutic milk and ready-to-use therapeutic food to treat more than 7,000 severely malnourished children.
Also in southern Somalia, UNICEF will begin blanket supplementary feeding for 150,000 households per month over the next two months. Thousands of displaced families have received rations of nutritious corn-soy blend, and UNICEF is working with partners to roll out feeding programs to provide an additional 8,000 people with three meals daily in locations where the displaced are arriving.
Kini Schoop - Director of Public Relations, U.S. Fund for UNICEF

Nyakatillamaniac said...

Dear Donor-

We at World Food Program USA wanted to let you know about the World Food Program’s (WFP) operations in the region.

Currently, more than 11 million people need WFP food assistance across the Horn of Africa. Your concerns for the southern region of Somalia are valid, as Somalia is probably the most dangerous country in which to operate. There are areas in Somalia that remain challenging, which WFP is not yet reaching, but WFP is identifying all operational options and avenues that will enable them to scale up to reach those most in need with life-saving nutritional products. They have already carried out three airlifts of specialized food into the capital Mogadishu and the Gedo region, with additional lifts planned. Also, in Somalia, they are feeding 1.5 million including more than 300,000 in and around Mogadishu; and they’re working to reach a further 2.2 million in areas of Somalia that have been inaccessible; in Ethiopia they are feeding 3.5 million; and in Kenya WFP is feeding 1.8 million people, including half a million refugees with the aim of scaling up to 2.7 million in the coming weeks.

WFP has anticipated the impact of the drought on communities and has been delivering a range of food assistance including emergency food rations, while supporting safety net programs. A clear sign of the positive impact such programs have had in building resiliency to shocks is that there are currently one-third the number of people suffering from the emergency than might otherwise have been affected in Ethiopia.

As part of WFP’s response to growing needs, they are now ramping up operations, with programs that focus on meeting the nutritional needs of young children, pregnant, and breast-feeding mothers, providing highly nutritious supplementary food products. WFP will continue its ongoing work in the region with governments, UN partners and NGOs to integrate relief efforts into longer term solutions that build resilience among communities in drought-prone areas.

If you’d like to learn more about WFP’s efforts in the region and what you can do to help, please visit their crisis page: www.wfp.org/crisis/horn-of-africa.


International Medical Corps said...

Despite insecure conditions and conflict, International Medical Corps has been operating in Somalia since 1991, when we were the first American non-governmental organization to enter the war-torn Somali capital of Mogadishu after the overthrow of President Siad Barre. Throughout the past two decades, we have worked inside Somalia to implement Primary Health Care, Nutrition, Emergency Feeding, Water/Sanitation/Hygiene (WASH) and Post Harvest Storage programs for vulnerable communities. Because we prioritize community-based care in Somalia and around the world, 96 percent of our field-based staff and health professionals are recruited locally. This has allowed us to maintain deep connections within the communities where we work and ensure the long-term strength of our local staffs. In addition, our global security protocols have allowed us to operate effectively in Somalia throughout protracted conflict, and deliver lifesaving relief to those who need it most.

In response to the East Africa drought and ensuing famine in southern Somalia, International Medical Corps has mobilized our local teams to respond immediately to this crisis. As hundreds of thousands of Somalis have already fled across its borders to neighboring countries including Ethiopia and Kenya, International Medical Corps is implementing a multi-faceted program to meet the needs of Somalis seeking basic resources within Somalia as well as in refugee camps in Ethiopia and Kenya.

Within Somalia, International Medical Corps is addressing nutrition needs in Somaliland and preparing to address emergency nutrition and water/sanitation/hygiene (WASH) needs in Central Somalia. In Somaliland, International Medical Corps with support from UNICEF is implementing an emergency nutrition program in Sool and Sanaag regions to mitigate the effects of drought and improve the nutrition status of children under the age of 5. We reach severely malnourished children with lifesaving nutrition interventions, and pregnant and lactating mothers with micronutrient supplementation tablets.

Through funding from USAID’s Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance, International Medical Corps will also implement nutrition and WASH services for drought-affected communities in Abudwak district of Galgaduud region in Central Somalia. The program will work to mitigate the effects of the drought as well as strengthen the capacity of the local population to more effectively deal with disasters in the future. Teams will focus on managing severe and moderate acute malnutrition, implementing nutrition education and behavior change, as well as improving water supplies and sanitation.

International Medical Corps is also addressing the needs of Somali refugees seeking refuge and basic resources at camps in Ethiopia and Kenya. In some camps, 1 in every 4 children newly arriving is severely malnourished. Our teams are operating supplementary feeding points where families can access nutrient-dense foods, as well as establishing referral pathways for children into advanced nutrition care. In addition, we are addressing sanitation and hygiene needs to thwart the spread of infectious disease in the overcrowded camp environments. This includes the construction of latrines and washrooms as well as disseminating hygiene education and hygiene kits to the community. We will continue to scale up our services throughout East Africa to meet the rapidly growing needs.

For more information on our response: www.InternationalMedicalCorps.org

To support our efforts in East Africa:

-Visit our website: www.InternationalMedicalCorps.org/EASTAFRICA

-Text AFRICA to 80888 to donate $10 – messaging and data rates may apply.

Sylvia Ross - Mercy Corps said...

Indeed, this donor’s concerns are understandable. As our colleagues at the World Food Program and UNICEF pointed out, humanitarian work in Somalia is logistically difficult and often dangerous. Nonetheless, Mercy Corps has been working in Somalia since 2005; we currently work in Puntland, Somaliland and Central regions providing education, improving livelihoods and promoting conflict resolution. In the past weeks, we have ramped up our programs, bringing aid and relief to those directly impacted by the drought. In order to ensure that aid gets to those most in need, Mercy Corps works directly within the impacted communities - these local connections are critical to the success of our work - and we monitor our aid closely. We are working to reach more than 265,000 people in Somalia who've been hit by the drought - helping them get water, food and income. For instance, we have started the cash-for-work program to help drought-affected families earn money with which to purchase water and food as prices for such goods have sky-rocketed. We are focusing our work on towns and villages across the region to keep people from risking their lives to flee to over-populated camps where the situation grows more and more dire.

To learn more about our efforts in Somalia, as well as the rest of the drought-affected Horn of Africa, go to http://www.mercycorps.org/hornofafricahungercrisis.

Umar al-Qadi, Mercy-USA for Aid and Development said...

Mercy-USA for Aid and Development has been working in Somalia since 1993. Working there is very challenging given two decades of armed conflict, the absence of a central government and poor essential infrastructure.
Despite this situation, one of the worst in the world and certainly the most difficult environment in which Mercy-USA works, we have been able to reach vulnerable children and their families in many, but not all parts, of Somalia. We are able to do this because of our strong grassroots presence and our partnerships with the communities we serve.
Our projects are located in Mogadishu and the South-Central regions of Mudug and Galgadud, as well as the northern areas of Puntland and Somaliland.
These projects, which assist thousands of vulnerable children and their families, focus on nutrition, primary health care and promotion, controlling infectious diseases and improving access to safe water, sanitation and hygiene. Mercy-USA's response to the ongoing drought and resultant food crisis involves supplementary and therapeutic feeding programs for malnourished children
under five years of age, as well as pregnant women and nursing mothers. The program also includes the digging of wells to provide safe drinking water and the distribution of 15-day family food rations to internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Mogadishu and Mudug.
These IDPs have left their homes in search of food and other relief because of the drought and resulting famine/food crisis.
Mercy-USA has already provided food to approximately 1,100 drought and famine-affected displaced families (about 6,600 persons) in Mogadishu and Mudug. We are digging 8 new wells to provide safe drinking water to four drought-affected villages with a combined population of approximately 16,500 persons and 115,000 livestock. The residents of these villages in Hobyo District of Mudug are agro-pastoralists and depend on their livestock for food and income.
Mercy-USA is also exploring the possibility of setting-up an IDP camp with all necessary services (proper temporary shelter, food, safe water, hygiene, sanitation, health care, etc.) for about 900 drought/famine displaced families in Mogadishu and other displaced families in Mudug.
For more information on Mercy-USA's work in Somalia, Kenya and other countries, please visit our website at http://mercyusa.org/whatsnew.cfm

Steve Nickel; Samaritan's Purse said...

Your gift to Samaritan's Purse will empower our staff and local partners in the area to meet critical needs in very practical ways. See how this is happening now:http://www.samaritanspurse.org/index.php/articles/food_crisis_in_kenya/. God bless you for caring.

Steve Nickel; Samaritan's Purse said...

Your gift will meet critical needs in practical ways through Samaritan's Purse. See how: http://www.samaritanspurse.org/index.php/articles/food_crisis_in_kenya/.
God bless you for caring.

Melissa Winkler - International Rescue Committee said...

The drought crisis throughout East Africa and the Horn is indeed alarming – considering that more than 10 million people are currently facing severe food shortages while rates of acute malnutrition soar. The situation in Somalia is especially troubling, as you suggest. Areas stricken by drought are vast and some remain inaccessible to humanitarian aid groups. But other desperate regions in Somalia are reachable and receiving help.

My organization, the International Rescue Committee, is working in the Mudug region of central Somalia, where we can operate freely and effectively. There, we provide a range of assistance for displaced farming families who have seen their livestock and pastures decimated by the drought. IRC teams are also aiding tens of thousands of Somali refugees pouring into camps in Kenya and Ethiopia—many barely clinging to life. A hospital that we run in Hagadera Camp, in Dadaab, Kenya is treating nearly 500 Somali refugees a day. The facility has a stabilization ward for severely malnourished children and our medical team there is working tirelessly to save the lives of these children and nurture them back to health. An Associated Press story that was issued today (http://www.miamiherald.com/2011/07/29/2336285/nurse-struggles-to-save-starving.html) focuses on the extraordinary work of one of our nurses at this hospital. In Ethiopia, IRC teams are trucking in water or expanding water-supply systems at three camps currently sheltering 82,000 refugees.

We do believe that a massive humanitarian response is needed to save the lives of millions at risk of hunger and disease. Food aid is essential right now, but the donor community also needs to focus on restoring livelihoods lost to the drought so that people can feed themselves. And access to medical care is critical as disease is the biggest killer in a famine, not starvation. You can learn more by visiting our web site, www.rescue.org. Thanks very much for your concern.

Melissa Winkler, Senior Director of Communications, International Rescue Committee

Ann Wang said...

While Plan does not work in Somalia, we know that many of our colleagues from other organizations are doing good work there, despite the challenging logistical and security situation.

However, Plan is active in continuing to provide life-saving aid to children and families in East Africa, in those countries where we have had a long-standing program presence. Thanks to the generosity of our donors, our emergency operations are now helping over 1.4 million people in Kenya, Ethiopia and South Sudan.

In Kenya, immediate aid will target over 260,000 people and will involve trucking in water, medicine, and delivering therapeutic feeding programs, supplementary feeding at schools, shelter and hygiene promotion.

Emergency work is underway in our program areas of Tharaka, Machakos, Kilifi and Kwale, as well areas outside our normal operations including Samburu and Kitui counties.

In Ethiopia, where Plan’s usual programs already reach some 700,000 people, we are providing emergency supplies of nutritious food for young children and mothers, school meals, water, seeds, livestock and fertilizers. Nearly 1 million people will be reached by the relief effort. Children are particularly vulnerable in disasters and the impact upon their welfare and protection is being carefully monitored.

In South Sudan, Plan is working with the World Food Program to ensure that children, especially girls, are supported with nutritious food so they can continue their education. More than 150,000 children are benefiting from Plan’s work.

For more information on our response to the crisis, please visit www.planusa.org.

International Medical Corps said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

The Somalia Famine is in fact an area-wide phenomenon reaching deep into Kenya, Ethiopia, South Sudan and Eritrea. In each country there has been severe drought; in some of these places there has been an absence of a unifying central government or a civil conflict which has displaced large numbers of people.

The media coverage of "death walk" of Somali mothers who are losing children while searching for water and food has focused on the world's largest refugee camp in and around Dadaab, Kenya. Arrivals have vastly outnumbered resources and NGOs are trying their best to provide food, water, shelter and medical care to this vast number of people; area-wide, 10 million are affected by drought.

Operation USA is using a very limited amount of private funds to focus on safe water resources. Initially that means purchasing and sending water purification tablets and other chemicals and water receptacles; in the second phase--funds permitting--drilling wells and possibly small-scale irrigation projects will be launched with local partners.

Inside Somalia, the United Nations--within limits--can operate; and, negotiations with Somali warlords and the Shabaab militia are in progress to allow NGOs to return to Somalia.

Operation USA's first project in Somalia was back in late 1980; then again in 1992-94 during yet another cycle of war, famine and dislocation. We have worked in Ethiopia through partners from 1984 to the present on various health and mental health projects--all with private funds.

Donors are justified to worry about access to those in need in Somalia but the millions in Kenya and Ethiopia are waiting to be helped with no impediments from their governments. The NGOs are working with Somalis driven from Somalia and, soon, expect to return to Somalia where many of them have years of experience.

Learn more about our work at www.opusa.org.

ShelterBox USA said...

While ShelterBox does not have a response team working in Somalia, huge numbers of refugees continue to flee to Kenya from Somalia as the drought and famine continue.

ShelterBox provides emergency shelter and equipment to help families after they are displaced by a natural disaster or conflict. We currently have teams working to distribute aid in East Africa--we've committed aid for 1,600 families in Ethiopia and 2,000 families in Kenya so far.

Our response teams have been working with many partners, including UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees), our global Rotary network, the Ethiopian government, the CCRDA (Consortium of Christian Relief and Development Agencies), Save the Children and other aid organizations, to establish the most effective way ShelterBox can help.

There are many obstacles to overcome but all our partners are doing what we can to get life-saving aid to people in desperate need. We’ve been advised that the situation in the camps is exceptionally bad and our aid will make a real difference. Our response is truly a collaborative effort and we are adapting to new and challenging circumstances.

Speaking en route to Dadaab, the refugee camp 100 kilometers from the Kenya-Somalia border, our volunteer ShelterBox Response Team (SRT) member, Ingrid Criddle said aid from ShelterBox will be used to help the most vulnerable families in the region.

The refugee camps in Dadaab were originally designed to accommodate up to 90,000 refugees but according to the latest figures, there are now close to 400,000 people living in and around the three camps. OCHA states that as of July 24, there were 28,000 refugees residing outside the camps and awaiting registration.

Food, medicine, water and sanitation all remain a priority but with an estimated 1,500 people a day arriving at refugee camps the need for quality, emergency shelter is growing by the day. There is a huge need for every type of aid and ShelterBox is doing everything we can to support the relief efforts.

For more information, please feel free to visit www.shelterboxusa.org or contact us at info@shelterboxusa.org or 941-907-6036.