KIMUSU, Kenya — Hunger and thirst often prevent members of Kamakowa Baptist Church in Kimusu, Kenya from attending worship, pastor Tom Ogalo Ngoya said in an appeal for aid to the country where drought is a national disaster.
“It’s [disheartening] to watch your children beg for water and food,” said Ngoya after Kenya’s government declared the drought a national disaster in February. Members of the congregation “are often not in the church due to lack of food and water for them to drink and for the animals. Children are malnourished due to lack of food to eat. Adults are helpless because they cannot feed their family.”
Kenya, where 2.7 million people are termed “food insecure” by the United Nations, is included in large swaths of the continent suffering famine and food shortages, extending from the Horn of Africa south through sub-Saharan Africa and into South Africa, according to the U.N. and various humanitarian aid organizations.
The U.N. has described it as the largest humanitarian crisis since the creation of the U.N. in 1945.
“Famine is already a reality in parts of South Sudan,” U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres said on Feb. 22. “Unless we act now, it is only a matter of time until it affects other areas and other countries. We are already facing a tragedy; we must avoid it becoming a catastrophe.”
South Sudan, where the U.N. said more than 7.5 million people need assistance, is perhaps the hardest hit. As many as 100,000 people there are facing starvation, CBS’ 60 Minutes reported March 19.
Among the most dire U.N. statistics, 20 million people are facing famine or “at the tipping point” of famine in northeast Nigeria, South Sudan, Somalia and Yemen, including 1.4 million children at imminent risk of death from severe acute malnutrition in those four countries combined. In Ethiopia, 5.6 million people are food insecure. Civil wars and terrorism are to blame for the crises in some of the areas.
U.N. Emergency Relief Coordinator Stephen O’Brien appealed to the international community for help on March 10, reiterating Guterres’ plea.
“We stand at a critical point in history,” O’Brien told the UN Security Council. “It is right to sound the alarm early, not wait for pictures of emaciated dying children ….”
Micah Fries, pastor in Chattanooga, Tenn., met recipients of food aid in Lesotho during a trip to finalize the adoption of his son Haddon in January, just months before the mountainous country’s rainy season.
“Where we were doing the food distribution was an extremely impoverished area,” said Fries. “They were ecstatic. They were relieved.”
The drought is unknown to many Christians in America, Fries speculated, and pointed to the Gospel as the reason to help those in need.
“The drought that’s occurring or has been occurring for a couple of years across Africa is almost not on the radar at all for many, if not almost all, Americans,” Fries said, “and yet massive numbers of African people have been at risk because of it. For those of us who are pro-life, who care about the world and who care about the Gospel, it ought to matter to us.”
— by Diana Chandler | BP