There are three criteria for a famine to be declared by the United Nations:
- At least 20 per cent of households must face extreme food shortages with limited ability to cope.
- More than 30 per cent of the population must be suffering from acute malnutriton.
- Two adults or four children dying of hunger each day for every group of 10,000 people.
Donations are only "trickling in" so far, and to be honest, I get it. Look at that list: at least two of the four issues (war and neglect) seem preventable. And doesn't it seem as though the Horn of Africa is always hungry or at war or both? I just finished reading the memoir of a Somali woman yesterday (Nomad -- have a look!) and continue to be perplexed by the complexities created when religions and cultures clash.
But here we are again, giving in spite of misgivings. Because the people most directly affected by famine -- children, women, the vulnerable -- are definitely not those responsible for war or neglect. Or food prices. Or rainfall for that matter.
As a mom, I can't imagine the horror of not being able to feed my children. (I shudder to admit what I fed them just today.) And having lived through a brief heat wave with no air conditioning this week, I would be the first to admit to having utterly neglected my garden. I haven't visited Somalia, but I've been to Ethiopia and other places in that region. I've walked through dusty fields and talked to frustrated farmers there. I know that World Vision has long been at work in the Horn and is highly skilled in humanitarian emergency situations.
So even though getting the aid dollars through is an enormous challenge, and even though I might have to give again and again, I'm willing to contribute. The money is going to famine relief through World Vision and I applaud the Canadian government for matching my donation. (Although admittedly, when Bev Oda announces a match, does she perhaps really mean they won't match it? Hmmm...have to call my friends at Kairos on that one...)
(Thanks to the CBC website for the photos.)