The Famine in East Africa Rages On and Community-Based Organizations Still Need Our Support

The ongoing famine and food crisis in Somalia, Kenya and Ethiopia has fallen out of the headlines. But it continues to have devastating effects on communities. The international community is still responding to the crisis, but resources are limited.  Most relief efforts are focusing on the regions of Somalia where the famine has resulted in a rising death toll and a refugee crisis.

Communities that are experiencing food crises in northern Kenyan are falling through the cracks of the international response.

In recent weeks, there have been several high profile kidnappings in Kenya, including the kidnapping of two aid workers from Dadaab Refugee Camp last week. Because of security concerns, several international aid organizations have begun evacuating their staff from drought affected communities. As a result, communities are even more at risk.

Times like these remind me why supporting community-based, grassroots organization is especially important. The staff and volunteers of community-based organizations often don’t have the option of evacuating. They regularly risk their own safety to help their fellow community members.

About six weeks ago, we gave a grant to Pastoralist Girls Initiative (PGI), a small, community-based organization working in drought affected communities in north eastern Kenya. The organization is distributing locally purchased food aid items to women- and girl-led households. PGI is also distributing additional food aid, mosquito nets and multivitamins to pregnant women in the project area.

To ensure that the drought does not lead girls to drop out of school, the organization is providing food aid to eight girls’ schools in the project area. PGI is also distributing emergency water rations to marginalized households in a village suffering from acute water shortages.

Finally, PGI is conducting a series of trainings with these same women and girls on how large-scale organizations like USAID and WFP manage their relief programs and how women from affected communities can voice their concerns on how the programs are being implemented.

If you would like to help support Pastoralist Girls Initiative, and other community-based organizations respond to the famine in East Africa, consider supporting AJWS’s East Africa Famine Relief Fund and learn about our new campaign Reverse Hunger: Ending the Global Food Crisis.

Below are some photos that PGI just sent me that show the amazing work PGI is doing to respond to the drought and famine.