American Jewish World Service Launches East Africa Crisis Fund

Fund will aid communities in South Sudan, Kenya and Uganda hit hardest by drought, malnutrition and conflict

NEW YORK, NY – East Africa is currently experiencing its largest humanitarian crisis since 1945. A crippling two-year drought, exacerbated by climate change and conflict, has placed millions of people at risk of starvation. South Sudan declared famine in mid-February and several counties in Kenya are already facing extreme malnutrition. Refugees from the conflict in South Sudan have entered Uganda in droves, adding pressure to an already vulnerable border region.

American Jewish World Service (AJWS), the leading Jewish organization working to promote human rights and end poverty in the developing world, has launched an East Africa Crisis Fund to respond to the crises in South Sudan, Kenya and Uganda. AJWS is providing immediate and long-term support to communities hit hardest by drought, malnutrition and conflict in the three nations. The fund will help communities access food, clean water, school lunches, support for refugees and peacebuilding programs to mitigate unrest in the region.

“Children are facing food and water shortages, livestock are rapidly dying and rising food prices have caused families to skip meals and sell their belongings,” said Robert Bank, President and CEO of AJWS. “Our Humanitarian Response team conducted interviews with key actors to assess need and target our response. Now we’re ramping up direct support for severely impacted communities.”

Last year, the short rainy seasons that are critical to food production in the region failed to materialize. The drought was particularly acute across coastal Kenya, central and southwestern Uganda and Southeastern South Sudan. Some areas have registered only a third of their usual rain levels and in some places, it hasn’t rained for over two years.

AJWS responded to the drought crisis in East Africa in 2011. However, reports suggest that the current crisis will prove to be far worse. Multiple years of drought and food insecurity have exhausted people’s capacity to cope with shortages, and chronic conflict in South Sudan and other countries in the area has led to unprecedented refugee flows and migration. What’s more, the drought has killed grazing lands, which has led to tensions between livestock owners and farmers, particularly in Kenya.

“AJWS has a longstanding commitment to disaster response and recovery,” said Bank. “We are urging our supporters to join us in helping the people of East Africa survive this crisis and rebuild their lives with dignity. Working together, we can save millions of lives.”

Bank continued, “Jewish tradition teaches that saving one life is equal to saving the world. As Jews and global citizens, we are obligated to care for people whose lives are at stake, including people who live far beyond our own borders.”

For more information on the East Africa Crisis Fund, visit




About American Jewish World Service

American Jewish World Service (AJWS) is the leading Jewish organization working to promote human rights and end poverty in the developing world. AJWS promotes civil and political rights; advances sexual health and rights; defends access to food, land and water; and aids communities in the aftermath of disasters. AJWS pursues lasting change by supporting grassroots and global human rights organizations in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean and by advocating for U.S. and international policies for justice and equality worldwide. Learn more at

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