Monday, September 19, 2011

The Ethiopian Famine - What Has Changed? | Numis Network Cares

TBuilding Sustainable Communities in the Horn of Africa

Last month, Numis Network began sponsoring children in need through World Vision International, a Christian relief and advocacy organization that is dedicated to helping children, families, and communities overcome poverty and injustice. One of the most inspiring things about working with World Vision is the fact that they are positioned to assist families and communities around the globe and that the contributions they receive make a real difference in the lives of the people they help.

Recently, World Vision began responding to the needs of displaced families in Dollo, Ethiopia. Dollo has become one of the primary gathering points for displaced people fleeing the drought and conflict of Somalia for the relative security of Ethiopia. Combined with the country's own internally displaced citizens who are equally affected by the region's drought, an estimated 2,000 people a day arrive in Dollo seeking better conditions.

The Horn of Africa has been experiencing its worst drought in more than 60 years, resulting from two consecutively poor rainy seasons. According to a spokeswoman from the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, the situation in the region is not likely to improve until the next rainy season in March of 2012. So far this year, more than half of the Dollo district's livestock has been lost and the child malnutrition rate is more than 30 percent.

World Vision has responded by helping to address the immediate needs of the displaced people by providing them with food, water, medical care, and temporary shelter. There are also plans to help support the local community through cash-for-work programs in water and sanitation projects which will allow individuals to earn much needed income while working to create better conditions within the region.

Unfortunately, World Vision faces an uphill battle; the instability of the current global economy has put tremendous pressure on the fund raising of all aid agencies and the thought of yet another famine in East Africa has many donors wondering if all of the previous efforts in the region have been futile. But few people realize the great progress that has been made over the course of the last 25 years.

During the height of the Ethiopian famine of the 1980's, World Vision was in Antsokia, the heart of one of the most stricken regions of the country where hundreds of thousands of people died. They brought food and water for more than 68,000 people in the area and remained there after the famine had ended to implement a long-term development program to help strengthen the local infrastructure. Roads, bridges, irrigation systems, and new farming techniques have bolstered food security in the area.

Today, Antsokia has become a model for World Vision's other programs in and around Ethiopia. While the food security situation in other parts of East Africa has reached catastrophic levels, Antsokia remains more resilient to the drought thanks to the efforts of World Vision, and people in that district are now more capable of helping others who are in greater need. The efforts to build sustainable communities in Ethiopia can have a compound effect on the region and help mitigate the problems neighboring districts are experiencing.

For an overview of World Vision International's work in Antsokia, watch the following video.

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