Archbishop of Canterbury calls for action, advocacy for Horn of Africa's drought victims

July 28, 2011

Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams has called for Anglicans to both donate to agencies attempting to help the victims of drought in the Horn of Africa and to "call upon their own governments to respond to the U.N. appeals -- to respond immediately and generously."

The United Nations says that an estimated 11.6 million people in Ethiopia, Djibouti, Kenya and Somalia are facing severe food shortages with rates of malnutrition and related deaths having reached alarming levels in many parts of the region. The drought is said to be the worst in 60 years. On July 21 the U.N. declared a state on famine in two areas of southern Somalia, the worst affected country, and asked for increased international aid.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said that roughly $300 million is needed in the next two months to provide an adequate response to famine-affected areas.

Williams' July 28 appeal lists faith-based aid agencies accepting donations, including Episcopal Relief & Development. The organization recently said that it will through its network of Anglican and Episcopal partners to support the work of local organizations such as Ukamba Christian Community Services in Kenya.

Food, including maize, beans and cooking oil, will be distributed to as many as 1,320 households in four areas over the next five months, Episcopal Relief & Development said. Orphans, widows and the elderly will receive priority during distribution. The program will also support community efforts to prepare the land for the next rainy season, with soil and water preservation measures such as terracing and sand dam construction.

Williams' statement follows.

"It is devastating to see once again the images of famine haunting our world, as parts of Somalia, Kenya and Ethiopia face one of the worst droughts for 60 years. Lives are being devastated -- more than 11 million people desperately need emergency relief, as well as long term solutions to support sustainable farming and prevent this crisis repeating itself.

Children and other vulnerable people are dying -- the urgency is intense to prevent this disaster reaching a point of catastrophe; to ensure that we do not fail our fellow human beings in the Horn of Africa. In the longer term progress is possible: I saw it myself last month in a drought-struck part of Kenya, where local communities were being taught how to adapt to climate change through a local church initiative.

In Britain we can be encouraged by the response from the Department for International Development, which is leading the way in the international community in responding rapidly and effectively. The British public is also giving generously through the DEC appeal. This needs to continue, saving the lives of the young and the weak right now -- and building for their future.
At the same time we must hold governments round the world to account in their response to this humanitarian disaster. There is absolutely no time for delay if lives are to be saved.

Crucially, the faith communities of the world, standing in solidarity with their sisters and brothers in the Horn of Africa, can call upon their own governments to respond to the U.N. appeals -- to respond immediately and generously."

II Corinthians 9:6-9

"The point is this: the one who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and the one who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each of you must give as you have made up your mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to provide you with every blessing in abundance, so that by always having enough of everything, you may share abundantly in every good work. As it is written, 'He scatters abroad, he gives to the poor; his righteousness endures for ever.'"

The web version with agency links is here.