Government of Canada
Through encounters like this one with Aysha, I have seen firsthand that all mothers have the same dreams for their children. We want them to be safe, happy and successful, and that hope doesn't change even if your circumstances are difficult. If anything, it may even become more important.
Climate change is certainly partly to blame for droughts that destroy crops, kill livestock and dry up rivers. However, the main cause of hunger crises is conflict. If the guns were silenced and humanitarian access were restored, it would save more lives in the short term than the return of the rains and crops.
Given the fragile nature of our planet's environment, there are lots of things to think about this Earth Day But this year, I'm thinking about how climate change -- and the droughts that are becoming more frequent and more severe as a result -- is affecting some of the most vulnerable communities in the world.
As the conflict in Yemen enters its third year, families' coping mechanisms are being stretched to their limit, risking a total collapse in resilience.Yemen is now the largest food security emergency in the world. The number of extremely poor and vulnerable people is skyrocketing.
Eric Lafforgue/Art in All of Us via Getty Images
It's now more than a month since famine was declared in parts of South Sudan. For children in the world's youngest country, the worsening food crisis comes at a time when they already face countless challenges on a daily basis. The scale of the crisis engulfing the country is staggering.
Here in Canada, most of us don't really think about water. Easy access to clean drinking water is part of our daily expectations. But in many parts of Kenya, where I recently visited to see some of Plan International Canada's programs, it's impossible not to think about water -- or rather, the severe lack of it.
As humanitarian partners scale up their response to provide urgent life-saving support to the most vulnerable children and families, we're also left fielding questions about how, once again, the situation could deteriorate to such a point that a formal declaration of famine was made.
"Famine" is a word that's rarely and cautiously used by the international aid community. It's reserved for describing the very gravest of human suffering. For the U.N. to declare "famine," a great many people must be dying of starvation. Hunger, even lots of it, isn't enough for an official declaration.
MONTREAL - The federal government says Canadians have donated $70 million to help fight the drought in Africa and that it will keep its promise to match that amount.International Co-operation Minister...
Journalists predicted that the rains would come in October, implying that this would end the crisis. But by then, the planting season will have passed. The rains, if they come, will likely bring flooding and disease. The famine may peak in early December, as we are preparing to celebrate our winter holidays.
The East African famine is a crisis that hits close to home for Warsame -- she was born in Mogadishu, Somalia and has family living there. "It could just have easily been me or my son starving over there," she said.
Beyond the urgency of filling empty stomachs is the legacy of torture and trauma that so many of these refugees have endured. The soul can become just as empty.
I've been to Africa. I've hung out with kids whose only possession is a ball made of leaves. And guess what -- they were grateful for it. I'll be keeping this in mind when I forgo loot bags at my son's upcoming birthday, and donate the money saved to filling up some bellies.
Since appeals first went out for donations to the east African famine, relief agencies have reported that approximately $16 million has come in from Canada. The figure for Britain, however, stands at £45 million in public donations. Why? It is our lack of organizational ability to combine our efforts that fails.