Courtesy, Hellen Keller International
Given the number of African famines and droughts I've seen as an aid worker over the last three decades, I can see how people could become apathetic over time, but I don't think it's fair, nor accurate, to dismiss this latest crisis in a "here we go again" kind of way.
A year ago today famine was declared in the Horn of Africa. The worst drought in 60 years put millions of lives at risk. Canadians stepped up and donated $70 million, which the government matched. One year later, while the famine has been declared over, eight million people in Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia still need emergency assistance.
For months now, all of us at the Humanitarian Coalition have been paying very close attention to the situation in the Sahel region of West Africa, where drought and food shortages are affecting an ever-growing number of families and communities. Today, more than 18.4 million people are facing severe hunger, including a million children who are at risk of acute malnutrition.
Hunger in the Sahel region is increasing at a dangerous pace. While a full-blown crisis attracts more attention with vivid images and stories of severely malnourished children, it is by acting before the situation reaches that point that more lives can be saved.
The images coming from across the Horn of Africa are bleak: skeleton-thin babies being held by their underfed mothers, crying for food in refugee camps, wasting away in front of the lens. The drought...
The celebrities' call to action on the famine in Somalia is welcome, but the bottom line is that these countries need sustained economic growth. Such strategies are not without risks, however. Businesses must not be permitted to abuse human rights. Foreign investment must not undermine sovereignty.