08/17/2011 12:22 EDT | Updated 10/17/2011 05:12 EDT

Canada dividing African famine aid money between UN, aid organizations

OTTAWA - The federal government has given $8.5 million to a humanitarian coalition for famine relief efforts in Africa.

It's part of the $50 million Ottawa announced last month to help millions of people affected by a severe drought in East Africa.

Just over half of the total money will go to the UN's World Food Programme, with the rest going to aid organizations.

The $8.5 million will go to three of the coalition's five members — CARE Canada, Oxfam Canada and Plan Canada.

The coalition has raised another $6.5 million through direct donations from Canadians, and says the money is urgently needed.