The Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) is scaling up emergency operations to deliver food assistance and water to vulnerable communities on the verge of starvation in the Horn of Africa, including parts of Kenya, Somalia, Ethiopia, and Uganda.
The Horn of Africa has been severely hit by the deteriorating socioeconomic conditions and trade interruptions caused by the Ukraine war. Ukraine and Russia supply 90 percent of the region’s grain, and the conflict has increased food, fuel, and fertilizer prices while decreasing wheat supplies. Before the conflict, Ukraine supplied about 6 million tons of agricultural goods to the area, and currently, only 15 percent of the products are being exported due to the Black Sea port blockades. According to the United Nations, Africa is also experiencing one of the worst droughts in more than 40 years. Reports indicate nearly 20 million Africans and 49 million people in other regions of the world suffer from extreme food insecurity and rising malnutrition.
“Every day, millions of women, children, and individual people go hungry in Africa and more than 40 nations,” ADRA International president Michael Kruger said. “As the global humanitarian arm of the Adventist Church, ADRA is committed to advocating for and supporting programs to reduce hunger and restore the dignity of less fortunate families and communities.
“We join other nonprofit organizations and private and public institutions to call attention to the life-threatening famine crisis,” Kruger added. “We encourage global leaders to find solutions for unlocking food exports and preventing climate-induced emergencies that cause food insecurity and water shortages."
ADRA International is working globally to aid millions of people affected by the food crisis. It is developing food security projects in collaboration with trusted partners and communities to prevent famine and build resilience, including drought-resistant farming practices; seeds, supplies, and other resources; and school lunch programs to feed children and keep them in school. It also includes household and community gardens; female farmer and cooperative group investment; maternal and early childhood nutrition education; and farmer field schools to improve methods and marketing.
In Africa, the global humanitarian agency has launched emergency management plans to provide emergency food stations and essential services such as health and nutrition, livestock feeding, veterinary services, and water, sanitation, and hygiene services to some of the poorest regions. ADRA prioritizes response in areas where malaria is rising and hundreds of thousands of children and breastfeeding women are acutely malnourished and require immediate treatment, including northern Kenya, central Somalia, and Karamoja, Uganda.
“Families are taking desperate measures to survive, with thousands leaving their homes in search of food, and water for drinking, cooking, and pasture,” ADRA International director of emergency management Mario Oliveira said, “and that increases the risk of intercommunal conflict and exposes women and children to gender-based violence, sexual exploitation, and abuse. All ADRA offices in the region are actively addressing the critical situation at the national and local level to protect families.
“We have a long-standing presence, have been serving the region for more than 30 years, and have already launched several food security programs, including cash assistance, and drought mitigation projects to benefit those in need,” Oliveira said.
Many drought-affected communities are also struggling to cope with the cumulative effects of other disturbances, such as floods, locust outbreaks, and the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on livelihoods and revenue sources. According to the UN Office for Humanitarian Affairs, hunger is causing acute malnutrition in around 8 million African children and restricting access to education. More than 2,000 schools have shut down in Ethiopia alone.
“Almost 2 million children are out of school, with nearly half of them being girls. As a result, ADRA has established school feeding programs to reduce dropout rates and enhance nutrition,” ADRA Africa executive director Peter Delhove explained. “To avoid the spread of waterborne illnesses among students and families, it has established water trucking stations in several villages for hygiene and sanitation.”
Delhove added that ADRA has also created health programs and facilities to serve displaced families and affected communities, launched agricultural initiatives to increase food access, and continues to collaborate with trusted partners and local authorities to find new solutions to the problem. “ADRA is thankful to its allies, donors, and church volunteers for their vital and continuous support, which allows us to carry out our mission of preventing food shortages to save lives.”