Is the Horn of Africa a bottomless pit? Answer 5 critical questions

Hunger in Africa, you’ve heard it before. So if the Red Cross then sounds the alarm because 14 million people in the Horn of Africa are hungry, it could raise questions. Does it make sense to donate? Why do we keep putting money in a ‘bottomless pit’? And why do the population never solve their problems themselves? Five often heard critical questions under the microscope.

The Horn of Africa has been struggling with hunger and drought for some time. Is not that a bottomless pit?

In fact, the Horn of Africa is unfortunately more often hit by disasters. But this crisis is unusual. The population is facing several disasters at the same time, including drought, floods, grasshopper plagues and huge food prices. Moreover, these countries have not yet recovered from the hard blows of the corona pandemic.

More than 14 million people are now hungry, including 5.5 million children. The Red Cross therefore offers emergency aid.

But we are also rolling up our sleeves for long-term solutions so that the population becomes more resilient to climate change and other disasters. We focus on ‘nature-based solutions’, ie solutions that look at how nature can help the population prevent new disasters. This includes planting trees and restoring mangrove forests to protect against floods. This gives the population hope for a better future, which means that this gap is not bottomless.

2. Kenya, Somalia and Ethiopia have had problems for a long time and they are getting help again and again. Why do people not solve their problems themselves?

The challenges are too great to handle alone. A large part of the population consists of nomadic families who move around with their livestock. Moreover, climate change, one of the main causes of this crisis, is a problem for all of us. The most vulnerable people live in countries that contribute the least to climate change, while at the same time being most vulnerable to the effects. The least we can do is help people in East Africa cope better with climate-related disasters, such as droughts.

Somali families receive packed lunches.

3. How much of the money raised actually ends up with the people who need it? Is not there too much hanging on the bow?

The Red Cross is the largest voluntary organization in the world with branches in 192 countries. So many of the relief workers in the Horn of Africa do their work voluntarily because they want to help other people in need. All the money we raise for this campaign goes to the Red Cross in Kenya, Somalia and Ethiopia. Our cash flows never go through governments. The local Red Cross organizations make an inventory of what help is needed and keep purchases of goods in their own hands. In this way, we ensure that we can spend more than three quarters of the donations on concrete assistance.

Somali families share their own scarce drinking water with their pets.

4. Emergency aid is useless, should not there be a long-term solution?

Sure! The first need for hunger is emergency aid, but we also work with long-term emergency aid. In this way, we ensure that people in the Horn of Africa are more resilient to climate-related disasters. For example, we are working to make greener and save water to ensure that people can better survive droughts. We also build dams that hold on to the rainwater for a longer period of time. By planting trees and shrubs, we ensure that the soil better retains moisture and does not erode. In this way, the area becomes more and more resistant to drought and floods.

5. In the Netherlands there is also hunger and poverty, it is getting busier in the food bank. Why should we donate to hunger in Africa?

Of course, that we help in Africa does not mean that we forget people in the Netherlands. We also stand up for people in need in the Netherlands. For example, we have various projects for people who have difficulty paying for their meals.

Yet we must not forget the people of the Horn of Africa. This crisis is heartbreaking, people are starving to death. And if we do not act now, the consequences of this drought for the population will soon be worse than in 2011. At that time, 260,000 people died in Somalia alone (source: UN). We must not let this happen again. That is why we are helping the Horn of Africa.

Help Horn of Africa!

In the Horn of Africa, 14 million people do not have enough to eat. The Red Cross helps with solutions in the short and long term. Do you want to help too? donate further Giro 6251 (IBAN: NL58INGB0000006251

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