By: Jacqueline Koster, Regional Program Manager for World Renew
I have been struggling this last month.
My role as Regional Program Manager for World Renew takes me to places all over the world. On this trip, I am in Southern Africa and what I see has hurt my heart.
It is not just the food security challenges that I know are on the horizon for countries being hit by serious drought as a result of El Niño, but it is also the challenge that my peers and I face about how to communicate what is happening.
For several months now already, I have been part of intensive planning with World Renew’s Southern Africa ministry team. We looked at the dismal weather forecasts and calculated the dire food situation that would occur should the rains ultimately fail.
Since those meetings, we have not had enough rain. The ‘last chance’ rain date for farmers in Malawi and Mozambique has come and gone. We know what is ahead and it will be truly awful.
Millions upon millions of people will soon find themselves without food.
Millions upon millions of people will soon find themselves without food. This includes families who normally have enough to eat but suddenly find themselves without. It will also include those who struggle to get enough food for their families even in a typical year. With this year’s lack of rains, their situation will be impossible.
World Renew’s staff in Southern Africa are already having to deal with this situation in their daily work. As they visit communities, they meet people who are already experiencing hunger. We know, however, that the real impact won’t be felt until May or June. That is when all food supplies will have run out and no new crops can be harvested.
That will be the time that the news media begins to take interest in this disaster. It is the time that a photographer can capture an image of a truly starving child, and when the number of deaths will be high enough to warrant a story. While this will garner interest and support, it will be too late for many people.
Within the disaster response community, we call this “a slow moving disaster.” While tornadoes, earthquakes and tsunamis cause immediate devastation that can capture the world’s attention, a slow-moving disaster takes months to evolve. We as World Renew staff can see what is coming six months from now, but World Renew can do very little until the public becomes aware of it and donations begin to come in.
For now, World Renew is doing what it can with limited resources. In Ethiopia, we are providing food to 28,800 drought affected people for four months. In Zambia we have been providing nine months of food and other assistance to 15,000 people. Much, much more will be needed in the months ahead.
Please prayerfully consider supporting World Renew’s El Niño Food Crisis response with your prayers and financial gifts