The drought in the Horn of Africa – the worst in 60 years – has had devastating consequences. It has undermined agriculture and caused famine, impacting 12 million people. The political chaos in the country of Somalia has complicated global action to respond to the famine and provide desperately-needed humanitarian relief. Refugees pouring into Kenya and Ethiopia from Somalia have complicated an already severe health and safety crisis in the two host countries. The city of Dadaab, Kenya, originally established to handle 90,000 refugees from Somalia, now has about 400,000 people. Right now, Dadaab is the fourth largest city in Kenya, and new camps are emerging each week..
SAI’s client, Nazarene Compassionate Ministries, INC. (NCMI), is identifying ways to respond to this current crisis. Cosmos Mutowa, Regional Coordinator for Nazarene Compassionate Ministries in Africa, has challenged the denomination to raise $500,000 to initiate and be part of a global effort to respond to this crisis by providing water, sanitation, food, shelter, and services to protect women and children. The famine requires an immediate response and swift action. However, Nazarene Compassionate Ministries is committed to building capacity in its congregations and NGOs to address the systemic issues around health, education and safety. SAI, in our role as Global Resource Coordinators for NCMI, was asked to help assess the current capacity and opportunities for NCM-Africa to develop a response to this famine and drought.
Because of SAI’s current work in Kenya with the Kenya Youth Employment and Empowerment Initiative, we began looking at Kenyan resources and opportunities for collaboration in response to the famine. We conducted a site visit to Garissa and then to Dadaab on August 4-6, 2011. During these visits, SAI met with Kenya Red Cross, Food for the Hungry, UNICEF, UNHCR, Samaritan’s Purse, CARE International, and OXFAM to assess what current efforts are focusing on, where the greatest need is, and what contribution our team could make to be most effective. Based on these meetings, SAI is currently working with NCMI to finalize an action plan. Part of this plan will include both addressing the current needs caused by the crisis as well as building long-term capacity to increase longer-term resilience among vulnerable populations.