Horn of Africa Update

In our November 2011 blog post, we implored our readers to make urgent donations to the World Food Programme. Here at Vonigo we truly believe in creating a world in which we would like to live: that world does not include millions of people facing starvation. We have made a commitment to donate 1% of company profits and equity to charity, but in the face of this calamity in the Horn of Africa, we’ve decided to make donations exclusively to WFP for the foreseeable future. So now, an update.

The situation had been in the making for at least 18 months, yet few were able to intercede before a true crisis had been established. While the world community wishes that a political and infrastructural solution had been found, the quick response by WFP and the UN Food Programme, once alerted that they had been cleared to intervene, underscores the importance of this institution. WFP fortified the infrastructure of their relief efforts in northeastern Kenya, during the month of November, delivering personnel, communications centers, additional campsites and most importantly, medicines and food.

On November 29th, Cargill announced that it was making a 10,000 metric tonnes donation of rice to WFP efforts in the Horn of Africa. This was the largest single donation by any one company to a relief effort. Cargill sourced the rice from India, milled it, packaged it, and shipped it to Kenya. From there, the WFP raised enough money to cover the cost of ground transportation of the food into the camps. We would like to think that our donation was part of the money that got the food across the roads, but this is not about us.

This is about the families who watched their wealth disappear right in front of their eyes as a lack of rainfall killed crops and livestock. This is about the people who thought they could use their ingenuity to tough it out, to make it to the next big rain, only to realize that that the combination of war and arid conditions were working in concert against them. This is about the mother that walked for four days from Somalia, looking for food and shelter, losing three children in the process.

Today the Dadaab camps in northwestern Kenya are temporarily housing 460,000 people. Established in June 2011, at its peak of usage, over 1000 people a day were arriving from Somalia. The gift from Cargill was momentous, but only lasted a month. And with the disruptions from security issues that halted the disbursal of aid late last month, the situation continues to be dire. Additional rainfall and the presence of insurgents inside of the camps have prompted some families to return to their farms in Somalia. It is unclear why the war is following these people, in particular. What is certain is that the food crisis is far from over.

Any donation you can make at this time will have tremendous impact. We continue to believe that WFP is best positioned to receive assistance from political leaders to ensure the delivery of food to those who need it. Please make a donation today.