Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Famine in Somalia and What You Should Do

Two days ago, the United Nations finally announced that a famine was occurring in southern parts of Somalia. Although initially reluctant, the UN hoped that the declaration would galvanize the international community to respond to the crisis that is also affecting neighboring countries Kenya, Ethiopia and Djibouti. A famine is defined as:

  • More than 30% of children must be suffering from acute malnutrition
  • Two adults or four children must be dying of hunger each day for every group of 10,000 people
  • The population must have access to far below 2,100 kilocalories of food per day

The last time a famine was said to exist was in 1992 and it was in Somalia as well. The country has struggled with acute poverty, conflict and drought ever since. The capital, Mogadishu, was once evacuated because of civil war but now thousands from the southern regions are retreating in a desperate attempt to receive some sort of aid. Relief efforts have been difficult because the country has become a stronghold to terrorist organizations who either bribe agencies or subject them to taxation for the goods they bring. It's all just really, really awful.

When disasters occur in places where structural poverty is prevalent, it is almost impossible for us to not reflect on our relative privilege. How can you not feel hopeless when already downtrodden people are forced to endure to worst of tragedies? The possibility of that hopelessness being valid is even more troublesome. 

I always find that what little you can to help out always makes me feel better. Your donation to Doctors Without Borders may be modest but hope can only exist with effort. You only bask in pessimism if you sit back, read depressing news stories and bitch about how terrible the world is. Don't get me wrong, I am notorious for being vocal with my complaints about various injustices the disenfranchised face. Yet, we should not allow our cynicism to take the place of our humanitarianism. 

So please, I know the economy is still shitty and we all want to enjoy our summer. But please, considering donating to an organization- a reputable one-that is on the frontline trying to save lives. Here is a list of some via

World Food Programme You can donate online to or you can make a $10 donation to the World Food Programme by texting AID to 27722.Charges will appear on your wireless bill, or be deducted from your prepaid balance. All purchases must be authorized by account holder. Message and Data Rates May Apply. Full & Privacy Policy

Doctors Without Borders

International Rescue Committee (IRC)

International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)


World Vision's Horn of Africa response


Save the Children You can donate online or text SURVIVE to 20222 to donate $10 (Standard message rates apply). Legal


Oxfam America

Also, if you want to evaluate the effectiveness of the charity you donate to, Charity Navigator is a great resource. 

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