Hunger and Thirst Often Keep Kenyans from Attending Church, Pastor Says In Appeal for Aid

Josephine, a starving South Sudanese girl who weighed only 24 pounds at 7 years old, is among the millions facing famine and food shortages across large portions of the African continent.
CBS News 60 minutes screen capture

Hunger and thirst often prevent members of Kamakowa Baptist Church in Kimusu, Kenya from attending worship, pastor Tom Ogalo Ngoya told Baptist Press in an appeal for aid to the country where drought is a national disaster.

“It’s [disheartening] to watch your children beg for water and food,” Ngoya emailed BP after Kenya’s government declared the drought a national disaster in February. Members of the congregation “are often not in the church due to lack of food and water for them to drink and for the animals. Children are malnourished due to lack of food to eat. Adults are helpless because they cannot feed their family.”

Kenya, where 2.7 million people are termed “food insecure” by the United Nations, is included in large swaths of the continent suffering famine and food shortages, extending from the Horn of Africa south through sub-Saharan Africa and into South Africa, according to the U.N. and various humanitarian aid organizations including Baptist Global Response (BGR).

The U.N. has described it as the largest humanitarian crisis since the creation of the U.N. in 1945.

“Famine is already a reality in parts of South Sudan,” U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres said on Feb. 22. “Unless we act now, it is only a matter of time until it affects other areas and other countries. We are already facing a tragedy; we must avoid it becoming a catastrophe.”

South Sudan, where the U.N. said more than 7.5 million people need assistance, is perhaps the hardest hit. As many as 100,000 people there are facing starvation, CBS’ 60 Minutes reported March 19.

Among the most dire U.N. statistics, 20 million people are facing famine or “at the tipping point” of famine in northeast Nigeria, South Sudan, Somalia and Yemen, including 1.4 million children at imminent risk of death from severe acute malnutrition in those four countries combined. In Ethiopia, 5.6 million people are food insecure. Civil wars and terrorism are to blame for the crises in some of the areas.

U.N. Emergency Relief Coordinator Stephen O’Brien appealed to the international community for help on March 10, reiterating Guterres’ plea.

“We stand at a critical point in history,” O’Brien told the UN Security Council. “It is right to sound the alarm early, not wait for pictures of emaciated dying children ….”

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SOURCE: Baptist Press
Diana Chandler