It’s crisis time in the Horn of Africa. What can you do about it?

Bono says, “The famine is really the wake-up call for all of us.”

It should be, but is it?

He says, “We know exactly what to do with droughts. You can blame droughts on God, but famines are man-made. We know exactly what to do and this shouldn’t be happening.”

People are ensuring that the people in the Horn of Africa are suffering, are dying. We are all complicit.

K’naan says, “We have to find some way to globalize our humanity.” and “Because of the past… I think people have created a psychological fence around their hearts where Somalia is concerned.”


More than 12 million people over several countries in the Horn of Africa are suffering beyond what anyone should ever suffer. This is unlike anything they have seen in decades. It is not just another crisis we can turn our backs on.

Children are starving. They are fighting for their lives. What is more important than the health of children. Yes, the statistics are startling. 600,000 children are on the brink of starvation. 30,000 have died this summer. Yes, this is overwhelming to comprehend.

I understand the psychology behind why people are able to tune out the statistics, it is simply too staggering.

Joseph Stalin said, “The death of one person is a tragedy; the death of millions is a statistic.” He would know.

Learn more about Anderson Cooper’s reporting on the famine crisis in Somalia.

But, seriously? Why are the London riots being paid more attention? Why is the story, “Why are moms dressing like their teen daughters?” one of the top headlines?

Make a conscious choice to not turn away, choose to listen even when it is horrific (and it will be), and try to realize what is going on and to do something about it.

The call to action:

  • Look.
  • Listen.
  • Read.
  • Pressure.
  • Support.
    • ONE – actively addressing the crisis in two ways: by raising awareness of the famine and needed response through social and traditional media, and by pressing world leaders to step up and quickly fill the $1 billion funding gap for emergency assistance.
    • UNICEF – saving lives by stepping up their emergency response to the crisis in Somalia and the rest of the Horn of Africa. So far, the agency has brought in enough supplies to feed 65,000 children in southern Somalia. An estimated $177 million will be needed to reach all Somali children in need over the next six months.
    • Mercy Corps – teams in Ethiopia, Somalia and Kenya are responding, by distributing food and water and expanding critical relief efforts. Mercy Corps is on the ground helping more than one million people in the region survive, and are ramping up to help even more.
    • Doctors Without Borders – Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is responding to medical needs, including treatment of around 10,000 malnourished people in and around the Dadaab camp.
    • See a full list of organizations on the ground and saving lives.
  • Share. That psychology I was talking about? People are not motivated by statistics as they are by personal experience. Sharing information with people in a meaningful way can create greater change.

Help save the life of this child….

Somalia, July 2011photo credit: IHH Humanitarian Relief Foundation/TURKEY

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It’s crisis time in the Horn of Africa. What can you do about it? — 14 Comments

  1. Hello Brenna,

    This story goes far beyond the TV ads for starving children in Africa. It tears at the heartstrings of emotion. Thank you for bringing this added information to my attention.

  2. Here a few really harsh facts for every boat load of aid sent 50% of it or more is stolen by the military. The leaders of which get massive bribes just to let the stuff through.

    This was even worse in Ethiopia a few years ago roughly 10% got through and much was sold to make the military rebels rich.

    The problem isn’t just a birth issue as adults are dying faster than flies of aids and malnutrition those that don’t get shot, raped and otherwise abused. This leaves many kids (who’s life expectancy is pretty much on knife edge anyway) fending for themselves.

    It’s a fact that this part of the world is corrupt but it never seems to learn from it’s mistakes so they continue to abuse the least able to look after themselves women and children.

    Unlike Iraq, Afghanistan and other countries which have massive mineral wealth the rest of the world doesn’t really give a rats so they are left to live on hand outs and wars continue.

    The Libyans suffer a bit and the world is in uproar (nothing to do with OIL of course) and the Yanks get their photo opportunities in Haiti and then piss off home and leave the place devastated. What happened to the Yanks in Haiti?

    We shouldn’t be suprized really look at New Orleans how long ago was Katrina well let me tell 5 years is long enough to invade a country and get involved in God only knows how many conflicts but rebuild New Orleans isn’t exactly a priority it seems.

    The richest country in the Western World (sorry scrub that) can’t even sort out it’s own people so why would they give a shit about a bunch of Africans.

    Yeh sure they will hold a concert and make a few noises but Bono and the likely suspects probably spend more on hair products and fashion than they donates to charity.

    I can still remember Geldof saying ” gives us you F’king money” during Live Aid. It’s up to every individual to give but not money only but pressure on these countries to get their house in order we stop genocide in Iraq (ok a bit late for a lot of people) but in parts of Africa that goes on every day as a way of life.

    They are all a bunch of hypocrite’s it’s a classic case of not in my back yard but well donate a few quid just to look like we care!

    Naturally we should keep on helping but the main thing is to help them INSIDE they own country otherwise it will never end.
    Luke recently posted..Get a degree fast

    • Yes, there are systemic problems with the government, or lack thereof, in Somalia in particular as is often the case where there is constant political and ethnic unrest. Yes, if we are not careful how the money (or supplies) are sent, there will be corruption. There still may be problems even supporting organizations already doing the work there, but any donations that go through these channels will be used to actually help children, women, men in this horrific crisis.

      The West’s relationship to Africa and Africa’s relationship to itself is the subject of countless sociological and historical theory and research. It is complicated. It is messy. It is.

      That does not excuse anyone standing by in a time like this.

      Of course we need to do better within our own country. Of course, we could support our own citizens better. That doesn’t mean that what happens half-way across the world should not shake us to our very core and have us stand up and DO something.

      I can’t speak to anyone that may or may not be a hypocrite, but I will agree that the most effective aid (in the case of any international tragedy) will be to help the people in crisis help themselves. There must be grassroots action and there must be support from and through the local people. There are wonderful organizations doing just that that need our help now.

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