A global hunger crisis has grown so severe that a group of international relief agencies, including Connecticut-based Save the Children, are doing something they’ve never done before. They’re raising money together.
Carolyn Miles, CEO of Fairfield-based Save the Children, is in the Turkana region of western Kenya, where an extended drought is destroying the land and starving the people.
“Many of the people are pastoralists, which means they have animals and they move from place to place so their animals can eat. All their livelihood is dependent on animals. With this really horrific drought is that all the animals are dying and then families are left with no way to support themselves, particularly to support their children.”
Miles says more than 20 million people are on the verge of starvation in South Sudan, Nigeria, Yemen, Somalia and neighboring countries like Kenya. It’s due to draughts, internal conflicts and outbreaks of cholera in these areas. Over one million of the people at risk are children.
“I met some of these children and without medical intervention, without getting to a stabilization center, which is one of the things that Save the Children and our partners are doing for this crisis, if they don’t get there, these, these kids will die.”
Save the Children is one of eight U.S.-based organizations that have formed the Global Emergency Response Coalition. Together they will raise money for a fund created specifically to address the hunger crisis.
Miles says aid groups are in a good position to prevent people from dying of starvation, but they need to move quickly. She also says technology has transformed how they can help people at risk because now they can store money on cell phones. Miles says they applied this system in Somalia.
“We were doing that through little inexpensive cellphones, where people were able to get cash like a $50 amount that they could use for over several months to buy the food that they need by going to the merchant and transferring that cash to their cellphone.”
The Global Emergency Response Coalition began its fundraising campaign this week and it will last until July 28.