United Nations Definition of Famine: A famine can be declared only when certain measures of mortality, malnutrition and hunger are met. They are: at least 20 per cent of households in an area face extreme food shortages with a limited ability to cope; acute malnutrition rates exceed 30 per cent; and the death rate exceeds two persons per day per 10,000 persons.
Famine has been declared in parts of South Sudan. The United Church of Christ's initial response of $25,000 from One Great Hour of Sharing and disaster designated funds is supporting famine relief targeting nearly 200,000 severely affected people.
These contributions from the UCC join those of other members of the global ecumenical community coordinating assistance through the ACT Alliance, which issued an appeal March 23 for nearly $9.2 million. Partners will supply food, water, sanitation and handwashing, non-food items, emergency health, protection and psychosocial support, seeds and tools.
In addition to the contributions described above, $15,000 in OGHS and disaster designated funds from the UCC will help IMA World Health dispatch mobile and prefabricated clinics to remote communities in need of supplemental nutritional interventions and basic medical care, and will support other critical feeding, nutrition and medical care.
Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya are suffering drought emergencies, resulting in thirst and a hunger crisis bordering on famine in some areas. The UCC has provided a total of $45,000 for relief efforts in the three countries.
Across South Sudan, more than 3 million people have been forced to flee their homes and nearly 7.5 million people need humanitarian assistance and protection, as a result of multiple and deepening crises, including conflict, inter-communal violence, economic decline, disease, and climatic shocks, which have led to displacement, distress, destitution and death.
Food insecurity has reached the crisis stage across broad swaths of South Sudan, with actual famine in some areas, mostly among Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) who are dispersed and the host communities already affected by the ongoing conflict.
"This issue spans all our program sector areas – food sustainability, IDPs, and famine disaster," said Mary Schaller Blaufuss, who leads the UCC's Global Sharing of Resources Team.
All this is in addition to One Great Hour of Sharing's ongoing support to the Sudan/Darfur "Tents of Hope" work with internally displaced persons - $10,000 this year.
Photo credit: IMA World Health