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Lutheran Disaster Response

Mauritania: Phone Calls, Tents Raised, Families Find Refuge

Refugees join LWF staff to set up tents for newcomers in Mbere camp in southeastern Mauritania. © LWF/Thomas Ekelund


It’s hot. It’s late. It’s not even a work day. But the phone rings and it’s time to move.

That’s the storyline in a recent Lutheran World Federation post about the situation at the LWF-managed refugee camp Mbere in southeastern Mauritania. The backdrop is the current crisis going on in the Sahel region of Western Africa where drought is threatening to turn into famine as daily temperatures top off at over 120-degrees Fahrenheit and conflict continues to rage in Mali. It’s so hot generators can’t be turned on.

The phone call is to inform the staff that 25 families from Mali are expected to arrive at the camp in 5 hours. So even though its the start of the weekend the staff rallies together to get the tents set up, working with volunteers within the camp who offer to help. It’s a bit like organized chaos but when the families finally get there, they have tents and water is quickly on its way.

Reading through it seems miraculous that all of the pieces fit together so well right when they need to, to imagine the people who dedicate themselves to this work and those who volunteer to help. It is nothing short than the movement of the Holy Spirit in the midst of the highs and lows of life. To be able to name this as an example of how our church engages the world on behalf of the Gospel is also a humbling joy.

It is God’s work being done with our hands as even from the desert floor we can engage in making life anew.

Read about this day in the life in the LWF article: Tents Mushroom in the Mauritanian Desert.

Also, consider giving to ELCA Disaster Response for West Africa Sahel so that we can continue to meet the needs of those who thirst, hunger and seek shelter.

Mauritania: LWF’s New Approach to Food Shortage, the Freedom to Choose

Mauritania and surrounding countries are continuing to experience growing drought. According to the UN Development Programme more than 15 million people in the Sahel region in Western Africa risk undernourishment. It also notes that though there have been many positive improvements in the area still more than a quarter of the population are still food insecure.

To help address this situation in a manner that best meets the needs and respectes the dignity of the people being served, the LWF has implemented a new approach. They, working with the World Food Programme, are providing 5,000 vulnerable families with cash to purchase food over a six-month period of time. Though for some this may seem like a risky venture the following quote from an LWF article about the situation makes a great point:

Mohammed Jiddou works for the WFP [World Food Programme] in Nouakchott and is responsible for the cash transfer project. He says the implementation of the project is faster than distributing food from abroad, which takes at least three to four months between the control and distribution to beneficiaries.

The program allows families most at risk the freedom to choose what foods they need. It also stimulates the local economy by guaranteeing the food is bought locally. And as can been seen from the quote above, in the midst of a disaster time is of the essence and this program gets food to people potentially months sooner than traditional methods.

To learn more about the program, how it run and how it is received, read the full LWF article: Freedom to Choose Food During Shortages

Gifts to ELCA International Disaster Response allow the church to respond globally in times of need. Donate now.

West Africa: Update from LWF Amidst Worsening Drought

Mali and surrounding countries. Credit: reliefweb

According to the World Bank more than 17 million people in the West Africa Sahel region are now facing food shortages and possible starvation. The most affected countries are Mauritania, Niger, Mali, Chad and Burkina Faso where poor rainfall and food shortages have driven the prices of staple foods beyond the ability of the poorer members of society to afford.

Along with the current situation of drought and food insecurity there has been continued violence in Mali and Niger that has forced 300,000 people from their homes. Many of these are finding refuge in neighboring countries. Almost 160,000 Malian refugees have been registered in neighboring countries. Of these over 61,000 are in Mauritania at the Lutheran World Federation-managed camp of Mbéré.

The need in the region is still great and it is believed the food security crisis will not peak until late summer/early fall. As we gather in worship and within our individual prayer life, please continue to lift up the people of this region and those who work on their behalf. In the midst of conflict and drought may God grant them strength, peace and lead them into safety.

To learn more see the links below and to give see the link at the bottom of this post.

World Bank: Drought Worsens in the Sahel Region | LWF: 16th Sitrep on the Crisis in the Sahel
Gifts to ELCA International Disaster Response allow the church to respond globally in times of need. Donate now.