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ELCA World Hunger

Kojo, James and Esther: Stories from the Horn of Africa

The Horn of Africa is experiencing its worst drought in decades. Through the Lutheran World Federation (LWF), ELCA World Hunger is working in the Kakuma region in Kenya alongside the local government to help build the capacity of families to respond to and withstand worsening droughts in the region. LWF initiatives include training in climate-smart farming practices, building and repairing water wells, managing the water supply, promoting hygiene and more.

The stories below reflect the impact of our work together to end hunger through ELCA World Hunger.

Kojo

Kojo

Kojo is a mother who lives in the Kakuma Refugee Camp in northwestern Kenya. The stresses of drought facing the Horn of Africa, compounded by the global food crisis, have had a big impact on Kojo and her three kids.

“We did not have fresh food, and at the time no one in the whole village practiced farming,” Kojo said. “It was difficult to get food. The children survived on one meal a day, and there wasn’t enough for everyone.”

Things improved for Kojo when she attended trainings, supported in part by ELCA World Hunger, to learn about “net-house” farming. This method of farming, employing net-enclosed structures, is cost-effective and allows Kojo to cultivate crops year-round, regardless of harsh climate conditions such as drought.

With the skills and tools to practice this method of agriculture, Kojo now has a sustainable source of food. “My life has really changed,” Kojo says.

I am able to provide food for my family, and I sell some of the produce to my neighbors. In turn I am able to buy things like soap and sugar. I feel better, my children are in good health, and I get some money from selling my farm products.

Equipping mothers such as Kojo to support their families goes even further than the fresh food on the table. Ensuring economic stability keeps kids in school, improves their health, relieves social pressure on those who have migrated to the area and prevents children from having to enter the labor market.

As the drought in Kenya and the rest of the Horn of Africa intensifies, the work ELCA World Hunger supports becomes all the more critical. Kojo is eager to expand her net-house farming for greater success as the effects of climate change deepen. “I hope we can plant more varieties of drought-resistant crops and establish another net house for even greater returns,” Kojo shares. “This way we will be able to generate more income for our families and uplift our community.”

The persistent drought is causing an uptick in migration in the Horn of Africa, and our partners such as LWF in Kakuma Refugee Camp are receiving more requests for services — especially education and agricultural training.

“I am really grateful for the support,” Kojo said. “This will go a long way in ensuring sustainability in food production in our communities.”

James and Esther

Esther

James and Esther work hard to shield their 12 children from the stinging effects of the current drought in the Horn of Africa, its worst in four decades. Every day, as the children play joyfully outside the family home, James and Esther wonder if they will be able to pull together one meal for the family.

“What do you do in an environment where everything has dried up?” James said.

“Part of our way of dealing with this biting hunger has been to survive on a single meal a day or supplement our diet with wild fruits. Sadly, the fruit trees that once lined the riverbanks have also dried up.”

Esther has noticed how mothers struggle to nourish their children: “Being a mother of 12, I know the pain of watching children cry for food and water. Thankfully, we now have a nearby well maintained by LWF.” The well has significantly eased the burden of obtaining water, so families have more to drink and cook with. “Women in this village are relieved that they no longer have to endure the five-hour walks to fetch water at a seasonal river,” Esther explained.

 

ELCA World Hunger at work in the Horn of Africa

Up until recently, we were celebrating improvements in the work to end hunger, but decades of progress have been undone by the lingering effects of COVID-19, the rise in violent conflict and the intensifying effects of climate change. The commitment to local, sustainable and adaptive farming is essential in reclaiming that progress.

ELCA World Hunger funds programs around the world that accompany people facing hunger and poverty. In more than 60 countries, including the United States, we walk alongside companions who are hard at work providing food, health care, agricultural training, safe water, education, livelihood support and more.

The Horn of Africa drought is only one example of the emerging and urgent needs facing ELCA World Hunger partners. We are well-positioned and ready to respond to these needs and many more as our partners and companions request financial support.

[New!] LifeLines Fall 2022

ELCA World Hunger and Lutheran Disaster Response have always been intricately connected, but in recent months global events have reminded us again just how vital the work of God through these shared ministries is for communities around the world.

The depth of the humanitarian and refugee crisis in Ukraine and across Europe will require a yearslong response. Incredible generosity to Lutheran Disaster Response in the wake of the Eastern European crisis and to ELCA World Hunger over the last 18 months has enabled us to temporarily expand our work in impacted regions. Because of our donors, we are better-equipped and better-resourced to support our global neighbors as they face great challenges.

As the world yearns for an end to this terrible conflict and its far-reaching consequences, in this issue of “LifeLines” we lift up stories of hope, of new opportunity and of God at work even amid tragedy and instability. We know that the effects of the war in Ukraine are far-reaching, which makes the relationships our church has with local communities around the world so important.

In this issue, you will read about a project of our companion church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in The Gambia. The church is working with women such as Anna, a caretaker of a cashew farm in The Gambia, whose story is shared in this issue, to create new opportunities for food security without reliable imports from Ukraine.

You’ll also read about Rosita in Guatemala, who at just 11 years old made the difficult journey with her father to try to migrate to the United States. In Tacoma, Wash., rapid gentrification is forcing longtime residents out of their neighborhood, but Peace Lutheran Church is seeking justice by enabling those neighbors to afford to stay or return.

We look back at the work made possible by gifts to Lutheran Disaster Response and the efforts of our companions and partners in the five years since the devastating 2017 hurricane season. And we look ahead to the work that remains in response to civil unrest, famine and drought in the Horn of Africa.

The world faces some incredibly complex challenges in the days ahead, but we know that God stirs up wellsprings of hope that inspire generosity and tireless efforts for peace, justice and a future filled with good things. We thank our donors for being a sign of hope through their support of ELCA World Hunger and Lutheran Disaster Response.