Humanitarian Crises in Africa Should Be an Easy Choice for Donors

There are two humanitarian crises in Africa that are drawing considerable attention from the international community.
The first is in the Central African Republic (CAR), where internal violence during the last year has occurred along religious lines and caused thousands to flee the country. A United Nations peacekeeping force of 12,000 is expected to deploy to the CAR in September. The conflict has interrupted normal planting cycles and, as a result, approximately 1.6 million people are experiencing acute food insecurity and 2.5 million are in need of some type of humanitarian assistance. Humanitarian response, in the form of basic food, shelter, and water supply has been impeded by a lack of security for aid workers in the area. Unable to meet even the most basic needs for existence, other needs, such as the protection of vulnerable populations and medical care fall even further down the line of priority.
The second crisis is in South Sudan. Internal conflict in South Sudan has displaced nearly 1 million people since December. There is a large-scale food crisis in South Sudan, as violence has disrupted planting and scattered livestock. Looting has destroyed in-place relief supplies.
CAR and South Sudan are blips on the radar of most Americans, and the frequency of famine across areas of Africa has created complacency when it comes to funding any sort of crisis on the continent. But donors should consider funding these crises in CAR and South Sudan for several reasons.
First, the needs are intensely humanitarian in nature. While food supply and security is a high priority for both situations, the lack of clean water and medical care is also cause for concern, as disease outbreaks have soared, particularly in refugee settlements (measles in CAR and cholera in South Sudan). The countries neighboring South Sudan and CAR are not equipped to handle the large amounts of refugees flowing across the borders or assist with setting up camps to shelter them. In some cases, borders have been closed to refugees.
Second, there is a tight cluster of international non-governmental organizations (iNGOs) working diligently to provide aid. It is difficult to provide aid in situations where workers are in constant danger. The iNGOs that are working in these situations are highly focused on meeting these key needs as quickly and efficiently as possible. This means that as a donor, it is easy to find an area to focus on and narrow down the groups working to address that need.
Third, the action of donors has real, quantifiable results. Food rations given to refugees can be quantified through the number of packages funded. Water supply needs can be tracked through the numbers of water purification tablets or central water stations. Medical relief can be shown through the number of immunizations provided, the number of people served by a funded clinic, and more. And those statistics and numbers don’t even begin to scratch the surface.
Some relief issues, while extremely important, are more difficult to quantify results in – livelihoods, agriculture, psychological care are some examples of this. But in these situations – where food rations, water supply, and medical care – are the most pressing needs, results are easily quantifiable. For donors, that means numbers that tell a compelling philanthropic story.
“My organization’s funds kept ‘X’ number of people out of acute hunger for ‘X’ number of months,”
“our funds ensured that ‘X’ number of children received immunizations to protect them from disease outbreaks in the camp where they live.”
That’s a powerful story that is incredibly easy to tell through the numbers gained by focused funding to basic needs, and it’s a major advantage that donors should not overlook.

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