The Hamilton Spectator
First lady seeks more aid for East Africa
U.S. first lady Jill Biden got an up-close look Sunday at the historic East Africa drought as she walked along arid land and listened as some Maasai women described how their children and livestock are going hungry. She appealed for more countries to join the United States to help alleviate the suffering.
Some areas of the Horn of Africa have endured five consecutive failed rainy seasons, meaning there was no rainfall or an insufficient amount to help farmers with their crops and livestock. An upcoming sixth rainy season, beginning in March, is expected to be about the same or worse.
Biden, who was on the final day of a five-day visit to Africa, toured an outreach centre in the town operated by World Vision with support from UNICEF and the World Food Program.
She chatted with people who had brought their children to be screened for malnutrition and she participated in a discussion with a group of women, including a mother of 10 children, who shared their stories.
“They talked about how their livestock are dying. Obviously, you can see the drought here, how bad it is,” the first lady told reporters afterward. “The one source of water here feeds 12 villages and each village has approximately a thousand to 1,200 people.
“So they are coming here, the people are coming to get water, they’re bringing their livestock to get water. But unfortunately, for many of them, the way they make their living is from their livestock and for most of them, the livestock are dying, so they’re having a hard time,” she said.
Biden noted that the United States has provided 70 per cent of the money sent to the region to help alleviate the suffering, “but we cannot be the only ones.”
“We need to have other countries join us in this global effort to help these people of the region,” she said, adding that the drought was competing with humanitarian efforts tied to Russian’s war in Ukraine and an earthquake that killed tens of thousands of people in Turkey and Syria.
Nearly 23 million people in Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya are thought to be highly food insecure, which means they do not know where they will find their next meal, according to a food security working group chaired by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization and the regional Intergovernmental Authority on Development.
We need to have other countries join us in this global effort to help these people of the region.
JILL BIDEN U.S. FIRST LADY