Friday, August 17, 2012

When drought happens...

Here in the United States, it’s the worst one in 56 years. The USDA is forecasting a drop in corn and soybean yields somewhere in the 10-15% range by the time harvesting starts next month. All-the-while, Capitol Hill current debates waiving a requirement that would allow for the U.S. to lower its use and production of ethanol in order to let more of the corn be used for food and livestock feed. Most Americans see the dead grass on their front lawns, read news articles about how to conserve water, and will probably see a rise in food prices throughout the fall and winter when they go to the grocery store because it will cost a little more to truck in food from other areas of the country. As food prices rise, there will be more applications for SNAP, more walk-in’s at food pantries, and more people forfeiting nutrition in order to simply afford their next meal.

Half a world away, in Burkina Faso, Africa, they’re having a drought too. But, it’s the third major drought in recent years. The U.N. World Food Programme estimates they’ve lost 50% of their grain crops (and a majority of livestock) this year alone, leaving 1.7 million people (11% of their population) at risk for starvation. Tragically, the food that is making it to market is highly priced – much more so than an average family can afford on an average per capita income of 300 U.S. dollars. Even worse, Burkina Faso’s economy is so shaky (mostly built on agriculture) they don’t have much to export and ultimately trade for food. The U.N. is providing most of the emergency food/water assistance but it won’t reach everyone. The situation is deteriorating near the Mali border where thousands of hungry, conflict-weary Malians have crossed the border and poured into refugee camps being administered by the Red Cross. No rains are forecasted and the lean season is fast approaching.

Villagers in Tin Akoff, Burkina Faso collect water

Think about this: when drought happens in the U.S., the media talks about crops lost. When drought happens in places like Burkina Faso, they talk about people lost. As if somehow the two are equal…it’s a injustice and we know it doesn’t need to be like that! That’s why organizations like Oxfam America are deployed in the Sahel, bringing lasting solutions to the inequities that result in extreme poverty. We know that this isn’t Burkina Faso’s last drought and if we can provide them the tools and resilience to respond to this one and any future drought, we’ve made the world a more secure place. That’s how we make our home a better home for all.

Help us take action – sign a pledge, start a fundraising page, follow or ‘like’ Oxfam on the social media outlets! Act Fast!

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