Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Nuru International and Hunger In East Africa

It’s kind of hard to get our minds around a drought and what it means for people living in extreme poverty when we live in the United States. I think it’s hard because many of us have lost the connection between the weather and our food. It’s hard for us to imagine arrival at a supermarket and finding the shelves empty because food isn’t being produced. Imagine, walking through the produce section and seeing people fighting over the last small bag of potatoes, because nobody is sure when or if there will be another shipment arriving soon.

For 70% of the world’s extreme poor, they live in remote rural areas. There are no supermarkets insuring that there won’t be a shortage of food to eat. Instead, they rely on the land and work to the best of their ability to insure that their families have food to eat. And right now, there are millions in the Horn of Africa who are starving because of a drought, and because before the drought they lacked access to life-changing tools and knowledge.

Even in Kuria, Kenya where Nuru works, farmers have been affected by the drought. My friend Jake recently shared about a walk he took with a Nuru Agricultural Field Manager, James about the impact of the drought in Kuria. Nuru farmers have seen a decrease in yield of 20-30% on average, but thankfully, they still have enough food to feed their families and pay back the loan of seed and fertilizer they received at the beginning of the season. 

Other farmers did not fair so well. On the same walk, Jake and James came across a Nuru farmer’s fields and they were filled with maize that stood ten feet high.  Next to this field was a field with maize that stood 2-3 feet high and many of the plants didn’t have maize on them at all. James commented to Jake, “The drought has come again to Kenya. There will be hunger here. There will be so many this season.” James eyes grew more and more sad as he and Jake talked next to these fields.

The World Food Programme has noted that about 13 million people will be affected by drought in Somalia alone. This famine is absolutely overwhelming. It’s utterly heartbreaking, and yet, it is so difficult to imagine that in today’s world there are people who are literally starving to death.

It doesn’t have to be this way. As I mentioned before, over 10,000 people who are participating in Nuru’s agricultural programs are beginning to turn the tide.  They were trained in best practices for growing maize, took out Nuru agricultural loans, and have enough to feed their families and pay back their loans.  Programs like Nuru’s are allowing our neighbors who are living in extreme poverty to bring about lasting change through simple, scalable and sustainable ideas that can literally save lives.

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