From the Worldwide Faith News archives

Lutherans Keep Disaster Response in Africa a Top Priority

From News News <NEWS@ELCA.ORG>
Date Thu, 27 Feb 2003 12:12:36 -0600


February 27, 2003


     CHICAGO (ELCA) -- Members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in
America (ELCA) keep disaster response in Africa a top priority despite
little attention from the secular media, according to the Rev. Y.
Franklin Ishida, director for international communication, ELCA Division
for Global Mission.
     Information about "ongoing international disasters appears as
blips in the media," said Ishida. "Some attention from the secular media
occurs from time to time, such as reports about the current famine in
southern Africa.  While it is good that attention is there to some
degree, the reality is that these are very quickly forgotten by most
people," he said.

     Ishida said there are many ongoing needs in parts of Africa.
"Southern Africa continues to be ravaged by drought and famine.  This is
serious, especially as the area is considered to be the bread basket of
southern Africa," he said.
     The drought has led to serious food shortages.  The World Food
Programme described the food shortage as perhaps the most severe and
urgent dilemma the international community faces at the moment, Ishida
said.  "The organization estimates that some 13 million people in
southern Africa are at risk of starvation by March 2003, unless
something urgent is done to avert this," he said.
     Some of the most affected countries include Malawi, Mozambique,
Zambia and Zimbabwe.  The majority of people are dependent on
subsistence agriculture and, as always, women and children are at the
worst end of the food crisis, Ishida said.
     Members of the ELCA have contributed more than $100,000 of the
church's International Disaster Response fund to support famine relief
efforts in southern Africa.
     Coordinated by the ELCA Division for Global Mission, International
Disaster Response often channels its funds through international church
organizations and relief agencies.  Funds are used to provide food,
medicine, drinking water, emergency shelter and other materials for
survivors of disasters around the world.

     Ethiopia also has been hard hit by drought, Ishida said.  The
World Food Programme indicates that six million people are already in
dire need of assistance, with another eight to nine million at risk in
the coming months, he said.
     Ethiopia is a country highly dependent on rain-fed agriculture,
said Ishida.  "This year's partial or total failure of the 'belg' (short
rain) in many areas aggravated the food problem.  The 'meher' (longer
rain) also came late and was erratic, affecting the cycle of crop
development and the availability of pasture and water supplies in many
areas.	Many areas have also not recovered from the drought conditions
of 1999 and 2000," he said.
     The ELCA contributed $70,000 to support famine relief efforts in

     Four years of erratic rain have left many areas of Eritrea very
dry and unproductive.  The harvest is expected to be about 85 percent
less than a normal year, Ishida said.
     "The Eritrea Relief and Refugee Emergency Commission and the
United Nations have estimated that the number of people that require
relief food assistance is more than one million.  Most of the country's
areas also face acute shortages of water for people and livestock," he
     "The situation is worsened by the effects of the recent war with
Ethiopia. Refugees, internally displaced people and other residents are
being affected by the war and drought conditions," said Ishida.
     The ELCA sent $25,000 to support the relief efforts in Eritrea.
The funds were sent to Action by Churches Together, a worldwide network
of churches and related agencies that meets human need through organized
emergency response.  It is housed with the World Council of Churches
(WCC) and the Lutheran World Federation, in Geneva, Switzerland.
     "ELCA International Disaster Response has responded to many other
disasters in Africa and other parts of the world.  The support of ELCA
members is very important as the church responds with compassion and
urgency," Ishida said.
-- -- --
     Details on the ELCA's International Disaster Response can be found
at on the Web.


     Editors: When listing organizations receiving funds for aid to
survivors of major disasters outside the United States, Puerto Rico or
the U.S. Virgin Islands, please include:

ELCA International Disaster Response
PO Box 71764
Chicago, IL 60694-1764
1-800-638-3522 or on the Web.

For information contact:
John Brooks, Director (773) 380-2958 or NEWS@ELCA.ORG

Browse month . . . Browse month (sort by Source) . . . Advanced Search & Browse . . . WFN Home