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Danger, Drought, Disease: a triple threat in the Horn of Africa

August 10, 2011

Written by Mindy Mizell

Have you ever experienced a perfect storm….when nothing in life seems to be going your way and things just seem to continue spiraling downhill? Unfortunately the Horn of Africa is struggling not with just a hunger problem but a highly destructive Triple D storm.

To recap, the situation actually started more than a year ago with the first D or Danger. Al Shabaab began to take over much of south central Somalia and asked World Vision and 18 other relief organizations to leave the region. By the start of 2011, the second D or Drought started to escalate in severity eventually growing into the worst hunger crisis in 60 years. Now, this August the third D is hitting hard. Disease. Just this month, health workers along the border of Somalia/Ethiopia are reporting 25 deaths from a suspected measles outbreak in Dollo Ado.  And it appears a measles outbreak could be growing worse. While the UN’s refugee agency (UNHCR) is also reporting another 47 suspected cases, other diseases like Cholera and Malaria are threats as well.

However, I feel at least a little bit encouraged by the sudden spike in interest among news organizations right now. If there were ever anyone who needed our full attention and focus it’s the people here in eastern Africa who are struggling the most.

They just can’t seem to catch a break. And unfortunately, the situation is only growing worse.

Scientists now predict the rains probably won’t come for another 3-4 months and millions more could be at risk of losing their lives.

As this is my first World Vision response, I’ve been learning a ton daily especially regarding how relief organizations like ours can most effectively work.  For example, if we just addressed the food crisis, we would be ignoring other immediate, life-threatening factors that millions of families are also facing.  Let’s say I was in a car accident and went to the hospital. If my doctors only gave me food but didn’t address my medical problems, I probably wouldn’t survive.

It’s the same situation here in the Horn of Africa. An effective response must address all 3 D’s. Drought, Danger & Disease. I’m glad that’s what World Vision is working to do. Our teams are not only distributing emergency nutritional supplements like Plumpynut to children, but we’re also providing tents to protect people and pharmaceuticals to cut down on diseases. It’s a Triple D response for a Triple D storm, yet as this storm continues to pick up steam we need to think about a 4th ‘D’….Doing. Or more specifically, all of us Doing more.

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