Aid organizations continue their work while media catches up
However, having arrived in Nairobi and talked to many of our World Vision staff who serve here year ’round, I am quickly realizing how MUCH has been happening by relief organizations like ours and for much LONGER than media outlets have been telling us.
For example, World Vision launched an emergency response to the Horn of Africa back in February. Even before them, staff members were helping communities prepare for the worst.
However, even with relief workers sounding the alarm months ago that a drought or famine was likely coming and action needed to be taken, most media outlets didn’t cover the story then. The drought came, the situation escalated and eventually a famine was officially declared by the U.N. … launching an instant media blitz to Somalia.
Of course, many relief organizations like World Vision are also ramping up response efforts since the number of refugees fleeing to the borders has daily increased. But locally, I am seeing the frustration by staff who are continually being told to “hurry up” and do something quick when this response has been going on for months. The problem is that access into Somalia had been cut off by insurgent groups who have told several relief organizations like ours to leave the south central areas of the country. Yet, meantime, World Vision has been providing emergency food, water and health care to refugees in safe zones like up north for months.
I am learning a lot about humanitarian responses but I think this week I learned that the phrase “hurry up” would be more accurate if we instead said “keep it up!”