Canadians donate $70-million to drought-stricken East Africa

Oct 5 2011 - 12:00am
Globe and Mail

Canadians contributed $70-million to East Africa famine relief, a figure that will be matched by the Harper government.

This brings the total government response to $142-million – $70-million in matching funds and $72.35-million that was provided earlier for humanitarian efforts in Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia, where more than 13 million people are affected by a devastating drought.

International Co-operation Minister Bev Oda released the figure Wednesday morning. She is speaking at the opening of the McGill Conference on Global Food Security in Montreal.

“Once again, it looks like Canadians have demonstrated their compassion and generosity,” she said in her speech.

In July, Ms. Oda announced the East Africa Drought Relief Fund, which ran for 10 weeks until Sept. 16. The government pledged then to match the donations from that time period.

But she said the humanitarian crisis “will extend well into next year.”

She added that the crisis “has clearly shown that we cannot neglect food security in all its parts, we cannot neglect nutrition and shown that we cannot neglect the need to constantly strengthen the agriculture sector.”

In her remarks, Ms. Oda noted, too, that since June some 30 countries – 23 of which are in Africa – have faced severe food crises.

“Nearly one billion people in the world are hungry and in February, the World Bank reported that an additional 44 million people were pushed into poverty by soaring food prices,” she said.

Global food stocks continue to be “alarmingly low,” she noted.

And the global economic situation is not helping – “creating circumstances that in many cases are contributing to food security risks, and in other cases threatening the international community’s ability to respond effectively.”