Most of us in the developed world struggle to understand the ferocity of famine.
We have weathered hurricanes, heavy winds and hard rains. Some have been rattled by earthquakes. But famines seem to deliver nothing that we in America can relate to: no rain, no shake – only photos of distant lands, dry earth and stick-figure people who have starved for so long they can't stand.
Reports about the latest famine on the Horn of Africa – the first official famine since 1985 – have brought us more of these photos. They are heart-breaking and, at the same time, they are mind-boggling. Tonight, our plates will be full. In parts of Kenya, Ethiopia, Djibouti and Somalia, people will be lucky to swallow a spoonful of maize.
Today's Wall Street Journal made an attempt to communicate the scope of the famine in mathematical terms: "Famine is declared when acute child malnutrition exceeds 30 percent of the population and more than two people of every 10,000 die each day from hunger," the report read.
According to one expert, malnutrition rates in Somalia are now reaching 50 percent in some places. Tens of thousands of people have died – most of them children. Another 3.7 million are suffering. And that's just in Somalia.
Reuters quoted Mark Bowden, the UN's humanitarian coordinator for Somalia, as saying, "If we don't act now, famine will spread to all eight regions of southern Somalia within two months, due to poor harvests and infectious disease outbreaks."
Five Talents partner World Concern has been working in Somalia for years and is mobilizing in the famine-stricken areas, delivering water, food and energy supplies. Stay tuned to find out how you can help.