Our work in times of emergency

Friday, September 17, 2021
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Yemen is home to one of the greatest humanitarian emergencies of our time. Through our member The Christian and Missionary Alliance, we provided emergency food to families forced from their home by conflict and facing crisis levels of hunger. (Photo: Submitted)

Things have been so difficult that even those who would normally help our family have nothing to give, and they too are hungry.

Mr. Mashamba of Gutu, Zimbabwe

Last year, we approved funding of food assistance for 337,031 people experiencing humanitarian emergencies in 18 countries.

Accessing food is a major challenge when fleeing for safety, living through drought or trying to recover from a powerful cyclone. Our emergency food and nutrition assistance provides families with support to survive and rebound from the hardships caused by circumstances like these.

Women and children often suffer the most in times of crisis. Many of our member-led emergency food assistance projects provide fortified food to ensure pregnant and nursing mothers and young children can access the nutrients they need to survive.

As need for emergency food intensified during the pandemic, our members and their partners adapted quickly. We adjusted budgets to allow for purchasing personal protective equipment, rescheduled and adapted food distributions to allow for physical distancing, and some projects even delivered food to people at home.

Disasters and crises we responded to in 2020-21: 

Lifesaving food in rural Zimbabwe

“Things have been so difficult that even those who would normally help our family have nothing to give, and they too are hungry,” says Mr. Mashamba of Gutu, Zimbabwe. In Zimbabwe, record high food prices, multiple years of poor rainfall, and the economic impact of the pandemic mean millions of people faced hunger in 2020-21.

Mr. Mashamba, a participant in an emergency food project of our member Emergency Relief and Development Overseas, is one of these people. Like many Zimbabweans, he and his family depend on their land for food and income. “Even one meal a day was a struggle,” he says.

Through the Pentecostal Assemblies of Zimbabwe, Mr. Mashamba and his family received seven monthly rations of maize meal, beans and cooking oil to help them get through the lean season. “The program has meant that we have three meals a day,” he says.

Local volunteers help fight severe malnutrition in rural Haiti

The following is one example of a project undertaken with support from Global Affairs Canada.

“There are many children in the community who have been sick but since the clinics, they have not been ill, and many have been healed.”

Those are the words of Thelot Emmanuel, a community leader in the remote mountainous community of Jeannin, Haiti. Many young children in Jeannin suffer from varying degrees of malnutrition, including some who would not survive without treatment.

Thelot Emmanuel holds a frightened child brought into a community clinic to be screened for malnutrition. The clinic is run by Partners in Health and supported by our member Presbyterian World Service & Development. (Photo: Partners in Health Haiti)

Through our member Presbyterian World Service & Development, and working through Partners in Health Haiti, we are supporting mobile nutrition clinics to reach remote communities to screen children for malnutrition, and offer nutrition treatment and advice for parents.

Because Jeannin is so remote, the team relies on Thelot to act as a liaison between clinic staff and families with young children in the community. Thelot lets families know when the malnutrition team is coming and encourages them to bring their children for screening. He also volunteers to stay during the clinics to help the nurses weigh the children. Many of the kids—especially the younger ones—get a little fussy when they’re transferred to the hanging scale, so Thelot’s help is much needed.

“What is satisfying to me is my service to my community. What is hard for me is that it often rains during these activities. It is difficult on slippery roads and little protection against the rain, but the satisfaction of my community comes first.”

This story was featured in the 2021 Annual Report. Download or order your copy here.

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