Some people have asked me if i would know a small local NGO to which one could donate to support the victim of the droughts.
I honestly think that immediate emergency help should pass through big well known NGOs. One should never forget that Somalia and its borders to neighboring countries Kenya and Ethiopia are considered as unstable or even war zones. If I understood correctly from the news, only the Red Cross is getting access to Somalia.
But before donating one should think about what makes really sense. Many of the people who are fleeing hunger theses days, come from an areas for which all climate model predict more and more droughts. It is an area which simply does not have the capacity to feed all the people. By saving the children from hunger, don't we just create the army of tomorrow? Isn't it very hypocritical that societies that mostly contributed to climate change do just send food for their good conscience without addressing the problem at its root? Though I do not wish to any child to die from starvation, I do not wish any youngsters to be involved in the "primitive" African wars were people just kill with knives in 10 years from now...
True solutions lie in finding ways to improve food security to those people whose livelihoods depend on agriculture in marginal areas as well as improving market access and information to bring food from excess regions to deficient regions. Research institute like ILRI or IWMI are trying to understand what really makes a change to people in marginal areas and suggest to donors and NGO what to do. But in the end, we will never know what really works unless we have tried...
During my relatively short stay here, i met people from three different NGOs which work made senses to me and was well back up with research. I have not checked any of the project on the ground but at least from a project perspective it makes sense. First is Menschen für Menschen a German based organisation. The coordinator for Ethiopia is a Swiss who has worked here more than 30 years. Their projects involve farmers also in marginal areas, and their objectives are to improve agriculture in a sustainable way and increase water access. They are also involved in a emergency relief action in Ethiopia. Menschen für Menschen is also involved in linking up with research. There action really makes sense, as they are involved in this country for many years to improve agriculture. You can find all the detail under : http://www.menschenfuermenschen.de/
Secondly an NGO that impresses me a lot is IDE, international development entreprise. They are not involved in the emergency relief but they use water an entry point and make use of market forces to create water access. In Ethiopia, this NGO is involved in drilling well and providing a warehouse (= creating a input market access) for all the tools needed for the wells and the pumps (spare parts). IDE is a NGO that is directly partner in implementation in some IWMI (international water management institute) projects http://ethiopia.ideorg.org/
Finally Oxfam (US and Canada) seems to be seriously evolved in improving food security, and one of their intern is now based at IWMI to improve the link between research and development.
One of the reasons why Ethiopia is not doing as bad as Somalia, is that the Ethiopian government has improved it drought management and implemented safety net programs. http://ilriclippings.wordpress.com/2011/08/02/development-aid-works-look-at-ethiopias-greater-resilience-in-this-drought/
Aid can make a difference to the victims if it is well done. But when you donate, make sure that you donate to an organisation that will not just run away after the famine, and that is truly involved in improving agricultural based livelihoods, namely by promoting sustainable agriculture or improved water access over the long term. The three organisations mentioned above made sense to me and are working in Ethiopia for a long time, but I am sure that there are others, also in Kenya.
So if you are thinking about donate, do it, but never stop questioning!