In 1943, Catholic Relief Services (CRS) was formed to help resettle war refugees in Europe. Established by the U.S. Catholic bishops, the agency focused on helping people recover from a conflict that resulted in the deaths of tens of millions, and tens of millions more displaced and made homeless.
Almost 70 years later, CRS has continued to focus upon helping the poor in all parts of the world. The agency has expanded its scope to include programs in Asia, Africa and Latin America. Providing needed help and aid to people in nearly 100 countries around the world.
In the countries of the Horn of Africa, between 12 and 14 million people face hunger and malnutrition. Millions have been displaced into refugee camps. Severe drought and the resulting crop failure, along with rising food costs, have created this great need – and most of the people in need are children.
CRS has had programs underway to address the drought problem in the region, including efforts to develop irrigation systems for agriculture. With the rising refugee problem, CRS expanded its mission to include humanitarian assistance. In Ethiopia, CRS is helping to feed almost one million people. In Kenya, the agency is partnering with a number of other groups to coordinate assistance and relief. Its “dams of sand” program, for example, has helped to prevent runoff of much needed water for agriculture.
The impact of a drought lasts long after the rains fall. Drought becomes a constant worry in the back of people’s minds, and the reminders of drought slow investment in infrastructure, agriculture and other longer term projects that can help the region weather or recover from the effects with greater resiliency.
The Monsanto Fund and Monsanto Company recently donated $350,000 to CRS to help provide immediate help in the areas of basic hygiene for refugee camps, fresh water and sanitation. To aid in longer term, funds will be used for community-based recovery projects such as rehabilitation of dozens of boreholes that provide water to villages and home water purification, among other projects.
Individuals can donate to the CRS Horn of Africa relief program here.