Drought causes food shortage for millions in Mexico
World Vision, MCC responding to need
By Aaron Epp | Thursday, August 9, 2012
"Pray for Rain!" - Photo by Chris Harrelson.
WINNIPEG, MBChristian humanitarian organizations are responding to an extreme drought in Mexico that is affecting some 2.5 million people.
Two-thirds of Mexico's states are affected by the drought, which some are calling the worst in 70 years. Even though the rainy season has begun, the amount of rain is lower than normal, according to World Vision.
"The cattle and the harvest are suffering from the lack of water," said Manuel Mendez, World Vision's Mexico-based director of humanitarian and emergency affairs.
He added that two million cattle have died in the last year, costing farmers $1 billion.
There has also been an outbreak of bird flu in some of Mexico's northern states, which has forced farmers to sacrifice five million chickens so far. High temperatures are not helping to control the epidemic.
World Vision began distributing vaccines at the end of July. There is no threat of the virus mutating, but the epidemic has caused a lack of food. As a result, chicken and egg prices have risen.
Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) has stepped in to help in Mexico's Durango Colony, which was established by Low German-speaking Mennonites in 1924 and is located 130 kilometres northwest of the city of Durango.
More than 1,000 families are receiving food and blankets as part of MCC's response. The organization has also distributed packets containing beans, rice, oil, corn, lentils, noodles and sugar to families in the villages and hills in the Nuevo Ideal area. Families have also received canned meat.
"We are anticipating we will need to provide food assistance until the end of September," said John Janzen, MCC Canada's Low German coordinator.
He added that MCC is also supplying farmers with feed for their animals.
"That will continue until new feed comes in," he said. "I think it's accurate that 90 per cent of the residents derive their major income from dairy production. It's their source of livelihood for the future."
Drought has also plagued other parts of North America, including much of the United States as well as parts of central and eastern Canada.
More than 80 per cent of the U.S. is abnormally dry, and 55 per cent is suffering moderate to severe drought. More than 1,000 counties in 26 states have been declared disaster areas.
In mid-July, the Christian Reformed Church called on its members to pray for an end to the drought.
"I am writing to you on a matter of urgent concern that affects us all," Joel R. Boot, the CRC's executive director, wrote in a letter sent to congregations across North America. "I am asking you and your congregation to pray for rain."
He added that "times like these remind us that we are completely dependent on God. And that God has told us that he wants us to come to him with our needs and petitions."
Janzen at MCC urges Christians to donate to the organization to help in their efforts in Mexico.
"We are calling on the nations to assist us in helping our brothers and sisters in this stage," he said.