Originally published July 18, 2011. Farming God’s Way in Kenya is going strong today, continuing to provide “famine prevention” skills combined with discipleship training.
It has been a year of flood and drought. This spring’s floods along the Mississippi and Missouri rivers are old news to most of us, as is the ongoing drought in Texas, which is breaking records set as long ago as 1917, long before the Dust Bowl of the 1930’s.
But nowhere in the world are things as bad as what is happening in East Africa, not far from where Craig and Tracy Sorley are serving in Kenya.
The Worst Drought in 60 Years
“Once More Into the Abyss”. That’s how the Economist news magazine described the developing drought in Kenya and other East African countries a week or so ago:
BLOATED bellies with stick arms and legs; huge eyes staring out of skeletal heads; gaunt mothers trying to suckle babies on withered breasts. The world thought it might never see such scenes again. Famine in Africa, absent for many years, appeared to have gone the way of diseases for which we now have cures or vaccines.
Yet, after the worst drought in 60 years, more than 10m people in the Horn of Africa need emergency food aid. Livestock have been annihilated. Hundreds of thousands of people are streaming into refugee camps in search of help. Malnutrition rates in some areas are five times more severe than the threshold aid agencies use to define a crisis. Many children are already dying of starvation.
Our people in Kenya – Craig and Tracy Sorley and their Kenyan team – live just to the south of the hardest hit areas. Craig recently sent us the following email:
As I write this email there are roughly 10 million people requiring emergency food aid in the horn of Africa, with people by the thousands fleeing into Kenya and Ethiopia each day due to the extreme drought in Somalia (no rain for 2 whole years). Closer to home many Kenyans can only purchase 2 pkts of maize flour at a time due to rationing, and according to the relatives of one of our tree nursery staff members, most stores in Samburu District currently have nothing on their shelves to sell. Even more distressing, we just learned that 8 women were killed in this same district yesterday due to violence that erupted over conflicts for scarce pasture and water resources. In my recent visits to Mai Mahiu, just below our home in Kijabe, a similar story is unfolding. Most farmers will experience only minimal harvest if not complete crop failure (see picture) due to a lack of rain during the most important stages of crop growth.
On a more hopeful note I have also seen a handful of farmers (in Mai Mahiu and Ndeiya) who are using Farming God’s Way and whose yields will be far better than those around them. In the second picture (which I took just yesterday) you will see the difference that FGW is making in our current demonstration here at Moffat Bible College. With all inputs being equal, the beans that were planted in the FGW plot are now 3 times as vigorous as the control plot planted in the conventional manner.
While we live in a hungry nation (and a hungry continent) we do have some very promising solutions to bring both spiritual and physical healing to communities. It is my hope that we can all work together to expand the reach of CCK’s vision for God-centered environmental and agricultural stewardship.
Cutting Edge Strategy
It is more than interesting that the strategy Craig and his team have been pursuing through the Farming God’s Way program is exactly the kind of intervention that world food authorities are recommending. The United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs has just released a reportin which they say,
Food security must now be attained through green technology so as to reduce the use of chemical inputs — fertilizers and pesticides — and to make more efficient use of energy, water and natural resources.
Evidence has shown that for most crops the optimal farm is small in scale and that it is at this level that most gain in terms of both sustainable productivity increases and rural poverty reduction can be achieved.
Not Food Aid but Famine Prevention
In the face of an impending crisis like the ongoing drought and famine in East Africa, it is common for organizations to appeal for funds to provide food aid. At Care of Creation we don’t do food aid. Lots of other organizations are involved in that kind of work, and we salute them. What they are doing is important. But we don’t have the staff or infrastructure, and our calling is different. Rather then send you a picture of a starving child, describing the tragedy that is, we would rather you look at the healthy plants in the second picture above, and think about what could be.
What we’re doing is working to prevent the next famine, and the one after that. If we can continue our work of training farmers to take care of their land ‘God’s way’, we will be giving these farmers, their families and their communities a foundation of resilience that will allow them to live more prosperously in the good years, and survive with a little less pain in the bad ones.
Craig and the team need your help, facing their own small drought of funding in the next month or two. Chronically short of funds, they are overwhelmed with the needs that surround them. Your prayers – and your gifts – will keep them going.