HORN OF AFRICA: Salesian Missions Among USAID Partners, Ad Council Launches New "FWD" Campaign

NEW ROCHELLE, N.Y. (October 27, 2011) - Salesian Missions is among the international humanitarian organizations working to save lives in the Horn of Africa, and is one of the official "FWD" campaign partners. The new national public awareness campaign is titled "FWD"—for famine, war and drought—which is an acronym for the three crises affecting the Horn. The campaign was launched in September 2011 by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Ad Council.

The campaign includes television, radio and internet ads featuring well-known actors and public figures, and will direct audiences to visit www.usaid.gov/FWD to find more information about the crisis and a listing of U.S.-funded humanitarian organizations—including Salesian Missions—working in the Horn of Africa that are accepting donations to aid in disaster relief.

The FWD campaign was developed in response to the drought and famine in the Horn of Africa. The campaign encourages Americans to do more than just donate by providing tools to spread awareness of the crisis, support the humanitarian organizations conducting the relief operations, and learn more about the solutions through President Obama’s Feed the Future initiative.

Across the eastern Horn of Africa, more than 13 million people—a number greater than the populations of Los Angeles and New York City combined—are now in need of emergency assistance to survive. The crisis is the most severe humanitarian emergency in the world today, and the worst that East Africa has seen in six decades. Crops have failed, livestock have died, and high prices in local markets prevent many people from buying what is needed to feed their families. Millions of people are affected in Ethiopia, Djibouti, Kenya, and in Somalia where tens of thousands of people have died as a result of the crisis.

Through the Feed the Future initiative, the United States Government is addressing the root causes of chronic hunger by helping foster better farming, stronger markets, and greater resilience to climate shocks.

"We know that these types of crises don’t need to happen. Through Feed the Future, we are working to end hunger around the world,” says Rajiv Shah, USAID administrator. "By partnering with governments, the private sector and smallholder farmers, we can help nations build resilient agricultural sectors and break the devastating cycle of food riots, famine and failed states."

Despite the magnitude of the crisis, according to a national survey released today by the Ad Council, conducted online by Harris Interactive among 2,226 U.S. adults aged 18 and older in September 2011, more than half (52 percent) of the general public say that they have not seen, heard, or read anything about the drought and famine occurring in the Horn of Africa.

The campaign aims to change those numbers with television and web ads featuring Dr. Jill Biden and actors Uma Thurman, Josh Hartnett, Geena Davis and Chanel Iman. The campaign will also be engaging high-profile athletes such as Lance Armstrong and writer and television host Anthony Bourdain. In addition to the traditional ads, the campaign includes an extensive social media program via USAID’s Facebook and Twitter channels, as well as blogs and other sites.

"We are extremely proud to be among the humanitarian organizations partnering with USAID," says Father Mark Hyde, executive director of Salesian Missions headquartered in New Rochelle, NY. "We are very thankful for the Ad Council's work on the FWD campaign and are hopeful more people will become aware of the crisis and take action to help save lives."

Salesian Missions supports programs in South Sudan, Ethiopia and Kenya which have all been affected by the crisis in the region. In refugee camps served by Salesians in the area, more than 80,000 people are in need of assistance, according to Brother Cesare Bullo, executive director of the Salesian Planning and Development Office in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

"They arrive after having walked more than 600 kilometers," says Br. Bullo, emphasizing the urgent nature of the refugees' needs. "We are working to distribute food outside the refugee camps while they are waiting to be registered," he says, referring to the area of Dolo Ado in the Southern part of Somalia. "We estimate we can provide 2,000 daily rations which means 1,000 people will benefit from the daily distribution for at least three or four days before entering the camps."

The Salesians specialize in assessing specific needs and identifying best possible emergency interventions to aid as many people as possible. Since they are already established in the communities working to help those in need, they are in a unique position to assess situations and respond. Amid the growing numbers of refugees and declining food and water supply at the Kakuma camp, the seemingly impossible is happening. Young people are receiving job training and children are attending school.

Salesian Missions calls on the public to make donations, as they are urgently needed to fulfill these essential life-saving projects. To make a donation, go to www.SalesianMissions.org, click on Donate Now and select "African Famine Fund."

Salesian Missions is the U.S. arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco, which operates in more than 130 countries around the globe with a focus on providing education and opportunity to youth. Since registering with USAID as a private voluntary organization, the Salesian Missions Office for International Programs has implemented 70 projects totaling more than $50 million in financial support.

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Source: USAID | Salesian Missions