British public contribute £42m to urgent East Africa appeal

By staff writers
3 Aug 2011

The British public has contributed £42 million to the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) appeal for more than 10 million people in East Africa in desperate need of humanitarian aid because of severe drought.

But more is still needed, the consortium of relief and development organisations, both secular and faith-related, is emphasising.

In a new fund raising milestone, DEC says that more than £1 million of that amount has been raised by the public using SMS texting to send money.

The consortium's chief executive Brendan Gormley has praised the generosity of the British public. He declared: "To raise £42 million in just over three weeks is a wonderful demonstration of public concern for those in need."

Gormley continued: "We can’t lose sight of the fact, however, that this is an escalating crisis. It is now for the UN to act and for governments worldwide to dig deep to alleviate the suffering.

"The UN assessment of what is needed in Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia, for example, stands at nearly $2.5 billion. Less than half of that has so far been received from donor nations.

"Similarly, in South Sudan, the UN has called for $620 million, much of which is to tackle food shortages caused in the fragile new state by drought and displacement. The amount that has actually been raised is $324 million," the DEC chief executive concluded.

The DEC appeal covers Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, and the newly-formed Republic of South Sudan, where the need for food, water and emergency healthcare is acute.

The worst drought in 60 years in parts of East Africa has devastated cattle and crops, with problems expected to be compounded by a poor coming harvest. The situation is now so serious that famine has been declared in two regions of Somalia, with other areas expected to follow.

Commenting on the amount raised by SMS texting, DEC fundraising managing Polly Gilchrist said: "We are delighted to have shown that there is a new audience out there that want a quick and easy way to make donations in a way that is relevant to them. Asking people to use their mobiles has paid dividends."

"This lays to rest scepticism about whether texting works as a method of giving funds. As of 2 August 2011 we have raised £1,063,000 by this method, which with Gift Aid comes to more than £1,250,000. This is over 500 per cent more than we have raised from texting in the past. It is also encouraging that more than 60 per cent of SMS donors have responded to the request for Gift Aid details, which means nearly 25 per cent can be added to the value of their donations."

The Disasters Emergency Committee consists of Action Aid, Age UK, British Red Cross, CAFOD, CARE International UK, Christian Aid, Concern Worldwide, Islamic Relief, Merlin, Oxfam, Save the Children, Tearfund and World Vision.

* To make a donation to the DEC East Africa Crisis Appeal visit http://www.dec.org.uk, call the 24 hour hotline on 0370 60 60 900, donate over the counter at any high street bank or post office, or send a cheque. You can also donate £5 by texting the word CRISIS to 70000.

* Stay up to date with developments in East Africa, the emergency response and the fundraising efforts with the DEC on twitter: http://twitter.com/decappeal or become a fan of ‘Disasters-Emergency-Committee-DEC’ on Facebook.

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