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As drought and famine get worse in Africa, a MN group tries to help

Drought in the Horn of Africa means livestock are dying and crops aren't growing.

A Minnesota group that started after a previous famine hit East Africa is shifting into high gear as the current drought threatens to turn that region into a disaster area.

The American Relief Agency for the Horn of Africa (ARAHA) is based in Columbia Heights and says it was started by professionals and members of the Twin Cities' East African community after a humanitarian crisis in 2000.

The situation is getting dire in that part of the world again. A couple years of drought in Somalia have made water scarce and led the country's president to declare a national disaster a few weeks ago.

Ethiopia, Kenya, and Sudan are also struggling with drought. Now not only is drinkable water harder to come by, but food is, too, as the drought kills livestock and leads to meager crops, CNN reports.

Africa News says this is the continent's worst drought since 1945.

Local response

Mohamed Idris, the executive director of ARAHA, knows the drought's impact on food supplies means the situation is likely to get worse before it gets better.

Idris tells WCCO one of the reasons a 2011 famine killed 260,000 people in Somalia is that international help arrived too late to help them.

“Mass death among livestock in the horn of Africa is a sign of looming famine,” Idris said, adding that early intervention can help prevent a repeat of 2011's tragedy.

The American Relief Agency for the Horn of Africa has a four-star rating (that's the highest) from Charity Navigator.

ARAHA has its own fundraising drive underway. A GoFundMe campaign started by the Somali Student Association, a group of college students in the U.S. and Canada, is also directing its proceeds to ARAHA.

That group is also holding an April 1 fundraising event at the University of Minnesota.

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