Kimberley Rotary seeks support for West Africa

A ShelterBox team is on the ground in Niger where flooding has cause massive displacement and food shortages.

Almost 19 million people have been displaced in Niger. A ShelterBox team is on the ground

The Rotary ShelterBox program has had a remarkable run in Kimberley, as the generosity of residents has put the city on the top of the list for per capita fundraising.

Graham Mann, who has been spearheading the fundraising in Kimberley since the local Rotary  club began raising funds for ShelterBox, says Kimberley residents have responded time after time as crisis like the earthquakes in Japan and Haiti and other disasters left thousands homeless.

Donations have dipped a bit, but he hopes that  residents will give again as ShelterBox tackles flooding in West Africa.

“Donations are not keeping up the incredible pace but they are not bad,” Mann said.

The issue may be that there is a perception that there is no major crisis right now. And that’s not so, Mann says.

“There’s no perceived major disaster; no Japan, no Haiti. But there is West Africa and it’s not yet being picked up on by national media so very few people know about it.”

The entire Sahel region of West Africa is facing a serious crisis, as an estimated 18.7 million people have been affected by food insecurity, malnutrition and widespread displacement.  In Niger, these issues have been compounded by massive flooding as well as an influx of refugees fleeing conflict in neighbouring Mali.

The floods that struck Niger in August were the worst the country has seen in nearly 100 years.  The United Nations reported that 14,000 homes and 7,000 crop fields were destroyed, leaving many of the country’s poorest without shelter and food.

ShelterBox Response Team member Mike Freeman spoke from Niger. “The River Niger in Niamey has breached its banks, spreading up to 200 metres inland in places.  Families had built along the riverbanks and planted rice crops which are now all gone.  Many villages are completely covered by water and can’t be seen.”

Now that ShelterBox is on the ground in Niger, it is hoped that word about the crisis may be more widely spread.

Right now, the Canadian government will match every dollar raised to deliver aid in Niger. The deadline for a matched donation is September 30.

The fact that the government is matching funds indicates the severity of the crisis, Mann said.

“The matching funds will not go to buy a matching ShelterBox,” he said. “But it will dollar for dollar buy more food, more water, more essentials for the people in Niger.”

ShelterBox has provided shelter, warmth, and dignity to thousands of people following more than 180 disasters in over 75 countries since 2000. ShelterBox instantly responds to natural and man-made disasters by delivering boxes of aid containing emergency shelter and life-saving equipment to help families survive the immediate aftermath and begin to rebuild their lives. ShelterBox Canada is a registered Canadian charity (#84628 3208 RR0001) and a Rotary International Project Partner.

If you would like to donate contact Graham Mann at 250-427-5057 or email gmann@shelterboxvolunteer.org

ShelterBox will also be at the upcoming Kimberley Community Fair, where Mann will launch the fall fundraising.

“Summer is always pretty quiet for fundraising, but we hope to kick off with the Fall Fair,” he said.

However, to access the federal matching funds, the sooner you donate, the better.

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