Mormon church adds $11M to famine relief in Africa, Middle East

(Ben Curtis | AP Photo) Camel herders scoop up water in plastic buckets from one of the few watering holes in the area, to water their animals near the drought-affected village of Bandarero, near Moyale town on the Ethiopian border, in northern Kenya, Friday, March 3, 2017. The U.N. humanitarian chief, Stephen O'Brien, toured Bandarero village on Friday and called on the international community to act to "avert the very worst of the effects of drought and to avert a famine to make sure we don't go from what is deep suffering to a catastrophe."

The LDS Church is providing an additional $11 million in aid to eight famine-stricken nations in Africa and the Middle East.

Gerald Causse, presiding bishop of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, said the Utah-based faith’s LDS Charities is partnering with 11 other global relief organizations in the effort.

By teaming up, the Mormon humanitarian agency is supporting 25 famine- and drought-related projects in Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan, Yemen, Niger, Kenya, Uganda and Congo.

Causse, who oversees the LDS Church’s vast real estate and commercial holdings along with the collection and distribution of members’ tithes and donations, said he was able to see the crises in person during recent trips to Africa.

“Contributions from our faithful members,” he said in a news release, “provide funding for food, shelter, clean water, medical care and other life-sustaining supplies for more than a million people — including severely malnourished children.”

Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune Bishop Gerald Causse gives a talk during the 187th Annual General Conference at the Conference Center in Salt Lake City, Saturday, April 1, 2017.

LDS Charities is working with groups such as CARE International, Catholic Relief Services, Convoy of Hope, International Rescue Committee, Islamic Relief USA, Rahma Relief, Real Medicine Foundation, Save the Children, UNICEF USA, USA for UNHCR and the World Food Programme.

WFP officials describe the situation as critical: 20 million people near starvation and 5.7 million children “dangerously malnourished.”

Prerana Issar, director of WFP’s Private Sector Partnerships, lauded LDS Charities for its efforts.

“[It] has consistently stepped up to help those who need it most in times of emergency,” Issar said. “Their trust in WFP and their compassion and drive to help those who cannot help themselves has made a difference in the lives of tens of thousands of people suffering from hunger and malnutrition around the world.”

During the past 32 years, LDS Charities has provided nearly $2 billion in relief and aid in 189 countries.

For more information on how you can help, visit the LDS Charities website at https://www.ldscharities.org/how-can-i-help/serve.

“What a wonderful opportunity we have to give of our substance to those who are suffering, to lighten their burdens and let them know that we care,” said Jean B. Bingham, president of the LDS Church’s all-female Relief Society. “And how grateful we are for partners of like mind who help us serve those in places we cannot reach on our own.”

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) Relief Society General President Jean B. Bingham at the podium at the General Women's Session of the 187th Semiannual General Conference of the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, in Salt Lake City, Saturday September 23, 2017.