The Horn of Africa is experiencing the most severe food crisis in the world today. More than 12 million people in Kenya, Ethiopia, Somalia and Djibouti are severely affected and in need of urgent life-saving assistance. The UN reports that record levels of acute malnutrition have been registered in Somalia, affecting 58 percent of children under the age of 5.

Offering Support

To help with this difficult issue, The Coca-Cola Foundation, along with Coca-Cola's Central East and West Africa Business Unit and its Africa-based bottling partners and employees, have pledged $1.4 million. "As a business with operations spanning across the Horn of Africa, we and our bottling partners strongly believe that the scale and magnitude of this crisis demands collaborative effort from all," says Nathan Kalumbu, Coca-Cola's president for Central, East and West Africa.

Coca-Cola's philanthropic arm is extending more than $1 million of the grant directly to The American Red Cross in support of Red Cross and Red Crescent partners operating in the Horn of Africa. The funds will be administered by the Kenya Red Cross, Ethiopia Red Cross and Somalia Red Crescent for immediate trucking of water to affected areas and providing impacted communities with basic food and critical medicine with a special focus on children. Significant portions of the funds will be administered in Kenya as the country grapples with twin problems of its own food challenges as well as the support it is giving to neighboring Somalia.

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is the world's largest humanitarian and development network with nearly 100 million members, volunteers and supporters around the world. The organization, which employs the capabilities and expertise of local Coca-Cola bottling partners, has responded to disasters in more than 50 countries over nearly a century.

"Our partnership with The Coca-Cola Company has the potential to become one of the world’s leading business and civil-society collaborations," says Bekele Geleta, secretary general, IFRC. "It will enable us to extend our reach even farther in communities worldwide so we can be of greater service to vulnerable people. In this era of increasing natural disasters, imagine the magnitude of what we can accomplish together in disaster response and preparedness."

Kalumbu and leaders of the various Coca-Cola bottlers in Kenya called on governments, civil society and the private sector to remain constructively discontent in an effort to find long-term solutions to the perennial problem. "None of us can do it alone. It is my firm belief that we should move quickly and work together to develop sustainable, home-grown solutions to this crisis."

Kalumbu also commended the efforts of Kenya's public and private sector for their immense contribution to those suffering in various parts of the nation. "Our values and culture have always stressed a responsibility to engage with communities. We recognize that to have a sustainable business, the communities we serve must be sustainable, and we believe we have a role to play in making this happen," Kalumbu says.

A History of Helping in Africa

Earlier this year Coca-Cola donated $32,000 when the Red Cross issued a national drought and emergency appeal in Kenya. But the precedent for coming to Africa's aid goes back much further, and to support those efforts, The Coca-Cola Africa Foundation (TCCAF) was created in 2001. It is the entity that coordinates corporate social investment programs and implements community initiatives in Africa. To date, TCCAF has committed more than $22 million in several humanitarian assistance interventions in 17 African countries, in partnership with four NGOs.

The Coca-Cola Africa Foundation’s signature community initiative is the Replenish Africa Initiative (RAIN). Launched in 2009, RAIN is a public-private partnership made possible through a six-year, $30 million commitment from The Coca-Cola Company. The initiative will provide sustainable clean water sources, hygiene education and sanitation services to millions of people in Africa.

The Foundation also supports many other community initiatives throughout Africa, including HIV/AIDS and malaria prevention, access to education, job creation and humanitarian assistance.