CBC Vancouver is turning its focus to aid for East Africa, dedicating local programming to the famine and drought ravaging the area, and working with local charities to gather donations.

The United Nations predicts tens of thousands of people have died in what it says is the worst famine in a generation. The World Food Program estimated 11.3 million people across East Africa urgently need food aid and medical supplies.

Groups like Oxfam and the Red Cross are working to deliver aid and supplies to the regions hardest hit. However, the vast majority of Somalis are cut off from emergency aid because the UN World Food Program has not been able to deliver supplies to militant-controlled areas.

On Wednesday, CBC Vancouver is pitching in to help the relief efforts.

Local representatives from relief organizations will be in the main lobby of the CBC building in downtown Vancouver, at the corner of Hamilton and Georgia streets, from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. PT accepting donations.   CBC Radio One and CBC Television will also feature special programming about the famine, including:

  • On the Early Edition: CBC Senior Correspondent Brian Stewart, who covered the Ethiopian famine in 1984 and has been watching the situation in Somali unfold; CBC reporter Curt Petrovich on his recent experience in Kenya; Adan Sallow, a Somali-Canadian who works with immigrants and refugees; and Aweis Issa, a Somali-Canadian who is teaching in Somalia. 
  • On B.C Almanac: a Canadian staff worker with UNICEF in Dadaab will talk about how the crisis is impacting children.
  • On All Points West and On The Coast: Hibaq Farah, a Somali-Canadian woman who fled in the 1990s, shares her experience; and a look at how politics has exacerbated the issue with Stephen Owen, who has worked in Sub-Saharan Africa since the 1970s.

Anyone who is unable to make it to the CBC Vancouver building on Wednesday is encouraged to donate to the Oxfam East Africa food crisis fund online or by phone at 1-800-466-9326; or the Canadian Red Cross Horn of Africa drought fund online or by phone at 1-800-418-1111.