Villagers fetch water from a water point constructed through a Caritas cash for work program. Credits: Caritas Ethiopia

Villagers fetch water from a water point constructed through a Caritas cash for work program.
Credits: Caritas Ethiopia

Caritas is launching a new appeal to continue its lifesaving work in drought-stricken areas of Ethiopia. Its programmes will help farmers and herders produce more food, and will also improve water systems and infrastructure in remote areas.

“The drought was at its worst in 2011, and its effects are still being felt in some parts of the country,” says Shiferaw Mamo, Social Development Programme Coordinator of the Ethiopian Catholic Secretariat (Caritas Ethiopia). “We can’t let up our efforts now.”

The belg (small) rains expected in the first half of 2012 were poor, resulting in ongoing food problems in many farming areas. The government of Ethiopia recently indicated that approximately 3.76 million people require food assistance from August to December 2012.

Caritas’ new programme, which is targeting more than 60,000 families, will give sheep, goats, cattle, bee colonies and chickens to families who lost livestock during the drought. To conserve the limited water available, Caritas will build dams and cisterns, dig wells, and rehabilitate other water systems. Farmers will receive seeds and saplings for their fields as well as forage cuttings to grow grass for their animals. Caritas will also improve access in rural areas by building roads.

In 2011, during the drought relief programme’s first phase, Caritas trucked in water and emergency food rations. Working with dioceses, Caritas dug wells, restocked herds, and trained farmers in ways to conserve water for crops. By providing employment to villagers who worked on community infrastructure like dams, Caritas prevented hunger and mass migration. To make sure children continued coming to school and were not too hungry to study, Caritas funded hot meals and the distribution of high-nutrient biscuits in schools. Altogether, Caritas helped over 270,000 people who were impacted by the drought.

Today, Caritas is appealing for €2,479,186 so it can continue helping families in need. “Even though the Horn of Africa is not in the news these days, many people are still suffering,” says Michel Roy, Secretary General of Caritas Internationalis. “It’s critical that we not forget our brothers and sisters there.”

Pllease call Laura Sheahen on 0039 334 2344136 or 0039 06 698 797 55 or email sheahen@caritas.va