December 15, 2011

Kenyan students back to school after East Africa drought

By |15 December 2011|

By Laura Sheahen Alice had always been first in her class as a child, but now she kept getting kicked out of secondary school. “Every time people were sent home for lack of school fees, my name was on the list,” she says. “I was ashamed.” Education in Kenya is technically free, but in poor villages, parents are required to give a few dollars a month to pay teachers or even fix the school roof. So Alice would leave classes for a few weeks until her farming family could scrape together enough money to send her back. Then she’d struggle to catch up. “I had to work harder,” she remembers. “I didn’t sleep very much.” In fits and starts, she managed what seemed to be impossible for a village child whose parents never went to school: she was accepted into a university. “I studied organic chemistry and math,” she says. “I tested organic [...]

Kenya: When drought pits neighbour against neighbour

By |15 December 2011|

As the drought worsened in summer 2011, Caritas distributed emergency food and water in many areas of Kenya, Ethiopia, and neighbouring countries. Caritas also developed water projects that brought together people from previously warring tribes.

East Africa after the Food Crisis

By |15 December 2011|

Your support helped over one million people in East Africa overcome their worst drought in 60 years. You made it possible for Caritas to distribute emergency food, create water projects, and give out seeds so farmers can rebuild. In November 2011, Caritas Communications Officer Laura Sheahen visited Kenya to see the community response in action. Explore the features below to find out how your support made a difference. When drought pits neighbour against neighbour “Herdsmen came here looking for pasture,” says Mwinzi Munyoki Tutu, a young farmer in southern Kenya. “We refused.” ‘You heard our cries’: hunger in East Africa “I met a woman who was crying because she couldn’t remember the last time she had seen so much food.” Seeds of hope after drought “When you’re hungry, if you have seeds, you start cooking.” Kotola Susana grins ruefully as he describes the situation of many of his fellow Kenyan farmers. Kenyan students back to school Alice had [...]

Photo gallery: fighting hunger in East Africa

By |15 December 2011|

“Mothers said their children were too weak to walk to the clinic,” says a nurse who treated malnourished people in northern Kenya during the worst of 2011’s drought. Throughout East Africa, poor rains led to hunger on a massive scale. By late 2011, your gifts had turned things around. Caritas immediately distributed emergency food, but also set up long-term projects that help villagers capture water and raise food even in drought times. Explore this gallery of photos from Kenya to see how you helped. Photos by Laura Sheahen/Caritas

October 12, 2011

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    East Africa food crisis a ‘tragedy of biblical proportions’

East Africa food crisis a ‘tragedy of biblical proportions’

By |12 October 2011|

Church and Caritas leaders discuss East Africa food crisis

By |7 October 2011|

Q and A Horn of Africa

By |6 October 2011|

What is the humanitarian situation in the Horn of Africa?  In Kenya, Ethiopia, Somalia, and nearby areas, a severe drought has led to massive numbers of people going hungry. Famine has been declared in several districts of Somalia. Because goats and cattle are dying of thirst and starvation, people who herd livestock are losing their source of food. Hundreds of thousands of children are malnourished. The extreme weather has dried up crops, as well as rivers and other water sources. These losses come at a time when farming households’ food supplies are already extremely low, as they wait for their mid-year harvest to mature--if they were able to plant crops or have not used the seeds to feed their families. Sharply rising food prices--caused not only by the drought but by world economic conditions--have affected many impoverished people in the region, including those in towns and cities. What are people doing to cope?  Hundreds [...]

September 15, 2011

Slum fire in Kenya puts focus on social injustice

By |15 September 2011|

Caritas Kenya is supporting survivors of a huge fire that devastated the Sinai slums in the Kenyan capital Nairobi on 12 September. Over a hundred people were killed and a hundred more injured after a pipeline burst and leaked fuel into the Ngong river, which passes through this slum area. Kenya Pipeline Company  managing director Selest Kilinda blamed a faulty valve. People from the densely populated shanties had already started siphoning the fuel when the fire started. People cooking close to the pipeline may have sparked off the inferno. A group of Caritas staff members and church leaders visited the site of the disaster and met with survivors in a temporary camp and those with serious burn injuries in the hospital. The camp hosts about 200 men, women and children. Caritas Kenya jointly with Caritas Nairobi donated food items, blankets and mosquito on 14 September in the camp. Rt. Rev. Martin Kivuva, Bishop Chairman [...]

August 12, 2011

Caritas launches Kenya emergency appeal

By |12 August 2011|

Caritas is appealing for 4 million euro (US$5.6 million) to help Kenya during its most severe drought in 60 years. Over 3.6 million people are in need of emergency assistance but this could rise to 5 million as the situation worsens. Caritas will provide food and water and will also help farmers improve their crops and boost their livestock. Alistair Dutton, Caritas Internationalis humanitarian director recently returned from a trip to Kenya and Ethiopia. He said, “People are very concerned about where they are going to get food and water from and also how they are going to provide water for their livestock. Short of migration, they have very limited options.” Caritas will support 30,420 households in the 14 most affected dioceses of Kenya in its the eight- month emergency programme. This will include providing many households with two meals a day, 7.5 litres of safe water per person per day and [...]

Caritas dam protects Kenyans against drought

By |8 August 2011|

By David Snyder  As if the cracked earthen floor of the Kwa Kivanga dam is not reminder enough of the drought gripping Kenya, the long waits for water make memories of last year’s plenty that much more painful. Just one year ago, this pond in Kenya’s drought-stricken Eastern Province helped feed a nearby borehole with so much clean water that local residents could fetch all they could carry – a memory local resident Daniel Motiso cannot help but smile at now. “We had a pump but it wasn’t producing much water. We could only get one jerry can each day because we limited the water,” Motiso said of the days before the dam was built. “After the dam we could get four cans.” Built by Caritas Kenya as part of the Katangi Food Security Project in 2008, the Kwa Kivanga dam has been a huge success. Here in the village of Kalele [...]

July 28, 2011

Hunger in Kenya and how to stop it

By |28 July 2011|

The land is barren, the animals are dead, the people are starving. This is one face of northern Kenya in July 2011. “The famine started last year,” says Ellela from the village of Lokitaung. “There were no rains last year or this year. We have had drought for two years. If there are no people with the good heart to help us we will die.” On a recent trip to Kenya, Eoghan Rice from Trócaire (Caritas Ireland) reported seeing malnourished children waiting at clinics for emergency treatment, adults who were just skin and bone and the carcasses of livestock littering the scorched and lifeless ground. “I have not had a proper meal in seven days,” said Locheramoe Kuwom. “I had nothing yesterday except for tea. The day before I had a bit of palm fruit. There is a lot of hunger here. If this situation goes on, most of the people who [...]

Yes, we must. Stopping a disaster in Kenya

By |27 July 2011|

By Eoghan Rice The Turkana district of northern Kenya is where human life began. The earliest known human remains have been found here and in the areas just north across the Ethiopian border. The fact that human life has been sustained here for hundreds of thousands of years points to a fertile land capable of producing food. So, what has changed? In a word: climate. The facts speak for themselves: a two degree rise in temperature since 1960; the last eight years being the hottest on record; a 25 per cent decrease in rainfall over 10 years. East Africa can produce food to sustain its population but the goalposts have been moved on it. Today, the Turkana lands are dry and dusty as far as the eye can see. Every river on the 230km drive from Lodwar to  Lokitaung has dried-up. Where rivers once flowed, there are now dusty valleys. On the land which was once [...]

Fleeing Somalia: the men who kill for goats

By |27 July 2011|

By Laura Sheahen “Aden, my oldest son, was four years old. He was watching our goats,” says Ahada, a Somali woman in her early twenties. “Men with guns came and wanted the animals. Aden shouted, ‘Don’t take our goats!’” Ahada’s small son was caught in the midst of the chaotic, seemingly never-ending war in Somalia. Armed bandits, militias and other violent groups terrorize the country’s rural population, who are mostly nomadic herdsmen. Children are not spared. Aden wasn’t. Aden was shot and killed in the midst of a drought that was leading to famine. Ahada’s husband was also killed by militants. After that she knew she had to flee. She’d heard of a country called Kenya, so she took her two children there, crossing the border. Thousands of other mothers were making the journey as well. Thirty-year-old Hawa, a mother of seven, was eight months pregnant as she walked for ten days, carrying [...]

Somalis face perilous journey to escape famine

By |25 July 2011|

By Laura Sheahen, Death by starvation, death by lions and hyenas or death by armed bandits. Which do you pick? For refugees streaming out of Somalia, there’s no luxury of choice. They’re facing all three. Carrying babies in front and toddlers piggyback, clutching small plastic bags of belongings, thousands of Somalis are trudging barefoot for dozens or hundreds of miles. For months, as no rains fell in their homeland, they watched their cattle and goats die of thirst and hunger. Their stocks of corn or flour ran out, and they watched their children growing thinner and weaker. Finally, they gave up hoping that something would change and they left. They travel in groups of about 50 because danger is all around them: ambushes by men with guns are common in the area. So when they see something threatening in the distance, they run for what cover they can find—not easy in empty [...]

Fleeing Somalia as famine declared

By |21 July 2011|

By Laura Sheahen They’ve walked for days or weeks, and their shoes show it. Dusty and worn, the sandals of a little boy dangle in his hand as he wails in the centre of a refugee camp. Nearby, his mother rocks her sobbing baby. The family has made it to the camp, one of several in northeast Kenya that are receiving a flood of refugees from Somalia. “We had livestock like sheep, goats, and cattle-over a dozen,” says a 22-year-old mother named Momina. “They all died of the drought.” “We used to eat corn,” she continues. “But food was running out. So we left.” Walking in a group of about 20 people, it took Momina 20 days to get from her home in Somalia to the Kenyan camp. They slept under the stars, ate whatever they had left, and managed to avoid attacks-by wild animals and by the bandits that plague the area. Over 1,000 [...]