February 27, 2012

A future for Congo’s women

By |27 February 2012|

"Karibu, welcome," said Adèle. She and a dozen other women are hard at work in a field beside the Goma to Rutshuru Road in North Kivu, eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. Adèle is an agronomist and also heads three associations supported by a Caritas project to rehabilitate women war victims. "We've planted peanut seeds and we're in the process of taking out the weeds so they don't overrun the place," she said. "When Caritas launched the project, 60 women were involved. We were given peanut, bean and pea seeds. After the first harvests we bought some maize seeds. Look at what they’ve turned into. We have two hectares of fine maize that we'll soon be able to harvest." Marie-José is one of the women who have benefited. “When I joined the association, I wasn't in very good shape,” she said. “My husband had been killed and all our property had been [...]

December 23, 2011

Quenching the rice fields’ thirst in Haiti

By |23 December 2011|

Fednor, a farmer, is preparing what will soon be the main source of food for his family – a rice field. In Joque, in the province of Les Cayes, rice growing is the most common agricultural activity. The rice fields extend along each side of the road and provide a living for the majority of households in the area. There's no machinery here; everything is done by hand. Fednor is up to his knees in mud. Equipped with an old spade, he's digging the rice field and hopes to see a crop growing soon that will enable him to feed his family and earn a little money. He's surrounded by other busy members of the community. Men and women are all working together on building a project that will change their lives. A break is arranged to meet the community and get an idea of what they're doing. "Without water there's no [...]
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    In southern Haiti mothers are at the heart of development strategy

In southern Haiti mothers are at the heart of development strategy

By |23 December 2011|

Food security, especially that of children, is a major problem in Haiti. Caritas has put in place various initiatives in the province of Les Cayes in southern Haiti to deal with this issue. With the help of CRS, the local Caritas has set up more than 200 mothers groups. What's a mothers group? "As the name suggests, it's a group of mothers from a particular district with whom local Caritas workers develop activities in order to improve families' food security and living conditions," explains Jean Harry Dominique, the CRS agricultural projects coordinator for the region. To get a better idea, we joined him on a field trip to Roche-à-Bateau. Mutual financial assistance "I'd like to set up a small business selling rice, flour an sugar. The last time I made a decent profit. I've asked for 1,000 gourdes (US$25) to buy products." Ariette Tessono is speaking. She belongs to a mothers group [...]

Durban talks: Climate justice and food security

By |12 December 2011|

By Martina Liebsch, Director of Poverty and Advocacy at Caritas Internationalis Representatives from different faiths gathered at a ‘Climate Justice and Food Security: Moral, ethical and spiritual imperatives’ side event 7 December at the Durban climate change talks. The event was sponsored by Caritas Internationalis and World Council of Churches. The panel was chaired by Cardinal Wilfrid Napier of Durban and included Protestant, Catholic, Jewish, Hindu and Muslim representatives. Reverend Mardi Tendal, of the United Church of Canada, said we should work towards transforming cultures of consumption to cultures of responsibility. She said there is a moral imperative for action and solidarity in reducing the adverse effects of climate change. Rabbi Hillel Avidan from Durban said God maintains the creation, but gives us the responsibility to care for it. We have failed to do so and we have recognised it. “Change does not happen through treaties and conventions, but by bringing in compassion and [...]

October 17, 2011

World Food Day: Calling for action against hunger at FAO

By |17 October 2011|

By Martina Liebsch, Caritas Internationalis Policy Director I listened to Didi Bridgewater, walked past Claudia Cardinale, stood next to Jeremy Irons, saw Carl Lewis and took the elevator with Carla Fracci. What do you want more for a day? But where is the connection to food? All these celebrities are good-will ambassadors for the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO). They were calling for a greater commitment in the fight against hunger at a meeting to mark World Food Day today in Rome. Government representatives and NGO’s were gathered in the plenary hall at the FAO offices in Rome and along with the directors of FAO and the other UN food agencies WFP and IFAD. The message from Pope Benedict XVI was delivered by Archbishop Luigi Travaglino, Permanent Observer of the Holy See to FAO: “Many of our brothers and sisters do not have daily bread. The freedom from the […]

In Ethiopia, intensive care for cattle

By |13 October 2011|

By Val Morgan, Media Officer for SCIAF On some days in the field, I almost despair. It was a red-hot morning and we drove two hours to see a cattle feeding centre and destocking programme in Miyo, a village in southern Ethiopia. The more we drove the drier the landscape became until eventually it was totally barren, just dust and stones. As we arrived at our destination on the top of a hill there were panoramic views all around us. I was told that three years ago this area used to be a vibrant area for farmers and herders with crops and precious grassland on the hills all around me. Now there was nothing. We met our local guide, a young man from our partner, GPDI. He started by telling us about the animal feeding centre which SCIAF (Caritas Scotland) is supporting. It may seem strange to be feeding animals […]

August 12, 2011

Rain only part of the solution for East Africa drought

By |12 August 2011|

Caritas Internationalis humanitarian director Alistair Dutton explains why Caritas has a big focus on harvesting and storing water in drought-hit East Africa.  The simple answer to a drought should be for it to rain lots. The crops would grow, the animals would get fed and people would know where their next meal and drink would be coming from. People are desperate for rain in East Africa where up to 13 million people need emergency assistance because of one of the worst droughts in 60 years. But it’s not the simple solution it seems. Alistair Dutton, humanitarian director for Caritas Internationalis has just returned from a trip to Ethiopia and Kenya. He met with Caritas member organisations working in these countries to discuss the best short- and long-term answers to the devastating hunger crisis caused by the drought. “We went to a village and scores of people were sitting under trees. They had gathered [...]

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 [...]

Planting seeds of recovery after Pakistan’s floods

By |27 July 2011|

Ghulam Akber clutches his bag of cotton seed and knows he is holding his future. The seeds are the key to 22-year-old Ghulam rebuilding his life. More than anything, he needs a new house. But to get a new house, he needs money; to get money, he needs a crop; to get a crop, he needs the seeds. One year ago Ghulam could not have imagined he would be so desperate. His village, located close to Manchar Lake in the Sindh province of Pakistan, was a successful farming village. Each of the 600 residents lived in stone houses. They had land and machinery and a plentiful crop almost ready for harvesting. But then the floods came and destroyed everything. "We were very happy before the floods," he says. "We had houses and our crops were ready for harvest. But then the floods came and we lost everything - the houses, the [...]

Promoting the rights of farmers in Asia

By |20 July 2011|

Caritas Asia members promote organic agriculture and farmers’ rights across the region through the Sustainable Agriculture and Farmers’ Rights (SAFaR) programme. The Farmers’ Conference (FC) is one of the major yearly events of the programme. Here grassroots level farmers gather together, learn and share their concerns and raise their voice to protect their rights. We all are being affected by human-made climate change. Farmers are the worst sufferers. The seasons, the time to plant, the time to harvest are changing. Much of the indigenous knowledge of farmers is no longer always applicable. It seems that every year, they lose their yield to floods or storms. The marginal farmers’ become most vulnerable. They become the poorest of the poor. International seeds-marketing has become a life threat to farmers too. Suicide among farmers in some parts of India is a grave concern. Organic farming and community marketing of organic produce can save farmers’ life and livelihood. [...]

Changing lives in Bangladesh

By |20 July 2011|

By Caritas Bangladesh staff  Fishing for crabs in the vast mangrove forest of the Sundarbans in Bangladesh is a dangerous way to make a living. A local poem says you always have a ‘shiver of fear’ as you travel the complex network of waterways, mudflats and small islands because the Royal Bengal Tiger does not work to a ‘timetable’. The Sundarbans, or “beautiful jungle”, is the single largest swathe of mangroves in the world. The coastal mangroves and seasonally-flooded fresh water inland swamp covers 10,000 sq.km. of the Bay of Bengal, half of which are in Bangladesh. They are one of the wonders of nature, home to a diverse eco-system of flora and fauna. They are a source of livelihood for the local people, who catch fish, collect wood, crabs, tiny shrimps and honey there. In the dark forest and canals, however, tigers find it easy to stalk and attack men and [...]

January 24, 2011

The sun also rises in Mongolia

By |24 January 2011|

Growing grains and vegetables is not the main profession of Mongolians and not even a priority for them. The nomadic people prefer keeping herds and love to eat meat. The number of animals is much higher than the number of humans.

Soaring food costs hitting poor from Algeria to India

By |19 January 2011|

Millions of people around the world are struggling to cope with rising food prices say Caritas staff. “The price rises in India usually affect the poorest people, but they are now so steep that the middle class is hit hard as well,” said Sunil Simon, in charge of natural resource management at Caritas India. The FAO (the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation) food price index has surpassed the level it reached during the major food riots of 2008. After a year of steady increases, the index reached 214,7 points in December, compared to 206 points in November. What worries Caritas experts is that the index exceeded the level it had attained in 2008, a year of severe food crises and food riots in many developing countries. As one out of six people in the world already suffer from hunger, rising food prices make it even more difficult for poor people to buy [...]

October 14, 2010

World Food Day: One in six people go hungry

By |14 October 2010|

“We urgently need to concentrate on rehabilitation and prevention to stop more crises in the next years”, said Raymond Younoussi Yoro, Secretary General of Caritas Niger. Niger was hit by a major food crisis this year that affected around 60% of the population. It’s one of the many countries around the world where starvation is endemic. One in six people will go hungry on World Food Day 16 October and on every other day too. Caritas says urgent action is needed for the 925 million people still suffering from hunger. The first Millennium Development Goal is to cut by half the number of hungry people by 2015. The international community has committed to achieving these goals, but it seems less likely that they will be met. The MDG on poverty, if it is achieved, can only be a first target. Caritas has a vision of zero poverty. No one should be denied the right to food [...]

June 23, 2010

A desert garden in Chad

By |23 June 2010|

Granite hills mark the horizon. The ground is carpeted with rocks. Apart from the dried up river beds (ouaddis) there is nowhere for vegetation to grow. Thorny shrubs are the only desert plant life. Nature is hostile in Eastern Chad. “Annual rainfall normally varies from 300 to 500 mm,” said Adoumadji, an agricultural technician working for SECADEV (Caritas Chad). “Less than 300 mm of rain fell last season. Crops dried up before they could yield anything.” Yassine Ibrahim harvested less than four sacks of millet this season, compared to previous years when he produced 23 sacks. “The little harvest I have got is finished and I am obliged to sell my cattle to feed my family,”he said. Extra demand means prices for cereals have risen so high they are unaffordable for most people. SECADEV supports community granaries in twenty villages. Residents share the food when prices are peaking, then top up the [...]

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