West Africa’s food crisis at a glance

By |28 March 2012|

What is the humanitarian situation in West Africa’s Sahel region? More than 12 million people will face acute food shortages in the Sahel region of West Africa unless early and effective action is taken now to prevent the crisis. People in Niger, Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso and Chad are already suffering from a lack of food with the ‘lean’ season still to come. In the worst affected areas, people have already started to ration food to one meal a day, sell off cattle or leave their farms for urban centres. We must not wait until there are images of starving children on our TV screens. By acting now we can ensure the food crisis does not deteriorate. What has led to a food crisis in West Africa? Poor rains and drought last year and pest infestation means this year’s harvest will not produce enough food. A spike in regional food prices has left people [...]

Helping Niger prepare for food crisis

By |27 March 2012|

The crisis is threatening the Sahel region of Africa—the band of land below the Sahara desert, extending from Senegal to Chad. In a normal year, the Sahel receives on average as little as 78 to 236 inches of rain. Last year’s rains were poor and the harvests bad or non-existent.

Niger: the worst food crisis we can remember

By |15 March 2012|

In a normal year, the harvest in November would produce enough food for the people in the village to last all year. But the harvest last year was disastrous, and people in Mintou’s village have already run out of food.

Averting crisis in West Africa’s Sahel

By |14 February 2012|

Zaki can’t afford to feed his family this year. He’s a young teacher in Burkina Faso. It’s one of a string of West African countries where food is getting scarce. The price of corn has increased so much Zaki can’t afford to buy it. His family must rely on their reserves of rice, but supplies dwindle each day.

Radio interview: Kenya food crisis

By |20 January 2012|

While Caritas and other aid agencies have helped millions of East Africans through the worst of the region’s food crisis, more remains to be done. Susan Hodges of Vatican Radio interviews Caritas’ Laura Sheahen about her visit to Caritas projects in Kenya--and about the ongoing impact of the 2011 drought. Listen to the interview

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

No Plan B in Ethiopia

By |20 October 2011|

The food crisis in East Africa hit the headlines over the summer. Resources were mobilised around the world to support communities in need as drought in Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia put millions of people in peril. Val Morgan of SCIAF (Caritas Scotland) reports from southern Ethiopia that although the news attention may have moved on, the suffering remains. By Val Morgan What it is like to be hungry and facing a slow death by starvation? What it is like to see our family’s assets disappear, our children lose weight and our spouse join us in worrying how bad the future might just get? In early October 2011, I was brought a bit closer to these realities when I visited southern Ethiopia. The situation is truly desperate. People are going hungry, cattle are dying in large numbers, water sources and grazing land have all but disappeared, and the people don’t know […]

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 […]

Church and Caritas leaders discuss East Africa food crisis

By |7 October 2011|

“He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside still waters.” It’s a phrase known to Christians around the world, one of the most beloved verses of a beloved psalm. It was the psalm Pope Benedict XVI referred to during his weekly audience Wednesday 5 October which ended with an appeal to the world not to forget East Africa,  where drought has turn green pastures brown and made water scarce. Crops have failed; herdsmen have watched  their goats and cattle grow thinner and die. Tens of thousands of families walked for weeks to reach refugee camps, or anywhere with water.

Six million people need help in North Korea

By |12 August 2011|

by Fr Simeon Lee, Executive Director of Caritas (South)Korea  I’m visiting North Korea to follow up on 100 tonnes of flour we delivered at the end of July and to talk with our North Korean counterparts. The flour is currently being distributed to nurseries and hospitals in Gangnam County in North Hwanghae. While it isn’t a lot compared to the need, we expect that this food assistance will give hope to the children and the sick. We hope that our heartfelt support can console people and make them understand that someone is accompanying them. The money for the flour was raised at a “Mass for Peace” in Imjingak, South Korea, in June. The event was organised by the Committee for National Reconciliation and Caritas Korea was very involved in the process. Afterwards we received the funds collected during the Mass. Caritas Korea focuses its work mainly of food assistance but in May [...]

Caritas project brings water to drought-stricken community in Ethiopia

By |3 August 2011|

By David Snyder  His thinning white hair dyed orange in the traditional local style, Aden Esse Kan stands amid the swirling dust clouds of eastern Ethiopia, eager to talk about the drought that now plagues this region. An elder in the village of Togo Wuchale, a dusty half hour drive from the town of Jijiga, Kan summarises the problems facing his community, “The drought affects us in two ways – our people and our livestock,” Kan said. “There is no rain at all so we don’t have anything to eat.” Today across much of Ethiopia, where as many as 11 million people are in need of food aid, that is a distressingly common refrain. For traditional pastoralists like those from the Jijiga region, just sixty kilometers from the border with Somalia, the drought has devastated local grazing land, forcing many in the village of Togo Wuchale to drive their thinning herds further [...]

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 [...]

Ethiopia’s failing rains

By |27 July 2011|

By David Snyder You are not expecting rain when you come to cover a drought. But that’s what I found when I stepped off of the plane here Sunday—and what I have seen each day since. Rain. Looking around at the green of the hillsides, you could easily be fooled about the real problems facing the people here. But it doesn’t take much digging to learn how much trouble looms, where the rain now falling comes far too late to avert a crisis for as more than 11 million people. I spent yesterday visiting several projects around  Dira Dawa A, a zone of eastern Ethiopia that has been hard hit by the failure earlier this year of the first of the country’s two rainy seasons. With the failure of the short rains, which normally fall from February to June, millions were unable to gather a harvest. Worse still, they were unable [...]

Helping Ethiopia through drought

By |26 July 2011|

2011 is one of the worst droughts to hit East Africa and the Horn of Africa in living memory, including the east of Ethiopia. The local Caritas there is called the Hararghe Catholic Secretariat. It's part of the national Caritas organisation (the Ethiopian Catholic Secretariat), and is supported by a number of Caritas members from around the world. Because drought is cyclic in this part of Ethiopia, the HCS has been working with the local communities to prepare them for drought. This can mean helping to provide irrigation and plants resistant to drought, insuring there is fresh water to drink and keeping food aid flowing when a crisis hits like now. Caritas Internationalis and one of its US members Catholic Relief Services (CRS) commissioned a photographer David Snyder to visit the Hararghe Catholic Secretariat in Ethiopia. This is a sample of his work. [slideshow]        

Support Caritas