August 3, 2011

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 [...]

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 [...]

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]        

No time to lose says East Africa crisis summit

By |25 July 2011|

Caritas Internationalis Policy Director Martina Liebsch reports on a ministerial level meeting at the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) in Rome about the drought in the Horn of Africa. The outgoing director of Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), Jacques Diouf had called the emergency meeting to address the food crisis in East Africa. The country most affected is Somalia – everyone agreed – but the crisis affects also parts of Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda and has a spillover effect as people from Somalia are forced to migrate in the search of food. Josette Sheeran, Executive Director of the WFP was one of the speakers on the High Level Panel. She had just came back from a visit in Dadaab camp in Kenya, which she described as unacceptable. Many people reach the camp after walking six weeks in search of food. Women had to leave children who were almost dying for the sake [...]

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 [...]

Drought in East Africa: Kenya’s cattle dying

By |12 July 2011|

The rolling mountains in the distance are known locally as Louwa Le Ukinchu, or Cattle Mountains. For generations, people have travelled there to find water and pasture for their animals. But today, the streams that run down Cattle Mountains are dry. Most families in Isiolo, 300 kilometres north of the Kenyan capital Nairobi, are pastoralists: they rely on cattle, goats, sheep, donkeys and camels to make a living. These animals aren’t simply a source of food and milk – they’re living banks, the main assets that people own. When their animals die, as they’ve been doing at an alarming rate, pastoralists don’t have the means to feed their families. The devastating drought that’s hit large parts of northern Kenya has forced pastoralists near Cattle Mountains to travel further than ever before in search of water and pasture to keep their animals alive. The effects are visible in the expansive dry scrublands: [...]

Ending hunger

By |7 July 2011|

Deadly hunger once again stalks Niger. It affects people like Abdoulai and his family in the dry, sandblasted village of Toudoun Jaka. The rain never came here last year; the land cracked and Abdoulai’s fields produced less than a single bag of millet, not enough for his children for a week.

January 19, 2011

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 [...]

December 21, 2010

Education in Haiti – Food for thought

By |21 December 2010|

The afternoon of the Haiti earthquake many children died or were left trapped in collapsed schools. An estimated 90 per cent of schools in Port-au-Prince were damaged or destroyed, leaving around two million children without access to education. Literacy rates in Haiti were already low compared to global standards before the earthquake. The Haitian authorities emphasised that helping children return to school as quickly as possible was a priority. Development and Peace (the Canadian member of the Caritas network) responded quickly to this appeal by supporting several religious communities that run schools and by investing in the rebuilding of schools and in training. “After such a traumatic event, school can be very stabilising for children as it gives them back some sense of normalcy to their lives,” said Danielle Leblanc, Emergency Programs Officer for Development and Peace. “The desire to greet the children back was there, but the walls weren’t and many [...]

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 [...]

July 28, 2010

Niger: Hunger Pains A Nation

By |28 July 2010|

By Lane Hartill, Catholic Relief Services (CRS)  Habsu Boubacar has got used to being hungry. The burning stomach, the blurred vision, the joint pain: Habsu has learned how to work through aches, how to force herself to go on. Growing up in Toudoun Jaka, a sand-blasted village full of skeletal cattle and bone-thin dogs that slink through the sand, Habsu learned how to cope. She learned how to mix water and millet husks—the stuff she normally feeds to the goats and sheep—and make a sludgy drink. She learned how to gulp the brown, gritty stuff so the bitterness doesn't sit too long on her tongue. She got used to the feel of it in her stomach; it fills a space, so she can feed the real food to her four kids. What she hasn't got used to is anza. The plant is “famine food” and only the hungriest donkeys would nibble at it during [...]

Hunger in Niger: Food for a famished nation

By |28 July 2010|

Nigeriens ran out of food months ago, now the situation is desperate. Half of the people in this landlocked West African nation now don’t have enough to eat. People are eating leaves and livestock feed in order to survive. While hunger in Niger is nothing new, this year is particularly bad. Rains failed last year and in some areas, almost nothing was harvested. Nigeriens have been forced to sell off their livestock, basically their “savings”, before the animals die. In the face of this crisis, Caritas is distributing food, putting people to work and helping those in the greatest need. As cattle die and nutritional centres fill up with hungry and sick children, there’s no surer sign that the people of Niger desperately need your help. Read the story of how hunger has taken  hold of the lives of Habsu Boubacar and her four children.  

June 23, 2010

Food for thought in Zimbabwe

By |23 June 2010|

The acute humanitarian crisis in Zimbabwe continued in 2009, with half of the population reliant on food aid to survive.

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