Hunger spreading in West Africa’s Sahel

By |31 March 2010|

Over 800,000 children are at risk as malnutrition increases across Niger, Chad, Mali, Burkina Faso, and Mauritania in West Africa. We asked Fr. Isidore Ouédraogo, the Secretary General of Caritas Burkina Faso (OCADES) about the food crisis.

Q : The Sahel region in West Africa is facing a serious food crisis. How is the situation in Burkina Faso? 

Fr. Isidore Ouédraogo: It is less serious than in Niger, but we still have to monitor things closely. The 2009 harvest was bad, in particular because floods hit several regions of Burkina Faso. The floods weakened the economy in general, a lot of people had to sell all their grains. With several food crises in the last years, more and more people are living in poverty. Grains and livestock function like the household’s bank account in many Burkinabe families. They are the savings that allow them to pay for a sick parent, finance the […]

On the menu for children in Haiti

By |12 March 2010|

The risks to children following Haiti’s earthquake include not only trafficking but also hunger. Up to 24 percent of children under five suffer from chronic malnutrition in Haiti. In poorer areas, this figure is even greater.

One of Caritas’ priorities in the earthquake’s aftermath has been to supply regular food to the survivors. So far, Caritas has provided 600,000 people with food.

The Sainte Marie community in Port-au-Prince is one of the places Caritas has been giving out food to children. Today they are waiting for a hot meal consisting of rice, beans and meat.

“Until two weeks ago, I didn’t used to eat regular meals,” says Géraldine, 14. “Now the food distributions have started in the community, my parents are reassured because they know I’ll eat at least once a day.”

Over 5000 people have taken refuge in the Sainte Marie community in search of food and shelter. In collaboration with the […]

Food emergency in South Sudan

By |1 March 2010|

Over 1.5 million people in South Sudan are facing a widespread food emergency caused by droughts and conflict. Caritas is appealing for US$ 3,4 million (EUR 2,3 million) to give vital food aid in Western and Eastern Equatoria states.

South Sudan is one of the poorest, most underdeveloped countries in the world with 16 percent of the people malnourished, nine out of ten people living on less than $1 a day, and the highest maternal mortality rate in the world. On top of the daily struggle to live, drought and conflict have pushed already poor communities into desperation.

Suffering on two fronts 
Dry spells have compounded hailed harvest in 2008 and 2009 inEastern Equatoria. Many areas will not expect a harvest now until mid-2010. Over a 800,000 people are in need.

Conflict in Western Equatoria has rapidly spiraled after the arrival of a militia called the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) late last year. As many […]

Why does West Africa face another food crisis?

By |19 February 2010|

Food emergencies are not inevitable in the Sahel according to Caritas. The region and the international community need to show greater political will to fight the problems.

“The recurrent food crises are essentially a political problem, worsened of course by droughts and difficult natural conditions “, said Fr. Ambroise Tine, Secretary General of Caritas Senegal.

The Sahel could face a devastating food crisis this year. Millions are at risk of famine and malnutrition in West Africa, especially in Niger, Chad, northern Burkina Faso and northern Nigeria.

Experts believe that the coming emergency could be particularly serious, mostly because of the bad harvest and floods in several countries last year.

“The governments of the Sahel countries are not doing enough to fight the problems, especially the lack of water supply and price speculations on the markets. Competition caused by massive agriculture subsidies in developed countries only worsens our problems”, said Fr. Tine.

At the end […]

Zimbabwe: “The food is finished”

By |2 February 2010|

In the gentle warmth of a mid-winter African sun, Moffat Mpofu seeks shade beside his small thatched hut. Beside him his wife Sarah stretches out on a thin grass mat, their youngest daughter resting quietly across her knees. But the peaceful scene hides a distressing story.

Mr Mpofu, 49, tested positive for HIV in December 2008, and has since been struggling with his health. In impoverished southern Zimbabwe, poor health means no work and no pay, and no pay means lean times for Mpofu’s family. With six of his seven children still living at home Mr Mpofu says it has been difficult.

“I haven’t been feeling well for quite some time so I haven’t been able to save much money,” Mpofu said.

When in good health he manages to earn some income thatching the roofs of local huts, charging between 200 and 300 rand – about $25 to US$37 per hut. Providing […]

Children abandoned in Zimbabwe’s economic crisis

By |2 February 2010|

While Elvis Presley was famous for his fried peanut butter sandwiches and his voracious appetite, Elvis Ncube in Zimbabwe is lucky if he gets a daily meal of porridge and beans.

Elvis’ mother left for Botswana for a short period to find work in 2005, but she never returned. Life in Madabe village, southern Zimbabwe, is tough for Elvis, 23, and his sister Edita, 19.

“I am in charge of the household, so I can’t get work when I’m looking after the children,” says Elvis.

Up to one quarter of Zimbabwe’s children are said to be orphans. The AIDS crisis is mainly to blame for robbing families of the parents and leaving children in the care of grandparents – or alone to fend for themselves.

But with the deepening economic and food crises, children are increasingly left behind as their parents go to search for work abroad. The challenges the sons and daughters […]

Hunger the real homework

By |2 February 2010|

Widespread hunger in rural Zimbabwe means that Kembo Ndlovu, head of Lupaka primary school, doesn’t just have to worry about nourishing his pupils’ minds, but also their bodies.

Children who don’t get enough food at home, won’t have the energy to go to school and if they do, nagging hunger pangs will make it harder for them to learn. The children will also be more exposed to disease and illness, something that could put them in a vulnerable position for life.

“Hunger is counterproductive,” says Ndlovu. “I understand in previous years the pass rate used to be high, but now it has gone down.” Having suffered a devastating economic meltdown in recent years, many of Zimbabwe’s 11 million population are struggling to keep afloat. Nowhere is the scale of this crisis more evident than in rural areas like those around Lupaka, where residents struggle even to feed their families, let alone […]

Working Together to Save Lives in Darfur

By |22 December 2009|

Christian Churches from all over the world are working together to save the lives of people affected by conflict in Darfur.

A joint programme involving ACT (Action by Churches Together), a global alliance of churches and related agencies working in the field of humanitarian relief, and Caritas Internationalis has been providing essential life-saving services such as clean water, food and health care to 300,000 people living in camps, and surrounding villages, in South and West Darfur.

Nyika Musiyazwiriyo, the outgoing Head of Programmes for the Joint ACT/Caritas Programme in Darfur, says being able to work together has meant the ACT/Caritas Programme has become one of the biggest players among UN and other humanitarian actors in the conflict-affected region of Sudan.

“One of our key strengths is being able to draw on each others’ experiences, knowledge, and resources” Nyika explains.

As such, the Programme has been able to provide clean drinking water to nearly […]

Zimbabwe: No country for old men

By |2 September 2009|

Until recently, wheelbarrows in Zimbabwe were used to ferry about huge amounts of cash to buy basic food stuffs. The economy was crumbling and hyperinflation meant that even though people were suddenly millionaires, all they could afford was a loaf of bread.

Then, as a cholera epidemic swept the country they were used to carry the frail and the dying to hospital. But as drought cracks the earth and leaves grain stores empty, one thing wheelbarrows aren’t being used for is farming.

“We are hunger stricken. We have nothing to eat,” says Privilege Makerele, a village group representative in rural Zimbabwe.

April is traditionally harvest time in Zimbabwe. But this year, lack of rain has meant that food production will be below national requirements.

“I’ve just returned from Zimbabwe. Corn fields were bare and medical centres were empty,” says Fr Pierre Cibambo, Africa Liaison Officer for Caritas Internationalis. “Vulnerable people such as children, […]

Zimbabwe’s hunger

By |2 September 2009|

Children in Zimbabwe are fainting at school from hunger – well at least in the schools where there are teachers. The cost of travelling to their job and buying lunch is often too much for their small salaries.

Changing women’s lives in Chad

By |3 November 2008|

By Antoine Adoum Goulgué, SECADEV for Caritas

The Al-Nadjah centre is a handsome building in the Chadian town of Adré, about 5 km from the border with Sudan’s troubled Darfur region.

With finanancial and technical support from Caritas, the centre provides training for local women, a nursery school, and a playground.

The 235 beneficiaries in Al-Nadjah Centre are women, with a special focus on unmarried mothers and girls withdrawn from school.

Young mothers are often abandoned by their families and by the father if their child is born outside of marriage. Caritas provides them with support through the centre.

Traditional beliefs force girls to abandon schooling as soon as they reach age of puberty (from 10 to 12 years old). Lacking opportunities provided by schooling, these girls go to the centre in order to learn knitting and food production.

But the centre also helps any woman who faces the challenges of providing for her family […]

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    Fighting Kala-azar: Caritas Somalia Health Centre changes lives in Baidoa

Fighting Kala-azar: Caritas Somalia Health Centre changes lives in Baidoa

By |3 September 2008|

by David Omwoyo

Seated outside the Caritas health centre in Baidoa, Mama Habibo Salad Habibo waits for help. After walking more than 18 km from her home with her two young children, she is glad that her sick child will finally get treatment.
Hawo Salad, her two-year-old daughter looks emaciated and sleepy. Yet her stomach is swollen, leaving the impression of a child overfed. But the wounds on her belly, visible ribs, tiny legs and hands speak otherwise.
“It was her father,” Habibo says pointing at the wounds, “he was treating her stomach problem by placing a hot iron on it. When she did not recover after four weeks, I decided to bring her to this centre.”
Caritas Nurse Abdullahi Mumin explained that it is a tradition among Somalis to treat all stomach ailments by placing a hot iron or smouldering embers on the belly. He himself has scars on his stomach inflicted […]

Hunger and HIV

By |16 August 2008|

“People know that HIV will kill them within months, but hunger might kill them by the end of the week,” said Dr John Mundi Amolo as he makes his tour of the HIV and AIDS patients admitted to Mutomo Hospital in Kenya. “If someone has only 50 bob [35 pence], then they would rather buy food than get drugs for their HIV. They have no choice.”

Mutomo Hospital is in the Kitui district, which has been hit hard by years of drought. Rivers have dried up, crops destroyed, and the people worn down by hunger. Among the most affected have been those with HIV and AIDS. Although life-saving drugs are cheap and available, the small food and medical costs necessary to be able to take them are often too much.

“The anti-AIDS drugs don’t work well without good nutrition,” said the doctor. “People have not been eating day after day. Taking […]

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