December 15, 2011

Seeds of hope after drought in East Africa

By |15 December 2011|

By Laura Sheahen “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. After years of poor rains culminated in a devastating drought in East Africa, farmers ran out of options. In southern Kenya, where they raise corn, sorghum and other grains, fields were dry and brown. In the north, where most families live off their herds, people watched goats and cows grow rib-thin and die. The drought of 2011 destroyed agricultural and livestock safeguards that millions of East Africans rely on. “People ate up their seeds. The seed banking system had collapsed,” says Shadrack Musyoka, who works for Caritas in a southern farming area called Kitui. “And a lot of seed was wasted when people planted early and the rains didn’t come. “People who were traditionally OK were suddenly not OK.” In an area of northern [...]

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 [...]

November 11, 2011

New homes for Haitians

By |11 November 2011|

Almost two years on from the earthquake of 12 January 2010, more than 600,000 people are still displaced in camps. They live in extremely precarious conditions and their health security is at risk.

September 8, 2011

Flood preparation pays off in Bangladesh

By |8 September 2011|

Monsoon rains in Bangladesh have driven thousands of people from their homes [View our photo gallery]. Caritas Bangladesh is providing food to 70,000 people as well as shelter materials and sanitation. Caritas also plans to run cash- for-work programmes for communities to help repair the damage. We asked them about relief efforts so far. What is the situation in the flood-affected areas?  Poor families dependent on day labour, share cropping, begging and rickshaws have lost their livelihoods. In Khulna in the south, people are still living in the highlands or in schools or they are migrating in search of work. Those who remain catch fish, do odd jobs for low wages, sell cows or their belongings or borrow money at high interest rates. Food, shelter, clothing and medical needs are being met by the government and aid agencies. Many houses are still standing, and people will be able to return in [...]

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 20, 2011

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 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 [...]

Long-term solutions in Haiti

By |7 July 2011|

There is a long-term answer to alleviating poverty: helping people build up resilient livelihoods. Secours Catholique, the French national Caritas, worked with local people to improve their food production, supporting the most vulnerable with food rations so they did not fall back on eating seed stocks. Through food-for-work programmes in Les Cayes in southern Haiti, Secours Catholique helped communities to build flood defences. Now, extreme weather will not carry off their crops, as it has done in other years. A sustainable and safer future has also been the focus in rebuilding houses. “It’s all different now.We are a lot more careful when we build,” said LucienWilner, a carpenter trained and employed by Cordaid, the Caritas member from the Netherlands. “Before the earthquake we did not build in this way, but now we won’t get so many people dying.” Lucien is part of a programme to tackle Haiti’s 50 percent unemployment [...]

June 22, 2011

Prayer and Novena for Republic of South Sudan

By |22 June 2011|

Novena for South Sudan South Sudan emerges as a new nation on 9 July 2011. The Catholic Church in Sudan is inviting all people of goodwill to take part in nine days of prayer for the future of the new state. This novena begins on  June 29, 2011 and ends on July 7, 2011. Day One: Dignity of the Human Person Day Two: Common Good Day Three: Rights and Responsibilities Day Four: Preferential Option for the Poor Day Five: Solidarity Day Six: Integrity of Creation Day Seven: Reconciliation Day Eight: Subsidiarity or Participatory Government Day Nine: Peace Prayer for Republic of South Sudan God of Mercies, We thank you for your great love for us. We ask you to guide all our leaders in the process of nation building. Grant them your wisdom, compassion and fortitude. Loving God, give us courage to reject ethnic resentment as well as ethnic conflicts. Through the intercession of St. Josephine Bakhita, help us to overcome hurt, hostility and bitterness in our hearts so that we become [...]

April 7, 2011

Sudan: Be calm but vigilant…

By |7 April 2011|

Statement from the Sudan Catholic Bishops’ Conference Be calm but vigilant… (1 Peter 5:8) 7th April 2011 We the Sudan Catholic Bishops’ Conference, gathered in Extraordinary Plenary assembly in Juba, South Sudan, from 1st – 7th April 2011, have prayed and reflected together on the situation in our beloved Sudan. Mindful of our responsibility as prophets and shepherds at this crucial time, we offer you these words of encouragement and advice during the Season of Lent as we anticipate the Easter Joy of the Resurrection. In a previous statement, we said, Sudan will never be the same again. This has come to pass in the most concrete way, as we await the formal Declaration of Independence of the South and the formation of two new countries on 9th July 2011. However it is also true in a deeper way. The people of the South have had the opportunity to determine […]

February 24, 2011

New homes for quake survivors in Chile

By |24 February 2011|

Just last week, another 20 families in Curanilahue in Chile could move into their new houses. Providing people who have lost their homes with decent shelter has been a major focus of Caritas’ rehabilitation programmes after the 27 February earthquake. So far, Caritas completed 235 new homes for earthquake victims and repaired or improved 594 homes. "Receiving the keys to our own house is a great joy for us, even greater when you consider that this help has come from so far away. We finally have a decent home! We were waiting for it eagerly after what had happened to us. I thank the team of Caritas and all who helped and are helping us,” said Juana Carrillo, one of the beneficiaries from Curanilahue. In addition to the reconstruction work on houses, Caritas has fitted out 54 toilets in rural areas and delivered 432 household item kits to families who lost all or [...]

Caritas in Chile one year after the earthquake

By |24 February 2011|

One year after a devastating earthquake followed by a tsunami that hit Chile, Caritas is continuing to help thousands of victims rebuild their homes and lives. Altogether, the Caritas response reached more than 800,000 people.

Caritas helps Chile rebuild

By |24 February 2011|

By Lorenzo Figueroa, Secretary General of Caritas Chile  One year on from the earthquake and tsunami the poor are in a more precarious state. Indeed, an official government study reports that today Chile has 500 thousand more poor people as a result of the disaster. Road infrastructure, such as roads and bridges, has been rebuilt. But thousands of Chileans are still living in very poor-quality temporary accommodation, called mediaguas (shacks), in "villages" or camps that are not equipped with adequate services. The process of allocating grants for housing and the building of new homes has been slow, as people have to wait two or three years for more permanent solutions. Rehabilitation of some key services, such as healthcare, is also progressing slowly. For example, people in the Maule region are still being treated in temporary hospitals. The victims have had to deal with being forgotten by society and the authorities, as 2010 was marked [...]

January 5, 2011

Caritas prepares as Côte d’Ivoire on brink

By |5 January 2011|

“The war in Côte d’Ivoire in 2002 triggered a major humanitarian crisis that spread to the neighbouring countries,” said Jean Djoman, Director of Human Development at Caritas Côte d’Ivoire. “The same mistakes must not be repeated now.” Over a hundred and fifty people were killed in the West African country this December after a disputed presidential election in October between the incumbent Laurent Gbagbo and his rival Alassane Ouattara. Caritas says dialogue must be supported otherwise the conflict could turn into a major humanitarian crisis that goes beyond the borders of Côte d’Ivoire. Jean Djoman says mediation from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) is working. “The two opposed camps of Gbagbo and his Ouattara have for the time being stopped their activities and demonstrations,” he said. “The situation is difficult, but we must hope that they can agree on a compromise. The fate of thousands of people depends on [...]

December 21, 2010

Caritas providing long term help to rebuild Haiti

By |21 December 2010|

Close to a year after the earthquake, Caritas relief and reconstruction programmes in Haiti are well-established throughout the country. Caritas will invest more than $217 million in Haiti over a one year period that started in May 2010. This aid will cover further emergency needs caused for example by hurricanes, floods or the cholera epidemic, such as the distribution of hygiene kits and food aid, but also infrastructure and housing projects, education, livelihoods, water, sanitation, capacity building and health programmes. The funds are additional to the roughly $14 million that were spent in the first three months after the disaster for emergency relief efforts and first rehabilitation programmes. As over a million people are still living in camps, shelter remains a major focus of Caritas’ work in Haiti. Activities such as building and repairing houses, ensuring earthquake-resistant construction norms, training work force in the construction sector and providing building materials to earthquake victims make [...]

October 14, 2010

Take action now to prevent new food crises in Niger

By |14 October 2010|

The food situation has been stabilised in the Sahel region, especially in Niger where the number of people at risk of malnutrition fell from more than 60% to around 6% over the last months. Now, it is crucial to take further action at this point, says Raymond Younoussi Yoro, Secretary General of Caritas Niger. How is currently the situation in terms of food security in Niger?  Mr. Yoro: There has been considerable improvement in the food security over the last months. According to recent statistics, there are now 68 vulnerable areas in Niger, and only 11 in a critical state, compared to 211 vulnerable areas in December 2009. We are optimistic considering the upcoming harvest. It should be quite good. However, 6 percent of the population remain at risk, especially in some regions in southern Niger that have suffered from rodent plagues. What kind of problems remain?  Mr. Yoro: We are very worried about the situation [...]

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