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.

1 in 6 go hungry

By |23 June 2010|

World hunger reached an historic high in 2009 with over a billion people going without enough food every day. Malnutrition increased by 13 percent in Asia, 8 percent in Latin America and the Caribbean and 6 percent in Africa.

March 31, 2010

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.

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 [...]

February 19, 2010

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.

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 [...]

December 22, 2009

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 [...]

September 2, 2009

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, [...]