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Famine declared in East Africa

Famine declared in East Africa – 20 Jul 2011

Famine has been officially declared in two parts of Somalia, and many more parts of northern Kenya and Ethiopia are expected to be declared as famine areas, as the worst drought in 60 years devastates the region.

Famine is defined as a crude mortality rate of more than two people per 10,000 per day and wasting rates of above 30 per cent in children under five years old across an entire region, according to the UN Children’s Fund (Unicef).

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Our partners in Ethiopia, Sudan and Kenya are responding. Tearfund’s appeal will fund urgently needed life-saving measures, such as:

  • extra nutrition for malnourished children and pregnant women
  • animal feed to protect livestock that are so crucial to survival
  • construction of additional water points
  • emergency tanks and distribution of water for villages experiencing the worst of the drought conditions
  • food for families who currently are not reached by the World Food Programme response
  • helping communities become more resilient to future crises.

Staff from Tearfund’s local partner, World Concern are seeing malnourished children and mothers on a daily basis as they deal with the reality of the crisis that is gripping the region, which is also being fuelled by high staple food prices. In a recent assessment of Garissa County and the Liboi area which borders Somalia, World Concern reported visible signs that lack of water and food are taking a serious toll on people’s health.

Elias Kamau, Deputy Africa Director of World Concern, said, ‘Some Kenyan government programmes are providing people with food but the shortage of water is a real challenge and there is evidence of malnutrition among children was clearly visible.’

Littered with carcasses

‘The road sides are littered with carcasses of dead and dying livestock as herdsmen drive their weakened herds towards livestock markets where they are fetching next to nothing,’ said Elias.

He added that refugee camps for Somalis fleeing desperate drought conditions were ‘bursting at the seams’, with hundreds of new arrivals pouring in each day. There are three camps in the area, built to house 90,000 people, but are actually holding around 400,000.

Aid agencies recognise the need to help Somalis in their own country but insecurity has severely curtailed their ability to work there. Expected rains from March to May failed in Somalia, with the Juba region in the south being particularly badly affected by drought as a result.

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Water trucks

Most of the communities in Juba are pastoralists who rely on livestock for their livelihoods and the failure of the rains has resulted in a mass movement of people seeking help.

World Concern is looking to scale-up its operations in areas where access and security can be guaranteed.

This will take the form of improved access to clean water, food for the most vulnerable including children, mothers and the elderly, sanitation facilities and supplies of basic household items. As well as supporting World Concern, Tearfund is funding the transportation of water supplies by lorry into northern Kenya by our partner CCSMKE.

Over many years of work across Kenya and Ethiopia, Tearfund has been building the resilience of drought-prone communities to climatic shocks, for example, by supplying drought-resistant seeds to crop-growing areas and constructing covered dams to store water.

Donate today to help save lives

Partners step-up East Africa crisis response – 13 Jul 2011

Around ten million people are suffering as a result of the crisis that is mainly affecting parts of Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia.

UNICEF is warning that two million children are malnourished as a result of the drought in the Horn of Africa, and half a million could soon die or suffer long-lasting mental or physical damage.

Give to our East Africa Crisis Appeal today

Kenya
The Kenyan government has declared a national disaster in the north of the country, where several years of poor rains have left 3.5 million people vulnerable.

Most people in this area rely on cattle and other livestock to make a living and our partner, Community Christian Services of Mount Kenya East (CCSMKE), is transporting water by tankers to assist them, as well as carrying out new assessments of need to boost their response.

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Over the last ten years of operation in northern Kenya, CCSMKE has been helping communities become better able to cope with drought conditions, for example by training people to build dams to store water and teaching them how to combat soil erosion.

The value of this long-term approach to reducing the risk of disasters was underlined by a recent Tearfund report which said that for every €1 invested in these types of activities, communities saw a benefit equivalent to €24.

But the changing climate in East Africa over recent years has had an adverse impact on livestock herders who have seen the value of their animals drop and their markets collapse, resulting in dwindling food purchasing power.

This has come at a time when staple food prices around the world have risen massively, for example the price of white maize at one Kenyan market has risen by 58 per cent in a year.

Conditions for pastoralists are predicted to deteriorate further in the next four months.

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Ethiopia
In Ethiopia, where food inflation is running at 40 per cent, 3.2 million people are experiencing serious hardship as a result of the crisis.

Most of them are in the south east, another area where people rely on livestock for their livelihoods.

Other areas in the south of Ethiopia are also showing signs of food shortage-stress. Here partners such as the Wolaitta Kale Heywet Church are preparing to launch a cash-for-work programme that will enable more than 500 families to feed themselves.

Another Ethiopian partner, the Full Gospel Believers’ Church, which is also involved in long term projects to help people overcome hunger, is planning to step up activities such as cash-for-work schemes.

The key to whether the crisis will worsen in Ethiopia is the longevity of rains which need to fall between now and mid-September to avert widespread harvest failures.

In Somalia, our partner World Concern is carrying out detailed assessments of people’s needs this week on the Kenya/Somali border.

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Millions go hungry in East Africa - Crisis Appeal

Millions go hungry in East Africa - Crisis Appeal – 6 Jul 2011

Tearfund is asking people to pray for the situation in East Africa, where more than 10 million people are facing severe hunger as some areas experience the worst drought in 60 years, destroying crops and livestock.

Richard Lister, Tearfund’s Head of Region for East Africa, said, “There has been widespread loss of crops and livestock and the impact of the drought has been worsened by high food prices and, in some areas, conflict. There is a high risk of this crisis becoming critical if rains remain erratic.”

More than 10 million people across the region are facing extreme hunger: 4.9 million in Ethiopia, 3.5 million in Kenya, 2.5 million in Somalia, 600,000 in Uganda and 163,000 in Djibouti.

Give to our East Africa Crisis Appeal today

Work by Tearfund partners to prepare communities to better withstand drought has been going on for many years, which has helped lessen the impact for many. However, deteriorating climatic conditions this year are taking their toll.

Robert Schofield, Tearfund’s Disaster Management Director, said: “We musn’t forget this is sub-Saharan Africa, which is a challenging environment and this is going to keep happening for some people.

“Climate change means this is going to occur more frequently and will be worse each time, which is why two things are crucial: urgent international action much be taken to address climate change; and investment in long-term disaster risk reduction initiatives, so poor communities are prepared when they are faced with adverse weather conditions.”

To add to the pressure on struggling families, staple food prices have rocketed. Tearfund has been lobbying the G20 leaders recently to tackle high global food prices by protecting the most vulnerable people and building long-term resilience to disasters.

Tragedy strikes Peah’s family

Tragedy strikes Peah’s family – 1 Jul 2011

Tragedy has struck the family of Peah, the young boy featured in Tearfund Ireland’s autumn 2008 film (view film here). Over the past few year’s Peah life has been transformed after being fostered into this loving family. Now he has lost his foster father.

In the frantic traffic of Phnom Penh, Cambodia his foster father came off his motorbike on his way to collect Peah from school. He suffered what appeared to be minor injuries and got back on his bike and went home. Later that evening he started vomiting blood. His family rushed him to hospital but tragically he died in the hospital four hours later.

Peah and all his family are in a state of shock and grieving his loss. Tearfund and our local partner Little Conquerors are also sad at the loss of this wonderful man. We will continue to support this family Please pray for the family during this difficult time.

Rescued from the streets

Peah was abandoned on the streets of Phnom Penh, Cambodia when he was only 6 years old. Fortunately Chendai, who works with Tearfund’s partner Little Conquerors found him. We were were able to place him with a loving foster family who raised him as their own son. Little Conqueror’s supports foster families by providing social work assistance, helping to pay school fees and helping the parents establish small business to sustain themselves.

Give to our Forgotten Children Fund today

  • €22 per month can support two children in foster families
  • €86 can pay for school fees and books for four families for one year
  • €125 can pay for a social worker who places children in a foster family

Download a Standing Order Form to give regularly
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On 9th July 2011 South Sudan will be declaring independence from North Sudan

On 9th July 2011 South Sudan will be declaring independence from North Sudan – 23 Jun 2011

In less than a month’s time, on 9 July 2011, South Sudan will be declaring independence from North Sudan, becoming the world’s 195th country.

Tearfund’s Sudan Country Representative Jonas Njelango reflects on the prospects for this new country.

‘We have many hopes for the new Republic of South Sudan but we must be also realistic that there are a lot of challenges. In the South, it is estimated that 90 per cent of people live below the poverty line of less than US$1 a day. Despite this we are positive about what lies ahead.

‘In Goja, for example, the community, led by the local church, has a 20-year plan to address local problems. Six years on they are ahead of their plan, having built a school, a church and most houses now have toilets. Thanks to hygiene education, people are now washing their hands, boiling water and using rubbish pits.

‘Farming cooperatives are cultivating large areas of land and many now own small businesses. Such transformation comes through a process known as ‘Umoja’, which inspires churches and communities through the use of the Bible to consider what resources they have and to work together to undertake their own development.

‘This brings hope for the future of the South and we need to pray to see more of it.’

In the lead-up to 9 July, Tearfund has created a 21-day prayer guide to help you remember the people of Sudan and South Sudan during this key transitional time.

  • Please pray for the new Republic of South Sudan as it declares independence on 9 July. Pray for wisdom for its leaders in dealing with the various challenges it will face
  • Pray for the transformation taking place across the country, in places like Goja, to bring hope to the Sudanese people. Pray this will continue and be scaled up
  • With One Voice, pray that all support given to the new Republic of South Sudan after 9 July will be helpful in building up the country and in line with South Sudanese priorities and aspirations
  • Pray for good relations between the Republic of Sudan and the new Republic of South Sudan after 9 July
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Sounds fishy? - agricultural innovation improves nutrition

Sounds fishy? - agricultural innovation improves nutrition – 8 Jun 2011

A Tearfund-supported research project in Israel and Palestine has developed an affordable and sustainable aquaponics system to help poor families in developing countries produce higher fruit and vegetable yields.

Tim Evans, Kyle Petrie and Chris Somerville (pictured) recently trialed their Aquaponics system in Israel to see if it could be used in a refugee camp setting with incredible results. The project was supported by Tearfund, Leprosy Mission and Church of the Nazarene in Jerusalem.

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What is Aquaponics?

Take some fish, a few pipes and lots of water and the result is incredible vegetables. Aquaponics is a system where plants are grown in a soil-less environment and they are fertilised as the plants soak up nutrients from water enriched by fish waste. It is a closed system which means it uses very little water which is important in arid climates.

Why is Aquaponics better than traditional methods?

For people living in refugee camps there is little space and even less water. Growing fresh fruit and vegetables can be very difficult and as a result malnutrition rates are high. The research showed that aquaponically grown plants can grow up to five times faster than in local soils and makes planting and harvesting easier. A manual has been developed for local community groups, giving them a step by-step guide on how to build and maintain a household aquaponic system. It is hoped that this simple technology will help poor households in developing countries to improve their nutrition and generate income from selling surplus fruit and vegetables.

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What’s next?

There has been enormous interest from the UN, the Irish Ambassador and other organisations in Israel/ Palestine. They want to roll out this new technology in parts of the West Bank and get more poor families using it. Tim Evans will stay in Jerusalem as pastor of a local church and continue to run this project also. Meanwhile Chris Somerville has also been asked to train farmers in Jordan on how to set it up for themselves. It’s a really simple idea which is having enormous impact.

“It has been an interesting process to take a project like this from a garden in south Dublin all the way to the rooftop of a church in the heart of Jerusalem,” said Kyle. “It has come with its challenges and also its rewards. It’s been encouraging to meet local people here who are so enthusiastic about what we’re doing.”

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