Why CAFOD needs your help to end the East Africa Crisis
9 May 2017
Over 16 million people across South Sudan, Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya are in urgent need of food, following months of drought.
In South Sudan alone, 4.9 million people - more than 40 per cent of the country’s population - urgently need food, and nutrition assistance. In many places, such as South Sudan, the crisis has been exacerbated by conflict and economic collapse.
We are already working with our local Church partners on the ground, who are providing vital aid to communities affected by hunger and drought.
Inspiring response from the Catholic community
Our supporters have once again shown enormous generosity since we launched our East Africa Crisis Appeal, raising over £3 million to date.
Jo Kitterick, Head of Parish and Volunteer Engagement at CAFOD, said:
“We cannot thank our supporters and volunteers enough for once again showing such great faith and trust in CAFOD. The enormous response from our supporters has been humbling; schools, parishes and individuals across the Catholic Community of England and Wales are donating, fundraising and praying; a testament to our commitment and willingness to be witnesses of putting our faith into action”.
Listen to our Step into the Gap volunteers who recently visited CAFOD projects in Ethiopia and saw first hand the work your support is enabling.
We are starting to hear about all the amazing ways our supporters have come together to help the communities affected by drought and conflict. St. Saviour’s parish, Isle of Wight, is one of many parishes who held a soup lunch in aid of the appeal and through their efforts raised they nearly £200. School pupils across the country have also got involved in fundraising; Holy Ghost Catholic Primary School in Balham donated almost £1,000 to the appeal, raised from a non-school uniform day.
What is happening in South Sudan, Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya, and how is CAFOD responding?
Millions of vulnerable families desperately need food, as famine has been declared in parts of South Sudan: the world’s newest nation is in the grip of a devastating humanitarian crisis.
In Unity State, 100,000 people face starvation and fears are growing that more vulnerable families in other parts of the country are on the brink of famine.
Without homes and safety, nearly 4.9 million people across the country urgently need food and nutrition. As part of the Caritas network, with our sister agency Trocaire, we are already working with local Church partners on the frontline of this crisis. In Yirol in central South Sudan, we are getting food and essential items to people most in need.
The Catholic Bishops of South Sudan have called on the international community “for immediate and unconditional concrete intervention and action before thousands of innocent lives are carried away and before it is too late.”
Since December 2013, a brutal conflict has devastated the lives of millions of South Sudanese and more than 3 million people have been forced to flee their homes.
The UN estimates that the number of people in need of food aid has increased from 5 million in September 2016 to 6.2 million between February and June 2017. This means that 50 per cent of the population do not have enough food to eat and are at risk of famine; with more than 363,000 acutely malnourished children and 70,000 severely malnourished children in need of urgent life-saving support.
Our two long standing sister agencies have been present in Somalia since 1992 and 2011 respectively, and responded to the devastating drought and food crisis of 2011. They have strong networks of local partners who are working with the most vulnerable families in need of nutrition, health and cash transfers to buy available food.
Back-to-back seasons of poor or non-existent rainfall in 2015, exacerbated by the strongest El Niño phenomenon on record in the same year, led to the worst drought in decades in northern Ethiopia. The number of people in need of food sky-rocketed from 3 million at the beginning of 2015 to 10.2 million twelve months later in January 2016.
Failed autumn rains in 2016 have led to a new drought affecting 5.6 million people in the southern and south eastern regions of Ethiopia – which has resulted in critical shortage of water and pasture in lowland pastoralist areas leading to a sharp deterioration in condition of livestock and livestock deaths in some places. For these communities, the loss or livestock means a loss of or decrease in milk production - often one of the only sources of protein for families.
Our programme staff and local partners continue to respond where the needs are greatest with food, nutrition, water and sanitation.
In February, the Kenyan government declared drought a national disaster, affecting more than 2 million people the north of the country.
In 2016, the long rains (March-April-May) performed poorly and the short rains (October – December) failed. The communities in the north of the country are primarily pastoralists: nomadic and semi-nomadic herders who rely entirely on their cattle and livestock as a means of maintaining a sustainable way of life and living. They depend on the two rainy seasons and when they fail, the effects can be catastrophic as they lose cattle and valuable pastures to drought.
CAFOD is working with its long standing local Caritas partners to get food, healthcare, water and sanitation delivered in the northern county of Marsabit.
We have also taken the lead in providing assessment information and analysis on the hardest hit areas and families as part of a consortium of NGOs, to receive funding to respond to the drought through the START Fund and its new mechanism called START Drawdown.
Is this related to climate change?
Every day, we witness the effects of the changing climate on poor and vulnerable people around the world. Communities we work with are losing their crops due to erratic rainfall or warm temperatures, and families are struggling as water sources disappear. This makes communities more vulnerable to poor harvests and droughts, and has contributed to this food crisis.
In Pope Francis’s Encyclical – Laudato Si’, he speaks openly about the devastating effects of climate change on people and the planet. He says that climate change is real, urgent and it must be tackled. He also describes the climate as "a common good, belonging to all and meant for all".
Who are CAFOD’s partners in the East Africa Crisis?
We are working with a wide range of local Catholic and other partners in the worst-affected areas of South Sudan, Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya.
As a member of Caritas Internationalis - a confederation of more than 160 Catholic aid agencies across the globe – many of our sister agencies in the Caritas network, as well as our local partners, are already on the frontline providing vital aid to communities affected by hunger and drought.
How long have we been working in East Africa?
We have been working in East Africa since our foundation in 1962, providing emergency relief and long-term development projects to some of the poorest people in the world.
How much has the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) East Africa Crisis Appeal raised?
The Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) – a coalition of 13 leading UK aid agencies, of which CAFOD is a part – launched a joint appeal on Wednesday 15 March 2017.
To date, the DEC's East Africa Crisis Appeal has raised £55 million. This includes £10 million from the UK Government, through its Aid Match Fund.
Why are there droughts in East Africa so often?
In general, droughts are occurring in East Africa increasingly often. The region suffered from major droughts in 2011 and in 2009. Because droughts are happening with such frequency, people have very little time to rebuild their lives and livelihoods between each event. When there are rains, they are less predictable than in the past, making it harder for farmers to plan ahead.
The 2011 drought was a result of La Niña phenomenon: lower than normal temperatures in the Pacific Ocean had serious effects on weather conditions around the world. In many areas of East Africa, the rains that usually fall from March to June were far less heavy than usual.
In 2017, the hunger crisis has been caused by severe and extreme weather shifts, part of the El Niño effect which has caused drought. In countries like South Sudan this has been exacerbated by conflict and economic collapse.