CAFOD launches Emergency Food Crisis Appeal for Ethiopia, South Sudan and north-east Nigeria

6 August 2021

A mother holds her sleeping child

With your support local experts will be able to scale up their response to reach more people with the food they urgently need.

CAFOD has launched an emergency food crisis appeal for families facing extreme food shortages in Ethiopia, South Sudan and north-east Nigeria.

Families across these three countries face extreme hunger because of a deadly combination of Covid, climate change and protracted conflict, creating a humanitarian emergency. We no longer have the ‘luxury’ of dealing with one crisis at a time.

We have committed £500,000 of your generous donations. Working together, we need your further support to get food and clean water to hundreds of thousands of people.

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What is happening?

A recent report from the United Nations says 155 million people faced acute hunger in 2020 – an increase of 20 million people from 2019 – and that hunger is expected to increase in 23 global hotspots.

The report identifies the situation in Tigray in Ethiopia, South Sudan, and north-east Nigeria as “catastrophic”, with Ethiopia at the top of the list.

What is the situation in Northern Ethiopia?

On 4 November 2020, armed conflict broke out between the regional government and the federal government in northern Ethiopia in the country’s Tigray region. According to UN estimates, this conflict has left over 2 million people displaced, including hundreds of thousands of people in the neighbouring Amhara and Afar regions. An estimated 5.2 million people in Tigray need assistance – more than 90 per cent of the region's population - with hundreds of thousands more people in need of assistance in Amhara and Afar.

Families on all sides of the conflict have had to to flee their farms and homesteads, leaving behind all that they own. Last year’s November/ December harvest has already been lost. There are fears that the current planting seasons will be severely impacted by the conflict as well.

It is now critical to reach vulnerable families who have lost everything and have exhausted all ways of coping.

Your donation today will allow us to support the emergency response of the Church in Ethiopia – getting food parcels to vulnerable families and nutrition support to pregnant mothers and children under five years of age. It will also allow us to provide essential counselling for those traumatised by the war.

“We are grateful to all those who have been working tirelessly to alleviate the suffering of the popu-lation and we encourage them to ensure that no one be forgotten or left out. We urge all authorities on the ground to allow unfettered access to humanitarian aid.”

Catholic Bishops Conference of Ethiopia pastoral statement, July 2021

What is the situation in South Sudan?

In July, South Sudan marked 10 years of independence, but the years of continued conflict and violence, and the impact of the climate crisis – drought, floods and a locust plague – have combined to severely restrict people’s ability to grow food.

The situation for many families has become much bleaker as Covid restrictions have devastated the informal economy of daily wage earners. The UN estimates that 60 per cent of South Sudan’s 12 million population now face dangerous levels of hunger.

Local Church partners are doing all that they can to reach families with food and water, peace building messaging and support to return to farming, in Tonj North, Tonj South, Tonj East and Gogrial West in Warrap State, and in Yirol East in Lakes State.

“Communities across South Sudan are facing huge challenges at this time. Ongoing conflict, the effects of flooding, and the impact of Covid on health and the economy are all making food needs worse for families.

"With extreme hunger a more visible and increasing threat than the virus, children go out on the streets to beg for food, despite the danger of the disease spreading. Day and night outside my priest house, people are asking for something to ‘quench their hunger’. It is the poorest, the old, women and children who are paying the price."

Father James Oyet Latansio, one of CAFOD's long-term partners

What is the situation in north-east Nigeria?

Eleven years ago, a violent conflict began in north-east Nigeria. A Nigerian militant Islamist group called Boko Haram unleashed a reign of terror on communities, attacking public places, kidnapping women and girls, destroying crops and stealing livestock. Boko Haram attacks have closed markets, and some farming communities haven’t been able to farm for several years.

The UN Development Programme (UNDP) reports that people who make it out of insurgent-controlled areas are malnourished, and that the insecurity has led to a decline in farming, food production and market trading, leaving households destitute. The UN estimates more than 13 million people live in areas affected by conflict, of which nearly 9 million people need humanitarian aid.

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Pray for those who hunger

How is CAFOD responding?

Working as part of the global Caritas network of Catholic international aid agencies, our local Church aid workers are already on the front line of these crises, getting emergency food supplies and clean water to vulnerable families in need.

With your support local aid workers will be able to scale up their response to reach more women, children, men, the elderly and people with disabilities with the food they urgently need.

How will my donation make a difference?

As Catholics, our faith calls us to care for the world’s most vulnerable people.

While campaigning to change the structures that keep people in poverty in times of plenty, it is our commitment to the world’s vulnerable and marginalised peoples in tough times that is the true mark of our faith. Your donations will be used to support those in urgent need.

A person with their face tilted slightly upwards looking to the left

CAFOD has launched an Emergency Food Crisis Appeal for families facing extreme food shortages in Ethiopia’s Tigray region, South Sudan and north-east Nigeria.

Is ending hunger possible?

Ending hunger is possible if governments look first to end conflicts and allow humanitarian access to all areas where vulnerable people need life-saving aid. Governments should agree that any sustainable peace process must acknowledge the root causes of that conflict, and ensure that women and other members of civil society are part of and involved in building peace.

To end hunger permanently, governments must be willing and able to rebuild a sustainable and fairer global economy. At this year’s COP26 climate conference in Glasgow, CAFOD is calling for climate finance to be made available to support countries to rebuild greener, more sustainable economies. There must be investment in providing social protection rather than investing in the arms trade, and trade deals must uphold the highest standards on human rights.

Hunger is a symptom of a deeper problem in a world in which the current system of growing, producing and consuming food works against the world’s poorest communities. We need to shift the current imbalance of power away from the vested interests of a few powerful global agribusiness companies – who own 75 per cent of the global seed market, up from 16 per cent 20 years ago – and instead protect and campaign with the billions of people who live off the land and depend on its sustainable use for their livelihood, supporting those who work and speak out to defend their lands for the common good.

The three "deadly Cs" driving hunger

1. Covid-19 and hunger

The global Covid-19 pandemic is the greatest humanitarian threat the world has ever faced. Covid-19 is sweeping across countries in the global South, making millions of people severely ill, overwhelming countries’ healthcare systems, interrupting the delivery of other essential services, disrupting food systems, and undoing decades of development.

The slowdown in the global economy and the lockdown restrictions have resulted in a decline in income and increasing job losses, leaving families with less money, and limited access to basic food and services. With no access to social support or remittances from family members working overseas who have also lost jobs, millions of people can no longer afford to buy food for their daily needs. Families have sent an urgent and repeated message: “Hunger will kill us before Covid.”

Women disproportionately bear the burden of rising hunger and food shortages – they are often the first to skip meals or eat smaller portions so that the family ration goes further, which means women are the first to go hungry.

2. Conflict and hunger

War is driving hunger in nearly all the world’s main food crises. The UN estimates that 77 million people – more than half of the 135 million facing acute hunger – are living in countries affected by conflict. Conflict disrupts agriculture and trade, making the cost of a daily plate of food more than a day’s wage in some countries.

3. The climate crisis and hunger

The cycle of failed rainy seasons followed by drought is making it impossible for many farmers and herders to hold onto their livelihoods. Swarms of locusts, and extreme weather events such as cyclones and floods, have also increased humanitarian needs.

This November, the UK will host COP26, the UN climate change conference in Glasgow. World leaders will meet with the aim to agree how to tackle the urgent threat of global climate change. Our demands to COP26 are rooted in climate justice – we will put pressure on world leaders to take urgent action and set out clear policies that will prevent global temperatures rising above 1.5C and protect our planet and people from the intensifying impacts of climate change.

This needs to be shored up with financial investment to help communities adapt to the changing climate. It is a matter of justice that wealthy nations, who bear the greatest historic responsibility for the climate crisis, need to step up and lead on climate action including providing money to countries and communities already affected by climate change, so they can survive and rebuild their lives and livelihoods.

What has Pope Francis said?

Pope Francis says hunger is caused “to a large extent, by an unequal distribution of the fruits of the earth, in addition to the lack of investment in agriculture, the consequences of climate change and the increase in conflicts in different parts of the planet, as well as by the tonnes of food that are discarded. Faced with this reality we cannot remain insensitive or paralysed because we are all responsible”. (Pope Francis to the FAO on World Food Day 2020)

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Pray with us

“For I was hungry, and you gave me to eat ... in so far as you did this to one of the least of my brothers and sisters, you did it to me.”

Matthew 25:35, 40

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