20 July 2012
A year ago today (Friday 20 July), the UN declared famine in Somalia. To mark a year of fighting hunger in East Africa, Tearfund are calling for prayer for the millions of people around the world who will go hungry today.
Somalia, Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda and South Sudan have received emergency aid since last year’s Disasters Emergencies Committee (DEC) Appeal, which raised £79million and has already helped 2.3 million people. Tearfund, as one of the members of the DEC, have assisted more than 200,000 people in Somalia, Kenya and Ethiopia over the last year.
‘Of course, we’ve been working through local churches and partner organisations in East Africa for many years but in the last year we’ve had to increase our efforts to help parents feed their children,’ says David Bainbridge, Tearfund’s International Director.
‘We’re grateful to God and our supporters for the generous donations we received last summer, and for the funds we’re receiving now from people who are concerned about the escalating hunger in West Africa.
‘Increasing food prices and climate change are affecting all of us, and particularly those living in poor countries, meaning that millions of people around the world don’t have enough food to live. There is enough food for everyone, but one in seven people will go to bed hungry tonight.’
Ato Harkiso Asale and his wife Banatal, from Ethiopia, are in their 70s. The drought hit them hard, to the point where they considered themselves lucky to have one bowl of cassava a day. Their local church, funded by Tearfund, gave them cash for six months so they could rebuild their strength and stave off hunger. Now, they eat three meals a day and enjoy a variety of foods.
Banatal says: ‘Our life has been changed because of the church. We hope God will never forsake us.’
Others in their community have been helped too. Younger adults who are more able-bodied have received cash payments in exchange for doing work that helps the community to become more resilient to extreme weather, like tree planting and terrace building to enhance soil and water conservation.
‘We’re not out of the woods yet,’ says David Bainbridge. ‘We’re expecting poor harvests in Kenya because of long rains and crop failure in the southern lowlands, so we’ll continue to support communities in East Africa to be more resistant to future unpredictable rainfall. At the same time, over in West Africa, families in Burkina Faso, Niger and Mali are telling us that they are having to feed their children leaves because there isn’t any proper food to eat.
‘It feels too big to comprehend, but we believe in a big God who calls us to be part of the work he is doing.
‘Without the prayers and donations of Christians in the UK, we wouldn’t have been able to help Ato and Banatal,’ says David Bainbridge. ‘Please join with us in praying for an end to hunger, and for a fairer world for everyone.’
For media enquiries please call Katie Harrison in Tearfund Media Team on 07949 181414. For out of hours enquiries please call 07710 573749.
Notes to editors:
The East Africa Food Crisis Appeal was launched in the UK by the Disasters Emergencies Committee (DEC) in July 2011. The British public donated £79million to support Tearfund and other DEC member agencies to respond to extreme hunger in Kenya, Ethiopia, Somalia, Uganda and South Sudan.
Since July 2011, funded by money raised through the DEC and donated directly from Tearfund supporters, Tearfund has assisted more than 200,000 people in East Africa. Tearfund has been working through partners in East Africa for many years, and so was well placed to respond to this crisis through existing networks.
Tearfund’s West Africa Appeal launched in June 2012, raising money and calling for prayer for people in Burkina Faso, Niger, Mali and Chad who are experiencing extreme hunger.
Tearfund is a Christian relief and development agency building a global network of churches to help eradicate poverty.