Tuesday, 25th April 2017
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East Africa Food Crisis - worst humanitarian crisis since the end of World War II

dear editor,

More than 20 million people in Africa today are in urgent need of food, as the world responds to a humanitarian crisis that the United Nations is describing as the worst since the end of World War II.

If the current drought in the East Africa brings a sense of déjà vu, it’s because we have been there before. In fact we are seeing this situation occur with increasing regularity.

Droughts have left huge numbers of people in sub-Saharan Africa in need of our help in each of 2005, 2006, 2008, 2011, 2015 and in 2016 and 2017. As with the frequency, the severity has also intensified.

When the United Nations reported in 2011 that the drought was the region’s worst for 60 years, they were speaking of a crisis that affected approximately 12 million people. Today, it is many more.

We know, from the images on our computers, in our newspapers, and on our television screens the unspeakable horror and personal tragedies that lie behind these cold statistics.

And we can get frustrated, and attribute blame and responsibility - on global forces like changing climate, or human factors like population growth or political instability, but the reality is that in our world of plenty, there are innocent people at risk of dying from need, in great numbers.

At Gorta-Self Help Africa we have responded to this current crisis in the best way that we know how. For decades we have worked with small-scale farming families across the region, helping them to increase production and income they can earn from small farms.

This month, we have begun distributing emergency supplies of drought tolerant seed, fertiliser and other materials, so that tens of thousands of rural poor families can plant and produce in the months ahead, and thus have some chance of averting a catastrophe in their lives.

In Kenya, more than 4,500 households are receiving nutrient rich green gram and pigeon pea seeds – two crops that will grow in the harshest of climate; while in Ethiopia, thousands more are receiving seed and fertiliser so that they are ready to plant when the seasonal rains do arrive, in the coming weeks and months.

While UN food programmes and others have begun distributing food aid now, it is only by providing practical support, such as drought tolerant seed that can grow high nutrient crops, that the region’s poorest people, will be able to end this terrible cycle

We are grateful to the many people who have responded to our appeal in recent weeks, and will use any funds that we receive from the Irish people for this purpose, in the weeks ahead.

Yours sincerely

Ray Jordan, CEO,

Gorta-Self Help Africa



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