31 May 2012
Millions of people across the Sahel region of West Africa face severe food shortages following a failed harvest in 2011.
The drought has hit hardest families in Niger, Mali, Burkina Faso, Mauritania and Chad.
Hamani Fodi (pictured) of Garbey Gourov in the Dosso region of Niger can usually harvest enough millet and beans to feed his family through the year. But after a disastrous harvest in October, the family has almost run out of food.
‘When my grandchildren go hungry, I am not happy at all. What is very painful is when children surround you and say “we need food” and there is no food to give them. We don’t know what will happen,’ says Hamani.
As part of the global Caritas response, Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand has pledged $75,000 to relief efforts in Niger where 5.5 million people are at risk.
Partners in the country including Caritas Niger are providing emergency aid and helping communities to put in place sustainable practices and assets that will help reduce the impact of future droughts.
It is anticipated that over 14,000 households in 110 villages will receive seeds for planting. People like Hamani will also receive food support. Millet, cooking oil and legumes will be distributed to 15,000 families in two dioceses. Food for Work and Cash for Work schemes will be implemented in 69 villages including 19 in the Dioceses of Maradi and Niamey, where the capital is located.
‘The need is almost unimaginable,’ says Caritas humanitarian programmes officer Mark Mitchell. ‘We’re grateful to those who have already given $15,000 to our Sahel appeal, but we appeal to New Zealand Catholics for more funds to help people like Hamani and his family’.
This will help extend urgently needed programmes such as support of families with malnourished children, providing cereals at moderate prices and distributing cattle feed.
To learn more or to donate contact www.caritas.org.nz