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Caritas says drought stricken Africa needs urgent attention


Severe droughts continue to cause concern, as failed rains leave millions facing starvation in eastern Africa, according to a statement last week from Caritas Australia.

Caritas says countries in the region currently at risk include Ethiopia, Tanzania and Kenya, where the agency is responding to the humanitarian crisis, addressing the pressing need for food assistance.

Caritas Australia is planning to commit funds towards famine relief programs in Kenya, where the ongoing drought has led to more than 3.5 million suffering from food shortages.

Órla Fagan of Trócaire, Caritas Australia's partner agency in Ireland, witnessed the visible devastation this week, as she travelled through parts of Central Kenya gripped by the drought.

"The land becomes more arid, the rivers have dried up, the cattle appear thinner and the people are sometimes surviving on just one meal a day, barely enough to keep them alive," said Ms Fagan.

"The lack of rainfall, combined with the other issues affecting the developing world such as land ownership and access to markets are at the root of this food insecurity, which prevents people living with the dignity they deserve," she said.

Caritas Australia has already contributed $A33,345 towards food intervention programs in Ethiopia, a country where food insecurity has become a defining feature of its rural poverty. The crisis in the country has left more than 1.75 million people in urgent need of humanitarian assistance.

Food security programs in Tanzania have also been funded by Caritas Australia, improving existing traditional irrigation schemes, so that agro-economic activities are diversified and farmers' income and food security are improved.

Caritas Australia is currently accepting donations for Africa. This will enable communities throughout Africa to be assisted, wherever the need is greatest. Donations to Caritas Australia's Africa Appeal can be made by phoning 1800 024 413, on-line at www.caritas.org.au or by posting to GPO Box 9830 in your capital city.

SOURCE
Urgent attention still needed for drought stricken Africa (Caritas Australia 25/1/06)

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Caritas Australia

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Early Warning Signs of Famine in Kenya (Trocaire 27/1/06)

30 Jan 2006