I will never forget the shocking scenes I witnessed in east Africa last summer. Mothers, fathers and children left facing days on end with no food, weak from hunger and desperate in the knowledge that it would be months before the rains came.
There was a hopelessness in people’s eyes as they stared out at their barren land and empty animal pens. Drought had deprived them of food, of animals, of income. They were left with nothing.
One year ago today Trócaire asked for your help in getting emergency relief to those people. You responded in an incredible fashion. In total, €10.4m was donated to our emergency appeal. Every cent received was ringfenced for the people of east Africa.
Top: Left - Beatrice Wanjiru, who has received goats, crops and food through Trócaire's east Africa appeal. Right and Bottom: Sabina Kangaria (36) from Kathandeni village, Tharaka District. Photos: Eoghan Rice.
Your donations allowed us to bring life-saving aid to over 400,000 people across Somalia, Kenya and Ethiopia. Amongst the projects your money funded were:
• 4,657 tonnes of food and 261,062 litres of oil supplied to 110,882 people in Kenya
• Drought resistant seeds supplied to 50,000 people in Kenya and Somalia.
• 60 water tanks, 22 wells, 12 rain water catchments and 4 boreholes constructed or rehabilitated.
• 52,260 in Ethiopia benefitting from cash for work or direct cash transfers
• Food and grain distributed to 30,000 people in Ethiopia
• 4,000 bed nets provided to communities vulnerable to malaria in Somalia
• 82,500 water treatment tablets distributed to 2,750 households in Somalia
• Food vouchers supplied to 35,486 people in Somalia, giving them access to food each day for five months
• 33,346 people in Somalia given water vouchers, providing them with clean water over a three month period
• 2,874 patients and carers in two hospitals were supplied with two meals a day
• 1,833 pregnant women or new mothers supplied with rations of Unimix
Behind each of those figures stands a person. Somebody like Beatrice Wanjiru, from the village of Kabururu in central Kenya, who told us:
“We had no goats, no crops, no tools and no money. We had no food and I did not have enough energy to work. Trócaire has given us two goats, as well as seeds and tools. This has boosted us a great deal and soon we will have enough food to sell at the market. We are very grateful for what we received because beforehand we had nothing.”
In the nearby village of Kathandeni, Sabina Kangaria Mojila tells a similar story:
“Our crops did not grow because of the drought. People had to sell their livestock just to survive, but even then old people in the village died. The food aid we received saved lives. It also meant that we could do work instead of having to look for food, and the children could go to school.”
It is thanks to your help that people like Beatrice and Sabina were helped through last summer’s devastating drought.
And your help does not stop there.
Sadly, drought is not a once-off event. As the effects of climate change worsen, we know that drought will return.
We need to make sure people like Beatrice and Sabina can survive through periods of drought. That is why Trócaire is funding a massive irrigation project in their district, which will bring clean water directly to over 10,000 people.
This project will mean that people in the villages around Kathandeni and Kabururu will no longer have to walk for hours each day to provide their families with clean water.
But it means more than that. It means that when the rains fail, people in these villages will be safe in the knowledge that water will be transported directly from the river to their crops. Crops will grow despite the drought, and where crops grow people can live. Like the emergency relief that kept so many people alive, this irrigation project is possible only because people in Ireland support it.
Your incredible generosity is saving lives and making a better future for people in east Africa.