Trócaire Blogs


May 11, 2017

Kenya: Report on food crisis in Turkana

With severe drought gripping many parts of East Africa, millions of people are facing possible starvation in the coming months. David O’Hare from Trócaire recently returned from northern Kenya where he saw the impact of the crisis on people there.

mary nakodos lokerian

Mary Nakodos Lokerian at an emergency food distribution near the centre of Lodwar town in northern Kenya.

Mary (pictured above) has eight family members that she cares for. She said her whole family is hungry. The drought has killed their animals and because she is blind there is no other work she can do to earn money for food like gathering firewood or making baskets. 

Food distribution centre in Lodwar

Women receive emergency food at distribution centre near the centre of Lodwar town in northern Kenya.

This vital aid was targeting particularly vulnerable groups including the elderly, people with disabilities and those living with HIV. Some of the people had walked for hours in the burning sun to get to the distribution point. There they waited patiently to receive quantities of maize and beans. The people living with HIV received some fruit as well to help their medication work effectively. 

Men waiting at Emergency Food Distribution Centre

Men waiting at the emergency food distribution centre near Lodwar town. The centre focuses on delivering aid to vulnerable groups including the elderly, people with disabilities and those living with HIV.

Florence Asimtai (29) with her baby Esinyen

Florence Asimtai (29) with her baby Esinyen at the Trócaire supported St. Mary’s Primary Healthcare Centre in Kalokol in northern Kenya.

Florence is a single mother with four children and is among the most vulnerable experiencing the impacts of the drought in Turkana. The baby was weighed at the clinic and he was around 7.5lbs – the weight associated with a typical newborn here at home. Esinyen is eight months old.
Both Florence and the baby are HIV positive and have been receiving medical support at the centre. She lost her husband three years ago and has since become destitute with no means of earning a living for her four children.
The health of both Florence and the baby had deteriorated drastically when they were first brought to the health centre but the life-saving medical support they received made a great difference. Their health has improved since then but the current drought is threatening to undo that progress.

Baby having his arm measured in malnutrition test

Baby having his arm measured in basic malnutirion test at St. Mary’s Primary Healthcare Centre in the town of Kalokol. The centre is supported by Trócaire and is being used as an emergency clinic for young children suffering the effects of malnutrition.

waiting at st marys healthcare centre

Dozens of mothers wait with their babies and youngsters at St Mary's Primary Healthcare Centre. Many have walked for hours to get there.

Many of the children are very obviously malnourished. It is estimated that 500,000 children under the age of five in Kenya are at risk of severe malnutrition in the coming months.

The clinic weighs and examines the children.

The mothers of those who are identified as high-risk are given ‘Unimix’ to feed their children. This is a high protein, high vitamin supplement. The children are brought here once a month and this will continue until they are five years old so their progress can be monitored and any necessary support given. 

Healthcare workers advise mother at St Mary's Healthcare Clinic in Kalokol

Healthcare workers advise a mother at St Mary's Healthcare Clinic in Kalokol.

nadopoyen centre for street children

Children at the Nadopoyen Centre for Street Children in Lodwar Town, northern Kenya.

The centre is home to 200 children. Some are orphans but others had been sent away to the town by their families in the rural areas because they simply didn’t have enough food to feed them because of the drought. The children end up living on the street and would have been at great risk from violence and exploitation if not for the centre.

Dead camel in Nayuu

The carcass of a dead camel in Nayuu in northern Kenya.

Pastoralist people are seeing their animals perish because of a lack of water and grazing due to the prolonged drought. One local told us that when the camels start dying you know the situation is critical. 

Students at St. Lwanga Nakwamewi Primary School

Students at St. Lwanga Nakwamewi Primary School in Lodwar, northern Kenya.

The school usually has 1,400 pupils but only half have returned after the recent holiday. The drought has meant children are having to tend what animals are still alive while parents search for food or work. Those that do attend school find it hard to concentrate because they are hungry. 

Charles Iria (35) is the Deputy Director of Caritas Lodwar

Charles Iria (35) is the Deputy Director of Caritas Lodwar, one of Trócaire’s inspiring partners in northern Kenya. The organisation is carrying out life-saving work across the Turkana region during this food crisis. 

Watch UTV News from Monday 15 May for a week-long series of reports of the drought and food crisis in Kenya and East Africa.

May 04, 2017

Meeting genocide survivors in Guatemala

Lisa Naughten, a Trócaire supporter, shares her experiences of travelling with Trócaire to Guatemala in February to understand how support from Ireland makes a difference.  

genocide memorial

L: Memorial to indigeous people murdered in the 1980s in Guatemala. R: A vigil with candles to remember those lost.

During my trip to Guatemala the words of Sue Monk Kidd, author of The Secret Life of Bees wouldn’t leave my mind: "Stories have to be told or they die, and when they die, we can’t remember who we are or why we’re here."

One morning we went to a small town called Rabinal located in the area of Baja Verapaz in Guatemala. The local people are Achi Maya, indigenous people, who are a very marginalised and vulnerable section of Guatemalan society.

It was here that we met with a number of survivors of the 1980 - 1984 massacre, which claimed the lives of approximately 200,000 people.

I had not even been aware that there was a genocide in Guatemala. I felt so ignorant in the midst of these courageous, resilient and welcoming people, who are being supported through Trócaire’s programmes.

They each told their own story - how the violence has personally affected them and their continuous and arduous struggle for justice:

  • ‘I’m a survivor of La Laguna community. My husband was killed and I and other women were locked up and were constantly raped by the military. I am one of the 85 families affected from that community but we are still seeking justice.’ 
  • ‘I’m a survivor of the massacre and they took my son away from me. I am lucky enough that the bodies of my husband and son were found in a mass grave. I was forced to flee my community and was naked for three days in the mountains as we weren’t allowed back to the community. I have a scar on my heart still. I am really grateful for your support and I couldn’t have found my relatives if it wasn’t for you.’
  • ‘My story is very painful. In February 1982 my grandparents and my mother and brothers and sisters were killed. They haven’t been found yet in any of the mass graves. I am the only survivor. I was being shot at but didn’t die. The Gods must be looking after me.’ 

Although it was difficult to listen to their stories, I thought about how difficult it must be to deal with such trauma every day. I thought of my parents and sister at home and my beautiful nephews and how devastated I would be if something like that happened to any of them. And I wept. 

I cried for the survivors who are strong enough to tell their stories and who are so admirable in their fight for justice. And I cried for those who lost their lives.

Without Trocaire’s support and the support of their local partner ADIVIMA in Guatemala these people may never have found their relatives or had the opportunity to dignify the lives of their loved ones.  Families can continue the struggle of this fight for justice but they do not have to do so alone.

Trócaire and ADIVIMA are supporting families who are still looking for their loved ones. They are also providing the families with access to justice in the criminal courts. 

To this day excavations are still ongoing from mass graves so that families can get the bodies of their loved ones back.

I work for Human+Kind, an Irish skincare company that is committed to skincare with a conscience.

In our office often use the phrase ‘Be Human and Kind’, because this is the way we believe humanity should act towards one another and toward the environment.  

Because of this belief we’ve teamed up with Trócaire and developed a Limited Edition Handcream. It is made from the best natural Irish ingredients making it kind to animals, the environment and your skin. 50% of the proceeds of each tube sold will be donated directly to Trócaire. 

Part of our ethos at Human+Kind is that we strive for more than just great natural skincare products, we also want to provide a platform to make the world a better place. We hope our partnership with Trócaire will contribute to that. 

Check out to purchase your cream. 

May 02, 2017

Breakfast Republic goes to Palestine

Breakfast Republic duo Keith Walsh and Bernard O’Shea travelled to Palestine and Israel with Trócaire last weekend to experience life in the region and meet with groups, including comedians, who are trying to bring communities together. 

2FM Breakfast Republic hosts Bernard O'Shea and Keith Walsh with Daoud Eid Bsesat Jahalin, a farmer on the outskirts of Jerusalem whose community is under threat of house demolition to facilitate further illegal settlement expansion.

2FM's Bernard O'Shea and Keith Walsh with Daoud Eid Bsesat Jahalin, a farmer on the outskirts of Jerusalem whose community is under threat of house demolition to facilitate further illegal settlement expansion.

Meeting Palestinian and Israeli groups

The 2FM breakfast radio hosts travelled to Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Hebron and Tel Aviv as part of a partnership with Trócaire.

In Bethlehem the Irish radio hosts met with a group of young Palestinians who have formed Palestine’s first comedy club. The three young comedy fans explained how humour can help people in the region deal with the issues they face in their daily lives.

Bethlehem is divided by the Separation Wall, an eight-metre high wall that runs through the city dividing Palestinian families from each other and from their land. 

2FM Breakfast Republic host Bernard O’Shea meets communities on the outskirts of Jerusalem who live under threat of home demolition in order to facilitate the expansion of illegal Israeli settlements.

Bernard O’Shea meets communities on the outskirts of Jerusalem who live under threat of home demolition in order to facilitate the expansion of illegal Israeli settlements.

In Tel Aviv, Bernard and Keith met with Assaf Harel, a well-known Israeli comedian and television host who recently went viral after criticising Israel’s occupation of the West Bank.

The duo also met with Breaking the Silence, a group of former Israeli soldiers who now campaign against the occupation. 

2FM Breakfast Republic hosts Bernard O’Shea and Keith Walsh in the old city of Hebron, which has been closed off to Palestinians. Palestinians are not allowed to walk down certain streets, leaving the old city as a ghost town.

Bernard O’Shea and Keith Walsh in the old city of Hebron, which has been closed off to Palestinians. Palestinians are not allowed to walk down certain streets, leaving the old city as a ghost town.

Videos from Keith and Bernard’s trip will be posted on Trócaire’s Facebook page all week. Tune in to 2FM’s Breakfast Republic (7am – 10am) each morning this week to hear stories from the trip.

50th anniversary of the occupation of the West Bank, June 2017

Trócaire is undertaking a series of initiatives over the coming months to mark the 50th anniversary of the occupation of the West Bank.

Israel today militarily controls more than 60 per cent of the West Bank, building illegal settlements and moving Palestinian communities from their land.

Israeli settlers and Palestinians living in the West Bank have unequal access to water, land and roads. Settlers live under civil law while Palestinians live under full military law.

Find out more

Learn more about Trocaire's human rights and humanitarian work in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

April 26, 2017

Nepal: Rebuilding livelihoods two years after earthquake

Two years ago, on 25 April 2015, a devastating 7.8 magnitude earthquake hit the area to the north of Kathmandu in Nepal.

Bhawanatha Paudel

Farmer Bhawanatha Paudel is rebuilding his livelihood with Trócaire support two years on from the Nepal earthquake. Photo credit: CordAid

This was the country’s worst disaster in living memory; nearly 9,000 people died, thousands more were injured, and 600,000 lost their homes and income. 

Over the last two years, Trócaire has worked in partnership with sister agency CAFOD to support local partners to rebuild schools, repair damaged water systems, and to run training workshops with people from affected communities, so they can build safer homes that can withstand earthquakes. 

New farming practices

We have also been working on some exciting projects that are helping people to rebuild their lives and get them earning a living again. 

Dhaibung and Laharepauwa are two remote Nepalese villages in Rasuwa district that were badly hit by the massive earthquake. 

The families in this area are traditional farmers, who have used livestock to work the steep hillsides and harvest crops. Many lost their homes and their cattle during the catastrophe. 

Together with Nepalese NGO Parivartan Patra and Dutch NGO CordAid, our programme has been supporting more than 2800 families in these villages. 

We are helping them to pick up farming again and earn an income. 

Each of the 18 village wards now have a handheld motorised mini-tractor.  

Using oxen or other livestock to plough the land was a slow and expensive process. Families were earning just enough to get by. But now – fully trained and using the machinery - the farmers have started to reap the many benefits. 

The farmers can now produce much more, enabling them to sell their food at market and commercialise their farms. 

They have also stopped using oxen to plough the hillsides. Previously, oxen would work for 4-5 months of the year, but the rest of the time they would still need to be fed and cared for. 

The farmers can now sell the oxen to others working in areas that are flatter and easier to plough. 

“Whereas before we would have to pay 15,000 Nepalese Rupees (around €134) for an ox to work in our fields, and it would take 12 hours to complete, now we can do the same work with a mini-tractor in about two hours, and it only costs us 5,000 Rupees,” explained Bhawanatha Paudel. 

63-year-old Bhawanatha (pictured above), one of the farmers benefiting from the mini-tractors, lives with his wife, three children, daughter in law and two grandchildren. 

Their home, located high up the hillside, was completely destroyed by the earthquake, forcing them into very difficult times as they struggled to get by. 

One of the benefits of the mini-tractors is that the farmers have time to do other things, and many are using the time to learn new skills and develop their farms.

“We have also been supported with polytunnel greenhouses, and training on how to grow vegetables without using lots of chemicals and pesticides. It all makes such a difference,” Bhawanatha told us, looking out over his steep terraces filled with tomatoes and cabbages.

“Our income has now increased so we have enrolled our grandchildren in a good school. Now they are wearing good clothes and have good food.”

But Bhawanatha has even bigger ambitions for the area. He recently set up a collection centre, where he and other local farmers can bring their extra vegetables to be sorted and taken together to market. He said: “I want to see the young migrants who left for work coming back and engaging with agriculture to benefit the whole of Nepal”.

Before distributing the mini-tractors, farmers were trained in how to use, maintain and repair them. One person in each ward has the responsibility of managing the mini-tractors, and money paid by farmers to loan them is used to repair or maintain the machines. 

“This is a real innovation here in the mountains” explained 42-year-old Lila Neupane from Laharepauwa village, another farmer who has been using and helping to distribute the mini-tractors. 

“I am also happy that the animals no longer need to do the heavy work they were forced to do for centuries,” he told us.

Bringing innovative techniques like these mini-tractors to remote communities is just one way we are helping people get back on their feet. 

With support from Trócaire, CordAid has also been helping villages in Rasuwa district with housing reconstruction and the building or restoring of toilets and water points which were all destroyed by the earthquake. 

It will take many years for Nepal to fully recover, but thanks to your donations, Trócaire’s partners have reached hundreds of thousands of people affected by the earthquakes. 

Trócaire supported 31,416 survivors of the Nepal to rebuild their lives last year.

Learn more about our response to the 2015 Nepal earthquake

April 26, 2017

East Africa hunger crisis in 5 stark numbers

​Prolonged drought is causing a widespread hunger crisis across East African countries. Somalia, South Sudan and parts of Ethiopia and Kenya are the worst affected.

Mary Akoye

Mary Akoye is one of 12,000 people in Yirol East State receiving monthly food rations from Trócaire and its partner CAFOD.

The numbers of people exposed to severe food shortages and hunger are stark and difficult to process. However, with a strong, unified effort, governments and NGOs could deliver the support needed to prevent widespread famine.

1. Over 20 million people in the region are experiencing ‘severe food insecurity’ according to UN estimates. And this is set to rise even further, following a poor March to May rainy season.  

2. 6.2 million Somalis, half the population, are experiencing severe food insecurity. The conditions are being compared to 2010-11, when famine took the lives of 250,000 people there. 

3. 5.5 million South Sudanese are expected to be in need of urgent food support by the height of the ‘hungry season’ in July. 100,000 people are facing starvation in parts of South Sudan where famine has officially been declared. An additional one million people are on the brink of famine. 

4. 5.6 million Ethiopians require emergency food assistance in southern Ethiopia, in addition to the 7 million who are already receiving government support.

5. 2.7 million Kenyans are in need of emergency support. A national disaster has been declared in Kenya, with the government appealing for international assistance. 

Trócaire’s response in the region

Trócaire is engaged in a major humanitarian response in East Africa.

In Somalia, we are focused on healthcare and tackling outbreaks of potentially lethal cholera and acute watery diarrhoea.

Trócaire has a strong, long-established presence in the Gedo region in southern Somalia.

We currently fund and run three hospitals, 10 primary health units and four health centres there.

We are also supplying clean water to 15 schools and three hospitals in the region.

We are working in partnership with other international NGOs in the country to deliver large-scale nutrition support to malnourished children, and pregnant and nursing women.

In South Sudan, Trócaire is providing monthly food rations to 12,000 of the most vulnerable people in Adior and Pagarau Counties of Yirol East State.

We are hoping to reach more people in the coming months with food aid and cash transfers, as well as repairing water boreholes in the East Lakes State. 

In Ethiopia, Trócaire is currently providing food aid and support to help preserve livelihoods to 58,500 of the most vulnerable individuals (9,765 households).

And in Kenya, we are currently trucking water to six schools in Barpello, East Pokot (Baringo County), as well as delivering supplementary feeding for 2,000 children in three medical units in Loima, Turkana County. We are working to secure funds to scale up our response in the country.

More information and updates on the situation in East Africa.