This Lent, the UK government will match, pound for pound, all public donations to the campaign in Northern Ireland, up to a maximum of £5 million.
This will support programmes in Ethiopia for the next three years and help improve the lives of tens of thousands of people.
Last year, thanks to the amazing generosity of our supporters in Northern Ireland, particularly through parishes and schools, more than £2 million donated during the Lenten campaign 2014 was matched, pound for pound, by the UK government through the ‘UK Aid Match’ scheme.
That extra money has been put to work in Zimbabwe and Malawi to help support wide-reaching programmes there.
A great example of the difference that can be made is in the village of Mbuso, Zimbabwe, where a Trócaire-supported irrigation scheme has enabled people to produce their first crop of sugar beans. The scheme is very simple – a solar-powered pump has been buried in a dry riverbed and pumps water from deep underground to a large storage tank. The water is then fed down plastic piping to irrigate the vegetable gardens.
Not only do farmers avoid the high cost of electricity, they are also setting a precedent for using renewable and clean sources of energy for low cost food production.
“Even in the middle of winter there is no shortage of sunshine here so the pump will always have power,” says Najabulo Maphosa (30), one of the farmers benefitting from the project. “We are no longer dependent on the weather like before”.
It’s a perfect example of how Trócaire is helping people become self-reliant both now and for generations to come.
Njabulo Maphosa with the solar panels that power the water pump for the village irrigation system. Photo: Margaret Masanga
In Maphisa village, Thandiwe Ncube (53) remembers a time when she dug for water on the sandy riverbed near her home. Sometimes she dug for hours for the single bucket of water her family needed to survive each day.
“The nearest borehole is 3 or 4 kilometres away,” explains Thandiwe. “We had either to walk up and down in the scorching sun or cut the time short by digging for water here on the riverbed.”
Trócaire responded to the problems faced by the village by implementing a project to help trap rainwater in a reservoir. Thandiwe, who is a widow with four children, joined other members of the community to make the reservoir a reality.
Now when it rains, instead of the water draining away it can be trapped and used by the whole community. The availability of this water has revived the area. The villagers are able to irrigate their crops and access drinking water close to their homes.
“Now I can spend more time farming and growing vegetables which I can sell to buy books for my grandchildren. I am inspired,” Thandiwe says.
Thandiwe has also become involved in other ways of making money to support her family. In the bushes surrounding the reservoir, she and other women use mud and water to mould bricks which are sold locally.
For Thandiwe, water is important to everything she does even in the most basic way. “Look at me, I am clean. Our clothes used to be dirty all the time. Now I wash them often, whenever I want.”