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Caterina 21

Harvests hang in the balance

World hunger is growing as a global food crisis – driven by conflict, climate and economic shocks – grips regions of east Africa and beyond.

50 million people are on the brink of famine, and without urgent action, this hunger crisis will kill more people annually than the entire COVID-19 pandemic. The numbers are staggering, but behind these stats are real people: people whose livelihoods are under threat and whose futures are uncertain, yet who are facing these challenges with courage and resilience.

This is Caterina’s story.

Caterina and her family rely on farming for their food and livelihood. They know just how vulnerable this can make them – and just how resilient they can be with access to the right tools and farming practices.

Caterina is a member of a local farmers’ group set up by Tearfund’s partner Sudan Evangelical Mission (SEM), who respond to food and economic insecurity in the region of Mundri, South Sudan. For over 20 years, Tearfund has partnered with SEM as they have faithfully served communities through years of violent conflict and the impacts of an increasingly harsh climate.

Gulliver Ishmael, Director of SEM, reflects on the challenges that local communities have faced that are driving the hunger crisis. “Rains in South Sudan started late this year again, and in Mundri there was lack of rain also after the cultivation, affecting the already planted crops,” he shared. “There was also a worm which destroyed crops in some areas during the months of April and May. Currently, there is a growing hunger crisis in Greater Mundri areas. Now the rains have started again and we hope that the communities will harvest something to help them out.”

Last year, Caterina and other farmers in the area suffered the loss of crops as the rain they were waiting for arrived too late and too heavy. But the training she received from SEM meant that Caterina was prepared to meet the challenges of an unpredictable climate, support her family, and improve her farming techniques for future seasons.

“In my farming, I have faced so many challenges… poor methods of planting, land preparation, weed management and storage. Crops on the small amount of land were always under attack from disease and pests, and we did not know how to counter them.”

Caterina, a farmer in South Sudan, sorts her harvest. Tearfund's partner SEM have helped Caterina improve her livelihood through farming despite conflict, climate and economic shocks driving a growing hunger crisis in the region.

In my farming I have faced so many challenges... we did not know how to counter them. ...The knowledge and skills I have acquired during training have really made a big difference.

Caterina Farmer

Now, techniques in crop production, pest and disease management, land preparation and crop diversity are making a transformative difference for Caterina and the other farmers in her group.

“Though it has been interrupted by the heavy rainfall, the little I have harvested has helped my family. From my small yield, I managed to pay school fees and welfare for my family members, save some to sustain the living standard of my family and purchase medication,” Caterina shared. She hopes the income from her produce will allow her to access more land to cultivate, too.

“The knowledge and skills I have acquired during training have really made a big difference. It has improved my farming activities, I expect to receive a good harvest this year and my family shall have access to their basic needs.”

Caterina has hope for the future.

But the unfolding hunger crisis means that the work of Tearfund’s partners as they support people like Caterina is now more important than ever.

Together, we can make a difference at this critical time.

Hunger Crisis Appeal

Your support can help those hardest hit by this crisis.

Can provide life-saving health and nutrition care for children at risk of malnutrition.

Can provide seeds, tools and training in sustainable agriculture for farmers groups.

Can help families better provide for themselves with strengthened livelihoods.

Can provide immediate assistance and long-term support for communities at risk of disaster.

Melody Murton is Content Lead at Tearfund Australia