The world is currently facing one of the worst hunger and malnutrition crises in human history, with escalating conflict and an increase in extreme weather events due to climate change driving a massive food emergency. About 50 million people in 45 countries are threatened by severe hunger.
Tearfund’s partners are working hard in some of the countries hit hardest by the crisis, including Uganda, Somalia, Ethiopia, South Sudan, Afghanistan and Yemen. They are delivering emergency assistance, and, crucially, they are also working with communities over the longer term to equip them to withstand future climate shocks. Thank you for your prayers and support for our partners and the communities they are working with at this extremely challenging time.
In Uganda, more than a quarter of households are experiencing some form of food insecurity. High dependence on agriculture – three quarters of Ugandans live in rural areas – means that climate disruptions have a serious impact on livelihoods. Climate shocks like drought, flooding and heat waves contribute to – among other things – crop failure, land degradation and livestock loss. Research conducted in 2021 in the Karamoja and Busoga sub-regions of Uganda found that 76 per cent of people had had their livelihoods disrupted by environmental changes during the previous year.1
While other parts of the country have experienced floods this year, the Karamoja region, in the country’s north-east, is currently in drought. In addition, inflation has sent up the cost of living, fuel and all farming related costs. Staff from Tearfund’s local Christian partner Vision TERUDO have been implementing emergency food distribution and support for malnourished children in Karamoja in response to the drought and severe food shortages there. Some of the communities are part of a longer term project Vision TERUDO is running, which aims to engage local people in producing their own food and adapting to the effects of climate change.
Joseph, a staff member from Vision Terudo, says that while many families are still grappling with severe food shortages and hunger, the emergency distribution is helping.
“Karamoja received a small amount of rain, but it was not sufficient for people to plant and hope for a second harvest,” he said.” The first rains (late) did help a small amount of crop to grow which has recently been harvested, but is insufficient. The emergency food distribution will help communities for a few months, but they are foreseeing that there will be ongoing challenges in the first few months of 2023, until hopefully a timely rain can help with crops.”
Africa is the continent set to be most impacted by climate change. After four consecutive failed rainy seasons, the Horn of Africa is currently experiencing its worst drought in 40 years, and more than 26 million people there don’t have enough food to eat.
In Somalia, catastrophic hunger levels and drought conditions have forced many people to flee their homes and move to settlements in urban areas in search of humanitarian assistance.
Helen Fernandes, Tearfund’s Program Officer for Somalia, Sudan & Uganda, says the situation there is heartbreaking. “After so many difficult years, this recent drought is leaving people very vulnerable, with humanitarian assistance spread thin or in many places just totally insufficient. The number of people affected and estimated to be impacted in the coming months is just so high. There are estimates that 1.8 million children – that’s half of Somalia’s child population – may face acute malnutrition between now and July 2023.
Conflict and the search for food means that there is so much movement – families are moving away from their support networks to find aid, safety and food. Tearfund’s partner Medair is doing a fantastic job utilising its extensive health facilities, well-trained staff and local knowledge to provide treatment for malnourished children, knowledge to mothers on feeding practices during this time of scarcity and psychosocial support during this incredibly difficult time.
Medair runs local clinics, health facilities and nutrition outreach clinics that provide treatment for acute malnutrition. Medair has been distributing therapeutic food to treat children who are suffering malnutrition, and making sure that malnourished children are quickly referred to health facilities for further treatment when it is needed.
For two-year-old Bashir* and his family, this support was crucial. After Bashir was diagnosed with severe acute malnutrition, a Medair volunteer quickly connected him to a local hospital where he could be given the treatment he needed. A few days later he was well enough to be discharged, and received the follow-up support he needed.
Bashir’s grandmother didn’t leave his side while he was in hospital. “You have saved the life of my little grandson and many other children,” she said.
Severe drought is also crippling communities across Afghanistan, where 60 per cent of families rely on farming for their livelihoods and food and fertiliser prices have been driven up by the war in Ukraine. This comes on the heels of the change in government in Afghanistan in August 2021, the economic and humanitarian impacts of which have been widespread.
Tearfund’s partners are standing alongside people in Afghanistan. They have been supporting internally displaced people with food, shelter and hygiene supplies, and helping communities in their recovery, by providing income generating opportunities and mental health support.
Mr Jinah*, a young man who lives in the country’s north-east, used to work as a labourer, but lately his work opportunities have decreased and he’s been struggling to support his family. Tearfund’s partner provided his family with a cow, and Mr Jinah makes curd and butter from the cow’s milk. His family uses some of this, and sells the surplus in a shop near their home. The income they’re generating is helping them to get by.
Our local partner has also shared the story of Kadir Khan*, who was finding it difficult to find work and support his family. Our partner provided him with the funds to set up a bicycle mechanic business. Nearly a year on, his business is doing well and he’s earning enough of an income to support his family of five. Next, he hopes to expand his business so that he can provide employment opportunities to others.
1. “Living in the climate crisis: young people in Uganda” https://www.cisl.cam.ac.uk/files/living_in_the_climate_crisis_5nov2021.pdf
* Names changed for security reasons.
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