In March 2017, a drought in east Africa, combined with terrible violence between the government and rebels, had created a famine in South Sudan. One of CAFOD’s staff based in the country, Emergency Programme Manager Michael O’Riordan, visited people in March to give out food. At that time he reflected on the emotion and power of the experience.
A haunting refrain
When I was leaving Yirol in central South Sudan following a food distribution, an elderly gentleman in his late 60s kept asking why he wasn’t on the list to receive food. He couldn’t work and therefore couldn’t earn a living. Clearly disabled and using a walking stick, he kept pleading “why am I not deserving?”.
This haunting refrain has echoed in my ears ever since. It is not that he is not deserving; we just don’t have enough for everyone.
Having returned to this community after just a few months since the last food distribution, we found a bad situation far worse than we could have imagined. Although we are responding as best we can, it is beyond our ability to meet all needs.
CAFOD’s World News Manager, Nana Anto-Awuakye has returned from Ethiopia where 10 million people currently face extreme hunger. She visited CAFOD’s partner the Ethiopian Catholic Secretariat, based in the capital Addis Ababa, and met with Shiferaw Mamo, the Humanitarian Programme Coordinator. He spoke to her about the role of the Church in tackling the devastating effects of the worst drought the country has seen in 30 years.
Pinned to the walls of Shiferaw Mamo’s office is a large map of Ethiopia with map pins marking the regions that have been hit hardest by Ethiopia’s severe drought.