Oxfam says thanks to people of Kilkenny

Dear Editor,

Dear Editor,

Generous donations from people in Kilkenny in response to our recent appeal for the devastating food crisis gripping several countries across West Africa mean that Oxfam is responding with life-saving support where it’s needed most.

Some 18 million people across the region are struggling to cope with a lack of food because of drought and high food prices. Crops have failed on a mass scale and livestock is dying, often taking away people’s only means of earning a living.

Oxfam’s emergency appeal has presently raised more than €180,000 from the public throughout Ireland. We hope to reach as many as 1.8 million people in West Africa in coming weeks with vital food aid, cash-for-work schemes, water and sanitation and support for farmers’ crops and livestock

On a recent Oxfam and Concern trip to Niger and Burkina Faso, people were displaying amazing resilience in trying to cope with an extremely desperate situation.

But I saw babies so weak they could no longer cry for food, farmers losing their crops and parents forced to search anthills for tiny grains of millet seeds to feed their families. Thanks to all your readers who supported our work.

The recent announcement by the Irish government of €4.25 million in increased emergency funding is also most welcome.

While this tragedy has been unfolding for some months, many wealthy countries were slow to respond. The Irish government’s response shows clear leadership and sets a positive example that other international leaders should urgently follow if we are to avoid a catastrophe such as unfolded in Somalia and East Africa this time last year.

International funding is urgently required to avert this crisis, However, world leaders must address the global food situation to ensure that these continual food crises become a thing of the past. Investing in building the resilience of the region’s small-scale farmers is a necessary first step.

Jim Clarken

Chief Executive, Oxfam Ireland