Eritrea + 6 more

Africa in crisis updated Feb 2003

With school attendance rates dropping, HIV/AIDS spreading and favorable weather conditions continuing to elude many areas, people are asking: How can we help the people of Africa? What can we do to turn the tide and avert a full-blown famine?
Parts of Africa remain paralyzed by adverse weather conditions such as floods and droughts making it nearly impossible to grow the food they need to survive. Add to this the vulnerability of people suffering from HIV/AIDS who are especially in need of nutritious food to give them the strength they need to fight the disease.

The situation is critical. Some 34 million people in Africa are facing starvation while AIDS continues to ravage the population. In Zimbabwe alone there are 2,500 deaths per week from the disease. Catholic Relief Services staff are hard at work distributing food and seeds to those affected by the crisis and will continue to provide aid to those in need for as long as necessary.

Catholic Relief Services Responds

Southern Africa


  • CRS, in consortium with CARE and World Vision, has begun to implement an innovative regional collaborative response to the current crisis in the three most severely affected countries - Zimbabwe, Zambia and Malawi.

  • The Consortium for the Southern Africa Food Security Emergency program, or C-SAFE as it's more commonly known, represents a new and creative cooperation between international private voluntary organizations and the U.S. government in emergency response. The $114 million program focuses on health and nutrition, agricultural recovery, risk management/disaster preparedness and HIV/AIDS.


  • Has distributed 13,815 tons (12,533 metric tons) of food to 305,865 beneficiaries.

  • Received approval from the U.S. Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance for $2 million in support of the CoGuard consortium proposal for supplementary feeding programs. Africare is the lead agency in the consortium. CRS/Cadecom will meet 60 percent of the needs of children under five in three districts in Malawi.

  • Finished a second round of nutritional surveys in December in the Zomba District. Another round began in late January in the Chikwawa District.

  • Received funding from the U.S. Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance for a $650,000 seeds and agricultural recovery program. CRS used the funds to develop and hold seed fairs in seven dioceses in the country. Through seed fairs, vulnerable households in need of seed are given vouchers worth a specific cash value, which they use to purchase seeds from local seed sellers. The sellers in turn, redeem the vouchers for cash from CRS. The seed fairs began in November and will end this month. Thirty-eight seed fairs have been held and 30,400 farmers have attended so far.


  • Has distributed 726 tons (659 metric tons) of food to 70,000 beneficiaries.

  • Has distributed 110 tons (100 metric tons) of seed to 60,000 households.

  • Received $60,000 to purchase 66 tons (60 metric tons) of beans for distribution in the Shangombo District.

  • Conducted a nutritional assessment of children between six months and five years of age in the Shangombo District. Data on vaccination status, chronic illness, water and food sources, and sanitation facilities was gathered.

  • Designed, in cooperation with the Diocese of Livingstone, a Food-For-Work program to meet immediate food needs while encouraging farmers to adopt drought-mitigating conservation farming methods. CRS is also working with the Diocese to distribute government commodities to those in need.

  • Designed a drought mitigation and agricultural recovery project.


  • Has distributed 925 tons (839 metric tons) of food to 79,896 beneficiaries.

  • Has distributed 400 tons (363 metric tons) of seed to 25,499 households.

  • Received nearly $1.1 million dollars from the U.S. Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance to fund agriculture and nutrition programming. Some of this funding was used for innovative seed fairs, the last of which was held in Murewa on November 11. Nearly 26,000 farmers have benefited from seed fairs in Zimbabwe. The success of these seed fairs prompted additional support from the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

  • Completed three seed fairs in the Makoni district of Zimbabwe and will hold an additional three seed fairs in the Murehwa district. The seed fairs are being funded by a grant from the UN Food and Agriculture Organization.

  • Distributed 819 tons (743 metric tons) of fertilizer to seed recipients.

  • Is distributing 404 tons (367 metric tons) of food to the Zimbabwe Association of Church-related Hospitals (ZACH). ZACH hospitals account for 45 percent of all hospital beds (68 percent of all rural hospital beds) in Zimbabwe and are situated in every Province of the country. CRS is discussing the possibility of working with an additional 35 ZACH hospitals.

  • Conducted nutritional training sessions at hospitals in Mutero, Silveria, Moregenster, Matibi, Chikombedzi and at the Gutu Mission Hospital.

Eastern Africa


CRS is the lead agency among a consortium of humanitarian aid organizations working together through the Joint Emergency Operation Plan (JEOP) to distribute food resources to 1,748,670 beneficiaries in Ethiopia. In this capacity, CRS will administer food aid distributions to vulnerable populations within the country. On December 17, CRS began sending 24,030 tons (21,800 metric tons) of food to JEOP distribution sites where it is being given to needy populations within the country.


  • Efforts are underway in Eritrea to secure food aid for beneficiaries in the Northern Debub region of the country.

  • Planning is underway for the distribution of seeds and the rehabilitation of wells and water points.


A number of natural and man-made factors has converged to create a food crisis in Africa. More than 34 million people are in grave danger of starvation. Drought, floods, government policies on food aid, and HIV/AIDS have combined to create a situation that poses a serious threat to the both the short-term and the long-term health of the people of Africa.

In response, CRS along with other humanitarian relief organizations, the UN World Food Program and the U.S. Agency for International Development recently launched "Africa in Crisis", a global campaign to help those facing starvation on the African continent. CRS has been working in Africa for 56 years and is resolutely committed to averting another famine on the continent.

Your support is needed.

Donations can also be made by calling: 1-800-736-3467
or by sending checks to:
P.O. Box 17090
Baltimore, Maryland 21203-7090.

Copyright=A92003 CRS