Lesotho + 5 more

Humanitarian organizations unite to fight starvation in Southern Africa

Coalition receives $114 million USAID grant to assist people in Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe
January 22, 2003, Johannesburg - The U.S. government has pledged to Catholic Relief Services, CARE and World Vision a $114 million emergency aid grant for a joint response to the severe food crisis in Southern Africa. The grant will provide emergency and supplementary food distributions, agricultural support and development training in Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe, the three countries hardest hit by the current crisis.

The Consortium for Southern Africa Food Security Emergency (C-SAFE) represents an unprecedented collaboration among three leading humanitarian organizations. Catholic Relief Services, CARE and World Vision have joined forces to provide a coordinated response to the food shortage and the related complexities of the existing HIV/AIDS pandemic, which has exacerbated the crisis.

The three-year grant will provide for 160,000 metric tons of food in the first year. Once the program is fully operational, C-SAFE is expected to assist nearly 2 million people each month, primarily women and children. The agencies will be distributing sorghum, bulgur wheat, corn/maize, cornmeal/maizemeal, pinto beans and vegetable oil.

"Our immediate goal is to save lives by getting food to people as quickly as possible, especially those communities decimated by the HIV/AIDS pandemic," said Steve Goudswaard, regional program unit manager, C-SAFE. "This coordinated effort will establish a food pipeline to complement emergency responses already in place and lay the groundwork for a lasting recovery in the region."

Poor rainfall, political instability and the HIV/AIDS pandemic have combined to create the most severe food shortage in more than a decade for Southern Africa. It is expected that more than 15 million people in Angola, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe will need food aid at least until March.

The C-SAFE program will involve a combination of free general food distributions, food-for-work projects, and supplementary feeding. The program will complement ongoing activities conducted by the three agencies in Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

C-SAFE's objectives are to meet immediate needs and develop long-term programs to strengthen resilience to future food shortages among vulnerable communities and households. These objectives will be met through food distributions and improved access to health services; training in agricultural productivity, improved water availability, and seed fairs; and training to improve communities' own early warning systems for future crises. All programs will include an HIV/AIDS component.

C-SAFE will be managed by the three organizations from a base in Johannesburg, South Africa, with each agency taking the lead in specific countries: Catholic Relief Services in Zambia, CARE in Malawi and World Vision in Zimbabwe. All three organizations are signatories of the Baltimore Declaration, a unified pledge of non-governmental organizations and the WFP to act in an effort to prevent famine from taking hold in parts of southern, eastern and western Africa.

Catholic Relief Services is the official international humanitarian agency of the U.S. Catholic community. The agency provides assistance to people in more than 87 countries and territories on the basis of need, not race, creed or nationality.

To contribute to Catholic Relief Services' efforts, send donations to:

Relief Services
Africa Hunger Crisis
P.O. Box 17090
Baltimore, MD 21203-7090

For more information about Catholic Relief Services and our programs around the world, visit our website at www.catholicrelief.org

Contact: Franne Van der Keilen (Baltimore)
(410) 951-7476
Paul Macek (Johannesburg)