Lesotho + 5 more

Severe food shortage in southern Africa updated Jan 2003

Hunger. Aids. Poverty. Right now many people living in southern Africa are battling all three at once. The massive food shortage affecting countries in the region is the result of a convergence of factors, some natural, like drought and floods, and some man-made. The HIV/AIDS pandemic is further complicating an already difficult situation for millions of men, women and children -- many of who are being orphaned by the disease and the hunger that is spreading across the region.
"We have an obligation as Christians to look out for our brothers and sisters around the world who are in need," said Catholic Relief Services' Executive Director, Ken Hackett during a recent visit to the region. To this end, CRS is working through Caritas, local partners and other international humanitarian organizations to respond to the hunger crisis that is threatening nearly 15 million people in Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Swaziland and Mozambique.

Catholic Relief Services Responds

CRS is responding to both the immediate and the long-term needs of those affected by the food security crisis in southern Africa. The agency is addressing the multiple problems of HIV/AIDS, agricultural recovery and delivering food aid to those in need. Recent activities include the following:


CRS, in consortium with CARE and World Vision, will begin to implement in the coming weeks 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 program will focus on health and nutrition, agricultural recovery, risk management/disaster preparedness and HIV/AIDS.


Has distributed a total of 1,209 tons (1,097 metric tons) of food to 18,284 beneficiaries in Malawi.

Will distribute 198 tons (180 metric tons) of corn in Blantyre, Malawi.

Is preparing for a second round of nutritional surveys in the Zomba and Chikwawa Districts of Malawi.

Will receive food to use in Food-For-Work programming and for children's supplemental feeding.

CRS and Cadecom (the Catholic Development Commission in Malawi) continue the food distributions in Zomba and Kasungu that began in July 2002. To better meet the need for food, monthly distributions were increased from 330 tons (300 metric tons) to 2,677 tons (2,429 metric tons) in September.

Received funding from the U.S. Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance for a $650,000 seeds and agricultural recovery program. CRS is using 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.


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.

Delivered 551 tons (500 metric tons) of local maize in Shangombo and Sioma. CRS also supplied 42 tons (38 metric tons) of maize seed and 7,500 cassava cuttings for planting to its partners.

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.


Received a grant from the UN Food and Agriculture Organization to fund three seed fairs in the Makoni district of Zimbabwe. The seed fairs will reach 3,000 beneficiaries.

Completed a second phase of food distributions to the Zimbabwe Association of Church-related Hospitals (ZACH) totaling 473 tons (429 metric tons). 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' partnership with ZACH allows them to expand their distributions throughout the country with ease.

Will receive maize, beans, oil and corn-soy blend for distribution to vulnerable populations.

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. More than 22,650 farmers have benefited from seed fairs in Zimbabwe.

Began distributing food in Masvingo in mid-September and will work with local Church partner CADEC on a distribution in the Mutare diocese. CRS and CADEC will extend their food distributions to the Makonde district as well in the coming weeks.

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


CRS has been working in Malawi since 1997 and maintains offices in both Lilongwe, Malawi's capital city, and a sub-office in Blantyre for the integrated food security program.

CRS has been working in Zambia since 1999. It became a stand-alone country program in 2001 and has an office in Lusaka.

CRS arrived in Zimbabwe in 1989 to coordinate and direct responses to the development and emergency needs of the region. In its 12 years in Zimbabwe, CRS has also coordinated a variety of development and relief efforts for the diverse populations of Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, Mozambique, and South Africa. CRS' Southern Africa regional office is in Harare.

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Copyright=A92002 CRS