Church responds as hunger hits Tanzania

Church partners of Tearfund are helping to feed more than 10,000 Tanzanians who are going hungry due to poor harvests and rising food prices.

Almost 1.25 million people in northern Tanzania are suffering shortages, most of them in the regions of Shinyanga and Mara, where rains have failed or been erratic. The country’s government has declared the drought-induced situation a national disaster.

Cereal and vegetable crop yields are down and the condition of livestock has deteriorated. Worryingly, some families have been eating seed stocks to get by but this will put future harvests at risk.

Prices have rocketed, with maize and beans costing double the amount they were last summer.

Our partner, the Africa Inland Church of Tanzania (AICT) Diocese of Shinyanga, is responding in its local communities, targeting the most vulnerable families with supplies of maize, beans and cooking oil.

Dozens of farmers are also receiving training on how to mitigate the impact of climate change on their crops.

AICT Diocese of Mara and Ukerewe, which has been doing relief projects since 1997, is also helping its communities, where there’s been a severe drought for two years. . Livestock fatalities

Here maize, millet, sorghum and cassava crops have been hit hard by the drought and much livestock has perished.

AICT surveys in the region revealed at least 15,000 people are living on one meal a day.

A spokesman said, ‘Children have stopped going to school. Families are selling whatever they have to but food.’

Another knock-on is that the effectiveness of antiretroviral drugs, taken by people living with HIV, is declining because of the diminishing level of nutrition in patients.

As well as food, our partners are giving families maize and sorghum seeds for planting in the hope of better rains in the coming season.

Today’s crisis follows poor rainy seasons in 2009 which caused food and cash crop production to plummet by between 50 and 70 per cent.