This Fast Day, October 5, CAFOD urgently needs your help to deal with the worsening crisis in Zimbabwe
With food supplies already running short and a poor harvest forecasted, usual coping strategies are simply not enough this year.
One in three people are expected to be without food by March and many will run out very soon.
In response to this crisis, CAFOD has decided that all money raised from Fast Day will now go to helping the most vulnerable people in Zimbabwe.
For copies of this year's Harvest Fast Day Mass Talk and other resources, please contact your local CAFOD office.
Coping strategies not enough
According to the United Nations, this year Zimbabwe's total harvest was 40% down on the previous year. And many areas harvested less than half their usual crop.
This time of year is known as the Hunger Gap - it's when supplies from the previous harvest are running short and the next harvest is not due until April.
Usually people will take on casual work, or they rely on their savings, to buy extra food. But these coping strategies are not enough this year.
Spiralling inflation has wiped out people's savings and there is very little casual work available. Across Zimbabwe bad harvests, high unemployment, high levels of HIV and AIDS and continued instability have combined to make daily life a struggle.
Appeal for help
The Zimbabwean Catholic Church has asked CAFOD for urgent help. Rev Robert Ndlovu, Archbishop of Harare says: "On behalf of my Zimbabwean brothers and sisters living in hunger, I appeal to their fellow Christian brothers and sisters to walk alongside them during this difficult time in faith and Christian charity.... Our message of hope remains: 'God is always on the side of the Oppressed'."
Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor has sent a message of support for CAFOD's Fast Day appeal for Zimbabwe: "Many of us have held the people of Zimbabwe close in prayer over the last few years and watched with sadness as it continues to decline into poverty and conflict.
"I urge the Catholic community to support CAFOD's appeal for Zimbabwe and to remember the people of Zimbabwe in their prayers."
Fast Day donations
CAFOD Director, Chris Bain, has written a letter to CAFOD's parishes explaining why Fast Day funds are to go to Zimbabwe this year.
In it he says: "Fast Days normally support CAFOD's long-term work. However, the situation in Zimbabwe has become so critical that we need to take action now.
"With your help, CAFOD can provide food as well as seeds and tools for the next harvest, and support people in increasing their harvest for next year."
On Friday October 5 CAFOD is launching a =A34 million appeal for Zimbabwe. The emergency response programme will provide more than 120,000 people in some of the worst affected areas with food supplies and seeds and tools.