Since fighting broke out in mid-December between rival army factions in South Sudan, plunging the new country into widespread conflict pitting communities against one another, thousands, perhaps as many as 30,000 people, have died; 1.5 million have been forced from their homes and around four million require humanitarian assistance, with food insecurity the main concern. Link
Now, fewer than 1,000 remain in the city, the rest having fled amid a veritable pogrom carried out in reprisal for atrocities committed by an alliance of mainly Muslim rebels who had seized power in March 2013.
Those left behind are stuck in ghettos or makeshift camps, protected by African Union troops but still surrounded by units of hostile anti-balaka militiamen. Link
West Pokot, at the edge of the Rift Valley in Kenya, is a vast county where luscious green mountains meet scorched savanna. Action Against Hunger and the Kenyan Ministry of Health are supporting families with malnourished children across the county, as well as addressing some of the difficulties they face in accessing treatment. Photo by: Samuel Hauenstein Swan link
Researchers from the climate change, agriculture and food security research programme of the Consultative Group on Agricultural Research and the University of Oxford’s Environmental Change Institute recently held a series of workshops in east and west Africa to find out what matters to farmers, how they perceive their present and future challenges and how they can be empowered to tackle them. Here is how farmers from Othidhe village, in Nyanza province, south west Kenya, responded.
If it’s true that we humans learn from our mistakes in life then I should have been a genius at the age of 14. That’s according to my wee mum, who it must be said has had more than her fair share of worries since bringing me into the world. It was impossible for me to understand this until I had kids of my own.
I can still remember vividly the births of both of my sons and the overwhelming emotions that pulsed through me. The desire to keep them safe, to protect them, to teach them and give them better experiences and opportunities in life than I had. All of these emotions grow as your child grows, they develop as they do and become stronger.
It’s with this in mind that I want to write about the story behind a photograph I took in Malawi in March 2006.
I was spending a few weeks there with the charity Concern to make a photo story about dreadful food shortages which were blighting the country. Myself and a writer Alan Martin lived in a village called Mgwindhi, in central Nkhotakota, where we slept on the floor of the chiefs hut. It was an incredible experience where we were shown the most amazing hospitality and kindness by everyone we met. As part of our work we visited a clinic where we met a young woman called Enifa Banda. Enifa was 30 years old and had walked for days to attend the clinic with her 6 month old twin babies. The babies were called Mercy and Memory.
Even as I type this now I can’t make sense of the unbearable pain Enifa must have endured. Herself malnourished Enifa was producing hardly any breast milk for one child let alone two hungry babies. She had been forced to make an unthinkable decision. Enifa had to pick which child she should feed in attempt to keep one of her children alive. She named the child she fed Mercy, and the second child who was given no milk whilst she tried to find help was called Memory.
When Enifa made it to the clinic it was already too late for poor little Memory. In the photograph below Enifa cradles Mercy as Memory struggles for breath on the bed at her mothers side.
We heard later that Memory lived for a few hours after we left the clinic and then passed away at her mothers side.
Some parts of East Africa and the Horn are experiencing the worst drought in 60 years. In Kenya, a local initiative, Kenyans for Kenya, has rallied citizens to donate funds to feed the hungry; much of the money has been raised through cash transfers done by mobile phone. Caroline Mutoko, a presenter at KISS FM, one of the country’s biggest radio stations, has been one of the campaign’s most vocal supporters. In this film, she explains the objectives of Kenyans for Kenya.