NZ-supported community desperate for food aid
ChildFund is calling for urgent attention and donations as a New Zealand-supported community in Zambia struggles through its worst drought in decades.
Hot and dry El Niño weather, made more extreme by climate change, has disrupted water supplies and devastated crops across Eastern and Southern Africa, leading to severe food shortages.
“In Luangwa, Zambia – where New Zealanders’ support efforts are concentrated, the recent growing season finished before it began, with too little rain for crops to even germinate,” explains ChildFund New Zealand CEO Paul Brown.
“It has been disastrous for these rural subsistence farmers, and had a domino effect throughout the community that is particularly impacting young children.”
ChildFund’s aid and development work in the Luangwa District is almost entirely supported by New Zealanders through the sponsorship of 2,500 children, donations and New Zealand government grants, and in fact all of the sponsored children in the village of Chikondwelelo are sponsored by Kiwis.
“Together we’re already making a huge difference to the lives of children and their families here, but Luangwa needs a little more help from us this year.
“Locals are accustomed to dealing with some drought conditions, but this is the worst they’ve ever seen. People, including children, are eating just once a day, if at all, and there have already been deaths due to malnutrition.”
ChildFund’s New Zealand-led response will target food aid for 3,000 of the most vulnerable households across Luangwa (approximately 15,000 individuals including nearly 10,000 children) at a cost of NZD $150,000. Each family will receive up to eight months of basic supplies including maize, ground nuts and beans, enough to see them through to the next harvest.
“This food won’t just help fill hungry tummies – it will see children stave off the physical and mental deficiencies caused by malnutrition and be strong enough to attend school. Fewer families will be driven to desperate measures, doing whatever necessary to feed their children.”
Looking ahead, ChildFund New Zealand is working with the community to develop an innovative new irrigation system that will bring ample water for farming from the nearby river, mitigating future droughts.
Despite millions being affected by many months of drought across Southern Africa, global attention on the problem has been limited, says Mr Brown. “The global aid community has been responding to this crisis across Africa and Asia since last year, and been vocal about the lack of attention it is getting globally – despite being one of the world’s biggest disasters for tens of millions of people.
“This is not just a matter of hunger, but life and death for a growing number of children who are particularly vulnerable to the impacts of severe malnutrition.
“New Zealanders can do their part in responding by supporting those in our Kiwi-dedicated project area of Luangwa.”
Just $24 can feed a family for two months ($96 for the whole eight months). Donations can be made by clicking here.