Christians Provide Rwanda Drought Victims with Food

Christian Aid partners are continuing their food and seed distribution with 30,000 more people due to receive food rations over the next two weeks.

|TOP|Families in Rwanda that are worst hit by the severe drought affecting parts of the country have received food and seeds from Christian Aid partners. The UN warned last week that East Africa’s famine victims were ‘on their last legs’.

The Union of Baptist Churches in Rwanda (UEBR) received £50,000 from Christian Aid to provide the families with the food and seed aid, much of which has gone to the worst affected – the elderly, sick, people with HIV/AIDS, widows and orphans.

The drought in the southern and eastern provinces of Rwanda is the latest severe spell in four years of unpredictable rainfall. In some areas the serious lack of rainfall has completely wiped out bean, maize, sorghum and sweet potato harvests.

The impact of the drought has been exacerbated by the outbreak of foot and mouth disease in livestock and the devastation of much of the drought-resistant cassava crop caused by the infestation of a disease.

|AD|Rwanda is also becoming increasingly overburdened by the movement of people from neighbouring Burundi, which is facing similar food shortages, into the country in search of food.

The deaths of some older people and an increase in child malnutrition rates continue to be reported by Christian Aid partners and local authorities as predictions maintain that, even with good rains this season, there will be no harvest until June.

UEBR is working to distribute ration packs containing 10kg of beans, 13kg of maize and 10kg of sorghum per family and 10kg of beans seeds and disease-resistant cassava for planting. The packs will go to around 30,000 people over the next two weeks.

The current distribution may not be enough as the Famine Early Warning System Network warns that unless rains improve, the country will be hit by another food crisis later this year.

A spokesman for the UN’s Food and Agricultural Organisation warned that the estimated 11 million east Africans struggling with the drought-induced famine will not make it unless food aid is delivered immediately.

"It is real crisis. The drought began late last year and they are on their last legs," said Henri Josserand, the spokesman for the organisation's early warning service.
Mr Josserand told AFP that in the best case scenario the drought will last at least until May, while in the worst case the current crisis could last another four to five months.

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