Coronation street actor Ben Price, an ambassador for aid agency CAFOD, is calling for urgent action after visiting communities in Eastern Uganda suffering from severe hunger due to an extended dry spell.
Ben travelled to the Karamoja region of Uganda to see how communities were being affected by a lack of food and water, and how crucial the work of CAFOD’s local partners has been in providing support, building livelihoods and keeping the peace within communities facing severe shortages.
He is now backing CAFOD’s Dig Deep fundraising campaign, which starts next month, raising funds to help provide some of the world’s poorest communities with food, seeds, tools, agricultural training and other vital services such as health and education.
Following his visit, Ben said:
“It was quite shocking to see how people really are living day to day, hand to mouth, and to hear what a struggle it is for some people just to find enough food to stay alive. Over recent months, the whole world has been focused on the humanitarian crises in the Philippines and Syria, but we’ve also got to realise there are these hidden hunger emergencies in countries like Uganda, where the need for action is just as urgent.
“I spoke to women who told me that they have to leave their children each morning – sometimes for the whole day – to forage for food, or find wood to sell in order to buy something to eat. They told me they foraged for fruit which sounds nutritious but when you see what they are actually eating its berries and leaves, or small figs and tamarind dried out by the relentless sun.
“We live in a world which produces enough food for everyone, so it makes no sense that one in eight people around the world go hungry each day – and almost one in three people in countries like Uganda. Access to food is such a basic human right, but when crops fail or the rains don’t come, the communities I met can find themselves on the brink of starvation.
“The reasons people go hungry can sometimes be very complex, whether it’s climate change, conflict, or a lack of suitable farmland. But what I have seen is that there are also very simple solutions – ways CAFOD are helping people to feed their own families without having to rely on emergency hand outs – whether it’s helping them to grow crops which are drought-resistant, or working to resolve conflicts over resources.
“Everyone raising funds or donating money during the Dig Deep campaign can be sure that their efforts will make a huge difference in countries like Uganda, and help some of the poorest and most vulnerable families in the world to put food on their tables.”
CAFOD has been working in Uganda since 1985 to reduce conflict, improve basic needs, provide emergency nutrition during drought periods, and help communities argue for better support from the government.
CAFOD’s partner, Caritas Moroto, ensures better access to food and water for the most vulnerable communities, helping families to grow more food and improve their household income by selling surplus produce. To reduce malnutrition and the need for emergency food aid, Caritas Moroto provides drought-resistant seeds and trains farmers to help them increase their harvest. They also teach bee-keeping skills so that communities can produce and sell honey.
In parallel with Dig Deep, CAFOD’s Hungry for Change campaign is calling for more aid to be directed at small-scale farmers to help them grow their businesses and feed their communities not just their families. It is also calling for better checks on the power of multinational food companies so that the global food system better supports the poor and everyone has enough to eat.