CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 13 October 2018

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African women struggle more than others during food crisis

NAIROBI (CNS): The year 2011 was not good for women such as Joan Ochieng of Nairobi, Kenya. Just about everything was a struggle. 

“We were not treated fairly,” said the single mother, noting the many pressures, including spiralling food prices that caused her and her family of four children and one grandchild to often go to bed hungry. 

When things like rice doubled in price in six months, a bowl of porridge was often the only nourishment in a day in which eating three meals was almost unheard of and even two meals was often a rarity. 

That was not good for a woman who must also take anti-viral medicines for treating HIV, which can be debilitating on an empty stomach and it caused Ochieng to shake and experience nausea. 

These factors left the 41-year-old Ochieng, 41, who lives in the Kiamaiko section of Kenya’s capital city, pessimistic as the new year began. 

It also made her angry that her experiences and those of other poor Nairobi residents do not seem to be a priority for Kenya’s politicians—or for the larger world. 

Humanitarian agencies struggled in 2011 to raise funds and sustain public interest in the food crisis affecting the Horn of Africa, which impacted about 13 million people to varying degrees. Worst hit was Somalia and international agencies, such as the World Bank, have warned that as many as 750,000 Somalis are still vulnerable and could die from hunger-related causes through the first few months of 2012. 

The humanitarian response by international agencies, many with Church ties, has saved lives, particularly at the refugee camps in Dadaab, Kenya, across the border from Somalia. But as 2012 began, there were continued worries about recent attacks at the camp and ongoing security threats within Kenya. The east African nation has been on high alert in recent months because of its military response to threats from the radical Somali Islamic group al-Shabab. 

In the midst of these crises, the quieter, less-visible experiences of those like Ochieng and others who live in Nairobi and in other urban centres in the Horn of Africa, like Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, have been ignored and are a source of concern for social service workers in the region.......

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