Though your pages would you permit me to express my sincere thanks to all of the people of Tipperary who lent their support to the work of Self Help Africa, in the past year.
We are well aware that many people have less money to spend, and less that they can afford to give to charity in these difficult financial times.
Yet the people of Ireland remain remarkable in their kindness and generosity, and in 2011 we saw time and again examples of the empathy and understand that exists in this country for the poor of Africa, with whom we work.
In 2011 we were all reminded again of the extreme vulnerability of tens of millions of Africa’s rural poor – when haunting images hunger and famine in Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya returned to haunt us.
People rightly wonder ‘how can this be’ and question whether the problems of Africa will ever be solved?
Self Help Africa believes that is that significant progress has, and is being made – but that more is needed if images of hunger and famine are to be consigned to history forever.
There is a greater awareness today of the huge importance of small scale agriculture in sub-Saharan Africa, and the vital role that farming must play if Africans – the majority of whom live on the land – are to live free from hunger and poverty.
It might be difficult to discern but during the recent Horn of Africa crisis that message could already be seen – as we witnessed how regions of Ethiopia that had been most affected by drought, did not experience the same ravages as their neighbours in Somalia.
This was in part because of sustained recent investment and support for farmers and food production systems across Ethiopia, and the resulting ability of communities to cope better with the kind of extreme weather events that occurred in 2011.
At Self Help Africa we believe that farming communities are vital not alone to averting future famine, but must also at the heart of our efforts to lift millions of African people out of extreme poverty. It is a vision that is shared by people across Ireland – and for their support in the past year we are sincerely grateful.
Ray Jordan, CEO, Self Help Africa