Self Help Africa was created in the wake of the Ethiopian Famine of 1984/5 to create long-term solutions to hunger and extreme poverty in the region. The IFA supported one of its first actions – the shipment and distribution of 2,000 tonnes of Cara Donegal seed potatoes to famine affected communities in Ethiopia.
“Now more than ever, the compassion, empathy and generosity of spirit, so characteristic of our people in our best moments, are displayed by our awardees here today” President Michael D Higgins
“2016 saw the scale of humanitarian need in the world reach record levels with over 130 million people in need of humanitarian assistance. Ireland is committed to providing humanitarian assistance to ease the plight of civilians caught up in conflicts and natural disasters,” - Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Simon Coveney, T.D.
In 2009 Fr Patrick Devine SMA founded the Shalom Centre for Conflict Resolution and Reconciliation. It has now trained over 9,600 community leaders and village elders as peacemakers.
Over 24 million people currently rely on food aid in South Sudan, Ethiopia, Somalia and Kenya due to a combination of drought and conflict.
As head of the diplomatic corps in Ethiopia at the time of the famine, Archbishop Thomas White was responsible for coordinating the contributions of many countries and charities in support of those who were starving.
“We are being confronted with a human tragedy that requires a generous political and church partnership to help meet the needs of these vulnerable people."
The struggle of farmers in Ethiopia is the same as that of rural Ireland in the past says Eddie Downey Irish Farmers Association (IFA) President who has visited the country.