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Photo: World Renew
Photo by World Renew

This October, the United Church of Canada (UCC), one of 15 Canadian Foodgrains Bank (CFGB) members, joined with World Renew to reduce hunger, improve nutrition, and increase food security for 4,000 of the most vulnerable families struggling through the drought crisis in Zambia.
Through CFGB, The United Church of Canada is sharing over $874,000 (CND) for World Renew’s drought response project in Zambia. Working with the United Church of Zambia, a World Renew and UCC partner, this project will address local challenges of undernutrition and poverty for the people of the west Zambia province of Mwandi.

Home to the world’s largest waterfall, Zambia is a country of marvelous beauty, rich culture, and generous people. However, Zambia is currently suffering from severe food insecurity due to a strong El Nino. Its resulting drought has it rated as one of six countries with a Global Hunger Index rating of “Alarming” and the likelihood of 95% crop failure according to the Department of Agriculture. The western provinces face the highest levels of malnutrition, a situation intensified by low rain falls, high temperatures, and poor cloud cover.

Dr. Peggy Mulambya Kabonde, General Secretary of the United Church of Zambia, stated this past week: "We are so very grateful to have two partners in World Renew and The United Church of Canada who can come to the assistance of Zambians at their time of need. We give thanks for these very special relationships that allow us to work together as three united organisations to provide food assistance to 24,000 people in Mwandi over the next six months. The Christian community across Canada should be very proud to have two ambassadors in World Renew and UCC who are willing to cross the ecumenical divide to serve the most poor and vulnerable in this time of great need and disaster in Zambia."

In May 2019 World Renew, partnering with the United Church of Zambia and the Canadian Foodgrains Bank, initiated a five-month food assistance project for 2,000 households in 10 communities in the western Mwandi District. The intervention brought 81% of the 2,000 families to an acceptable food consumption level. Now, thanks to the UCC, this same food assistance will be extended to 4,000 households from October 2019 through March of 2020.

A monthly ration of maize meal, millet flour, beans, oil, and salt will address immediate nutritional concerns and increase communities’ daily food intake. The distribution of millet and cowpea seeds to the 4,000 households will be aligned to the planting season, addressing longer term hunger needs.

In addition to meeting nutrition needs, the program will also engage gender inequality, which often exacerbates the impact of poverty and hunger. By narrowing the gender gap and empowering girls and women to play a greater role in strengthening their own future, UCC and World Renew will help improve food stability, strengthen the community, and improve the situation for all vulnerable community members: the elderly, disabled, children, and girls at risk.

The current food situation in Zambia is one of crisis and scarcity. Yet the stories of Zambia do not often find their way into the news. For the United Church of Canada, this is a primary impetus for its partnering gift with the United Church of Zambia and World Renew: ensuring these beloved children of God are never forgotten.

For this commitment by the UCC, and for all the Canadians who continue to support the work in Zambia, World Renew holds the deepest gratitude.

In the words of World Renew’s Director of International Disaster Response Ken Kim, “The need for continued food security in this region is tremendous, and the people we serve face a multitude of challenges. We thank the United Church of Canada for their generosity, enabling us to work hand-in-hand with the church and people of western Zambia. We ask for our supporters’ continued prayers for the communities facing hunger who might be forgotten if not for the generosity of caring Canadians.”