Category Archives: Africa

With MWC’s help, church in Tanzania is built for mission

Global Church Sharing Fund helps construct church building in Muslim area

by MWC

TANZANIA—Budget constraints prevent many church buildings in Tanzania from being completed. Mennonite World Conference’s Global Church Sharing Fund is helping to assure that a mission church in a predominantly Muslim area won’t be one that stands unfinished.

Church-planting efforts of the Kanisa La Mennonite Tanzania (Tanzania Mennonite Church, or KMT) Eastern Diocese have produced three congregations in the Muslim area. In Msikisi, the largest of the three, MWC has contributed $10,000, and the KMT Eastern Diocese has given $15,000, to compete the church building.

MWC has contributed $10,000 toward completion of a church building in Msikisi, Tanzania. “It is a great joy to partner with MWC to meet the needs of our people,” said Bishop Steven W. Mang’ana.

The Msikisi congregation’s goals are reaching unreached people, providing a space to worship God and fellowship together, establishing social services and strengthening new Christians by equipping them with biblical principles.

“A church building is a space to encounter God,” Mang’ana said. “This encounter is one of the most basic acts of drawing the kingdom of God into the heart of a community. When we build a church building, we set a place for God. People go there to seek God together, to pray, mourn, celebrate, ask and seek God’s blessing. God responds.”

Mang’ana sees the building of a church as an imitation of biblical characters who built structures for worship, including the Shunamite woman (2 Kings 4:10), Moses (Ex. 33:7-11), David (2 Sam. 6:17), and Solomon (1 Kings 5:4-5).

“The partnership with MWC gives KMT the assurance of working with an organization that shares our values of faith, integrity and dignity,” he said. “This collaboration with MWC strengthens networking, results in sharing gifts and blessings.”


Severe food shortages in eastern Africa ‘alarming,’ says Foodgrains Bank


by Amanda Thorsteinsson

After responding to prolonged drought conditions in parts of Africa last year, Canadian Foodgrains Bank is gearing up to help more people affected by erratic weather conditions in eastern Africa in 2017.

The erratic weather—too much rain in some places, not enough in others—is hitting countries such as Somalia, Malawi, and parts of Ethiopia and Kenya the hardest.

The weather conditions are part of a particularly harsh El Nino weather event that began in 2015. Through its members, the Foodgrains Bank has so far responded to the El Nino crisis with nine projects, totaling $4.4 million.

“Such erratic weather conditions could be disastrous for vulnerable communities struggling to recover,” says Barbara Macdonald, who directs International Programs for the Foodgrains Bank.

“We are deeply concerned about the situation,” she says. “That so many people are again being affected by erratic weather is very alarming.”

Currently, the Foodgrains Bank is responding through its member World Renew in south-eastern Kenya with an emergency food project for 1,500 drought-affected households.

The project, which totals $495,000, is providing rations of maize, beans, oil and salt for four months, as well as a seed distribution packet aimed at helping families regain their livelihoods.

In another project, through its member Presbyterian World Service & Development, with financial support from The United Church of Canada, the Foodgrains Bank is providing emergency food for 3,470 households in southern Malawi for five months.

The assistance, which totals $762,000, will provide relief for families already struggling due to drought-induced crop failure in 2016.

“Through all of these projects, we are continually hoping and praying the rain will come to drought-affected areas at its usual time, and people can return to their normal activities,” says Macdonald.

“We do know, however, that more help is urgently needed,” she adds, noting that drought across Africa is expected to continue in the coming months.

One example where drought may have extreme consequences in the coming months is in Somalia. According to a report from the Inter Agency Working Group on Disaster Preparedness for East and Central Africa, a coalition of large international humanitarian agencies, famine is a possibility in Somalia, where five million people currently need humanitarian assistance.

This isn’t the first time the region has been impacted by severe weather. In 2011, famine was declared in Somalia, where 260,000 people died as a result of a prolonged drought and subsequent hunger crisis.

A lot of progress has been made since then, but this current crisis has potential to set back some of the gains that have been made.

“One of the things we learned from the 2011 crisis is that responding earlier is more effective than responding later,” says Macdonald.

“When you wait too long to respond, people have already sold off their livestock in exchange for food, or have already been forced to eat seed they could have used to plant when the rains come again,” she says. “This makes it doubly hard for them to regain their livelihoods when the crisis is over.” 

Editor’s Note: Recently the U. N. declared that parts of South Sudan are in a state of famine. CFGB and MCC, one of its partners, are responding and donations are sought. See the websites of CFGB and MCC for details.

Drought in southern Africa continues to be severe


Has uneven impact on children, people with HIV/AIDS

SOUTHERN AFRICA—The impact of the El Nino-related drought on people living in southern Africa continues to be severe. That is the message being shared by Barbara Macdonald, who directs International Programs for Canadian Foodgrains Bank (CFGB).

Poor harvests and crop failures that have come as a result of the drought have left many people dependent on buying food from their local markets, where high food prices have put pressure on family incomes.

Over half a million children are currently suffering from severe acute malnutrition in seven countries in the region, and over three million have had their access to safe water reduced by the drought.

Also at high risk are people being treated for HIV/AIDS; southern Africa is home to one-third of all people living with HIV/AIDS in the world.

Meanwhile, a World Food Programme survey in the southern Africa country of Zimbabwe found that about 80 percent of households in some regions of the country had either reduced the number of meals they ate each day or the amount of food eaten. Around 6,000 children have dropped out of school due to hunger, or because they need to help their families either by working or by getting water.

The Foodgrains Bank is responding to needs in southern Africa through its member agencies. In Zambia, CFGB member World Renew is responding to the crisis by providing 4,500 families, with a total household population of 31,500, with seven months of emergency food in return for their labour on community projects. This emergency food is helping families survive until they can harvest a crop again. Households that depend on small-scale farming are also receiving seeds to help them re-start production.