Fri. Apr 19th, 2024

Churches in Suffolk are raising money to help farmers in Tanzania combat the effects of climate change.

The Bishops’ Lent Apppeal at the Diocese of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich is paying for training and equipment in Kagera.

The Church and Community Mobilisation Process (CCMP) in Tanzania also provides seeds for drought resistant crop varieties.

“We see climate change with our own eyes,” said CCMP leader Thomas Shavu.

“There is a lot of evidence; streams are disappearing; potato, cassava and bananas, they are getting blight.

“Farmers are struggling to know when to plant their crops.”

Mark Bee Tanzania farmers work on a strip of land with forest in the backgroundMark Bee
Farmers in Kagera say the seeds being provided are hardier and more resistant to diseases, ensuring a high yield
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) – a United Nations body – has said it is “indisputable” that human activities are causing climate change.

Mr Shavu said: “In years back, they would know ‘this is the planting season, this is the weeding season’, but nowadays no-one knows.

“The rain may come early, but then stop. If you plant, then plants would dry. Or you plant late and the rain continues.

“Sometimes it’s very heavy and causes flooding, or comes with winds and destroys crops.”

What you should know about climate change in Africa
The Church of England in Suffolk has had a partnership with the diocese in Kagera since 1994, with regular exchange visits.

Last year’s appeal raised £25,000, and the diocese said it reached more than 50 villages, teaching new farming methods, supplying seeds and saplings, and training people to build rainwater tanks.

It also paid for training for a local doctor in ophthalmology, provided bursaries for students in theology and bought motorbikes to help priests get around their parishes.

Mark Bee Reverend Mark Bee and Bishop Mike Harrison stand in front a mural on an African school wall with images of students and colourful writingMark Bee
Reverend Mark Bee and Bishop Mike Harrison visited schools, farms and churches on a two-week visit
Last month, the Reverend Dr Mike Harrison, Suffragan Bishop of Dunwich, visited Kagera along with eight vicars and curates from Suffolk.

Speaking at the end of the two-week trip, he said: “The priests that have come out here go back, and having been inspired here, inspire the congregations of which they are part of.

“Every person that is inspired by this link becomes a string, if you like, a little thread that goes together.

“And as those threads gather we make them into a strong rope that becomes something that strengthens the link between us.”

By Joy

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