A music blog from Ireland.
Irish musicians have joined forces with the promoter Harmonic and pledged their creative energy for an all-day musical fundraiser to raise awareness for the plight of the horrific number of 10 million people in famine-stricken East Africa. Held in Whelans on 25 September from 2pm, tickets are priced €15 with all proceeds going to Concern’s Horn of Africa Campaign.
The music on offer for the night is stupendously good and unbeatable value with some of the most exciting new sounds in Irish music on offer on a single, all-day bill. Although there are more to be announced, so far, the line-up includes And So I Watch You From Afar, Patrick Kelleher & His Cold Dead Hands, Retarded Cop, Tieranniesaur, Toby Kaar, Spies, We Are Losers, Last Days Of 1984, Moths, Great Lakes Mystery, SertOne, Alarmist, White Collar Boy, Daithi, Angkorwat and REID.
Along with the accomplished talents of Nialler9, I will be popping my DJ-berry and spinning out the best Irish tunes that you (may or may not) know from Harmless Noise.
A huge continent, it’s sadly not surprising that over the past century Africa has seen more than its share of hardship. There is hardly a corner of the land that has not faced some form of difficulty by way of aggression, civil war, corruption, disease, drought, famine and oppression. In this respect, East Africa has borne horrific injustices for many years. An important territory in World War 2, the region has never been out of the news for long and most people are familiar with the images of sunken, starving children from the Ethiopian famine or the desperately overcrowded refugee camps of Darfur in western Sudan. Kenya is one of the most fertile places on the entire continent with a huge export trade in tea and coffee, agriculture contributing 24% of the GDP and employment of 75% of the workforce but reliance on rain along with government corruption has seen its civilians suffer from lack of food. Today, Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia are in the grip of a double disaster – drought and famine.
So far donations from the Irish public have raised over €3 million for Concern’s Horn of Africa campaign which is already working with 500,000 people. In July Concern Worldwide’s CEO Tom Arnold defined three urgent steps to tackle the problems people are facing.
“First, there needs to be a major focus on saving the lives of severely malnourished children through the scaling up of therapeutic feeding and basic health services. Second, there needs to be a rapid increase in the supply of food and, where there is some amount of food available in local markets, cash and/or food vouchers need to be given to people to purchase that food. Third, there needs to be a rapid increase in getting seeds and tools and livestock to farmers and pastoralists in advance of the expected rainy season that is due – and there is no guarantee that will transpire adequately – in late September or early October.”
Overseas director of Concern, Paul O’Brien, thanked the Irish people in a recent statement and outlined how desperate the situation is and will remain until further action is taken.
“Over 3.7 million people in Somalia – that’s half the population – urgently need life-saving assistance,” continues Mr O’Brien. “In some areas the rate of malnutrition is over a staggering 50%, the situation is desperate,” he says.
Concern has been working in both Shabelle and Mogadishu for the last 25 years. Local markets are operating in these areas and the agency is distributing food vouchers to families. Each voucher is worth €50 and enables people to buy enough food for a month from local storekeepers. This support is vital for people and “it is imperative that this continue at least until the end of the year,” warns Mr O’Brien.
Other countries in the region are also in dire need of assistance. In Northern Kenya Pastoralists are seeing their herds of cattle wiped out and the rates of malnutrition in rural areas has increased dramatically.
At a Concern nutrition centre in Marsabit, Kenya, one man, Hadumo Llimo, told staff he had walked 50km with his family to find assistance. “I was a pastoralist but now I have nothing, all my animals are dead. I have nothing to feed my family, look how weak they are, I don’t know what to do. I came here looking for assistance. I have never seen a drought so bad”.
It’s particularly important that while aid agencies strive to help feed those in immediate need, they are also looking at the longer-term implications that people face with no livelihood. A large proportion are nomadic pastoralists with no fixed abode and few possessions who rely on herding cattle across the vast eastern plains as way of life. As drought and lack of food affect their livestock, many destitute families have already become institutionalised to living on food aid in the refugee camps without any provisions for the future. While Concern is dedicated to helping the starving, they also want to equip families with agricultural supplies of seeds, tools and livestock to help bring a level of self-sustainability. It’s really quite harrowing to realise that while people cling tenuously to life, a family can be fed for a month on a donation that’s equal to one month’s daily fresh caffeine fix.