KENYA: Laudato Si Marks 8th Anniversary, Movement Calls for Action as Over 5 Million Face Starvation

By Arnold Neliba

NAIROBI, MAY 26, 2023 (CISA) In a celebration to mark 8 years since the publication of Pope’s encyclical Laudato Si, the Laudato Si movement in Kenya and Africa has expressed solidarity with victims of drought and hunger while calling for an immediate response to alleviate the suffering of over 5 million Kenyans estimated to be suffering from the severe effects of drought.

“This is an invitation to understand that climate change and in fact environmental degradation affects adversely the poor and the vulnerable persons in our society. That is why in our intention, we are remembering the drought that has affected so many people in our country Kenya and our neighbouring countries,” said Fr Dr Peter Mbaro, Director at the Center for Social Justice at the Catholic University of Eastern Africa (CUEA).

In his reflection during Mass on May 26 to mark the Laudato SI week under the theme “Hope for the earth. Hope for humanity”, Fr Mbaro, an animator of Laudato Si associated the suffering caused by the prolonged drought with the dire consequences of the destruction of the environment.

“We have to look around us and see the environmental degradation,” he stressed while noting that “Instead of preserving the goods of creation we, due to our greed and irresponsible behaviour, have destroyed what God created and saw that it was very good.”

According to the International Rescue Committee, about 5.4 million people are projected to face high levels of acute food insecurity between March and June this year, out of which 1.2 million people will likely be in the emergency phase. The projection made in February 2023 highlighted a 43% increase in people facing high levels of food insecurity compared to the same period last year.

Besides his remarks centred on the care for the earth and responding to the cry of the poor, Fr Mbaro also invited considerations in ecological economics, adoption of a simple lifestyle to avoid wastage, embracing ecological education, ecological spirituality and community engagement which he says “have to inform the understanding and care of mother earth.”

“May we become champions of this truth, that what we are encountering today in our world cannot be sustainable and therefore we need to change in our attitude, in our practices and need to encounter Christ,” urged Fr Mbaro.

The Thursday event organized by Laudato Si Africa Movement was attended by Fr Herman Borg OFM, an Environmentalist and Founder of Mother Earth Network, Fr Dr Kenneth Makokha OFMCap, advocates of environmental conservation, students, religious men and women and Laudato Si animators.