A DESPERATE plea has been made for Wearsiders to help those devastated by the drought in East Africa.
Sunderland hairdresser Neville Ramsay has teamed up with Steve Cram’s charity Coco to help the area.
It’s a cause close to Neville’s heart as he has spent time carrying out building work in Tanzania.
East Africa is suffering its worst drought in six decades with millions of people threatened by starvation.
Neville said: “We want to appeal to people to help in any way they can. Africa and the children I met there, touched me and I hope to return in the next year.”
A collection bucket is at the Ramsay & Johnson salon in Blandford Street, Sunderland and visitors are being encouraged to donate their loose change.
Coco was set up by Sunderland University chancellor and former Olympic athlete Steve Cram. It works on education and healthcare initiatives in the developing world.
A spokesman said: “Emergency disaster relief is not an area within which Coco works, but we have supported and, no doubt, will continue to do so in the future, the implementation of schemes aimed at the provision of water in Kenya and Tanzania over recent years.
“The real sadness underpinning the current crisis, aside from it being deemed the harshest drought for 60 years affecting 10million people, is that the crisis has happened at all given that similar episodes have been seen with depressing regularity since the 1980s.
“In our own small way we are helping to ensure this cycle is broken, but the problem is a big one.
Access to water is an issue almost everywhere in the region from urban areas, for instance in Nairobi which is often subject to water rationing, to seemingly-lush rural villages, where climate change can mean these fertile areas may not stay that way for much longer.”
The UN says East Africa is experiencing the worst drought in 60 years, with more than 10million people threatened by starvation in Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya.
It has been caused by the lack of rain and the failure of governments to adequately-finance agriculture and irrigation schemes.
Somalia is hardest hit.
It is estimated 29,000 children under five have died there in the past three months.