Prayers for rain

I crave sunshine. I think it comes from being born just after Midsummer. I feel at my happiest when sitting in dappled sunlight, underneath the promise of a cloudless blue sky.

So the last three weeks of constant rain, and the forecast of the wettest and coldest May for many years, fill me with melancholy.

Yet in spite of the current weather, we are in a time of drought, and counties up and down the UK face hosepipe bans until the end of this year at least.

It’s strange to be in drought during a time of so much rain. I was in Kenya during the drought in the Horn of Africa last summer. It was the worst that the region had witnessed for 60 years. The red flesh of the earth was barren, the empty river beds like bloodless veins. Cattle carcasses littered the horizon, and the wind carried the pungent smell of death.

One woman I met told me that she prayed for rain every single day, a prayer for rain to comfort the earth, to bring food and hope and life.

So today – even though the rain makes me crave tea and hobnobs and an old film and bed – I am remembering that woman, and her prayers for rain. I am reminding myself to be grateful for it.

There’s another drought this year in the African Sahel, which comprises Chad, Burkina Faso, Mali, Mauritania, Niger and northern Senegal. A toxic combination of low rainfall, high food prices, entrenched poverty and regional conflict means that 13 million people are at risk of malnutrition and starvation.

Those 13 million mums, dads, children and grandparents are probably praying for rain too.

We are so lucky we don’t have to.

Unlike some larger NGOS, Practical Action is not an aid agency, and we do not deliver emergency relief. Instead, we believe passionately that it is only through long-term development work using appropriate technology that poor and vulnerable communities can become more resilient, and the desperate tragedy of drought and famine can be avoided. You can support our work here.

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