British actress Emma Rigby, who has just finished appearing in the West End’s Witness for the Prosecution, is backing a campaign for the UK to stop contributing to climate change after witnessing first-hand the devastating impact of drought and conflict on families in northern Kenya.
The 29-year-old travelled to northern Kenya with the Catholic Agency for Overseas Development (CAFOD) in 2017 after a Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) appeal was launched to raise money for millions of people on the brink of famine to see how money raised from both organisations is being used to tackle the hunger crisis.
During the five-day trip, the former Hollyoaks actress who is an ambassador for CAFOD, visited several programmes providing emergency aid for vulnerable families run by CAFOD and our local Caritas aid workers.
Visiting a mobile nutrition clinic in the Daaba settlement, Emma met several mothers and malnourished babies receiving life- saving healthcare.
One of the women she met, single mother-of-4 Pauline, who used to have livestock and was able to provide for her family, but now most of her goats are dead.
During this time, Pauline fell ill and had to walk the 15km to the local clinic before the mobile clinic was in operation which has literally become a lifeline for both her and her family.
Emma also witnessed the innovative way CAFOD’s local partner, Caritas Marsabit, were working to get food to 3,000 people using a new system.
Each village sends just one person to collect food; this then gets shared amongst all the village, according to the needs of each family. The food then goes to those who need it most and saves the weakest people from having to queue for hours.
Another programme in the same village gives members of the community the opportunity to work for half a day in exchange for wages which can be spent on food or other essentials.
Speaking following her visit in 2017, Emma said: “Through no fault of their own, the drought has caused people to lose their entire livelihoods – cattle, goats, camels – which they are utterly dependent upon for their survival. It’s heart-breaking. Yet despite the situation they find themselves in, I met some amazing women who have somehow found the will and the spirit to survive.”
Following her experience in Kenya, Emma is now set to join thousands of campaigners on the streets of London this month to lobby her parliamentary representative, St Helens North MP Conor McGinn, on the issue.
Emma said: “Climate change is affecting people today. In the UK tackling the issue may be seen as a lifestyle choice, but in places like Kenya, it a choice between life or death.”
The actress is urging local people to join her outside Parliament tomorrow (Wednesday 26 June) when more than 15,000 people are expected to lobby their MPs face-to-face for urgent action to achieve the 2050 ‘net zero’ emissions target.