New Caritas Africa Secretary General Appeals to Dioceses to Bolster Advocacy Initiatives

Lucy Esipila, Caritas Africa Secretary General. Credit: Caritas Africa

The newly appointed Caritas Africa Secretary General has called on Diocesan Caritas to take every opportunity available to participate in dialogues on issues affecting the communities they serve.

Speaking to ACI Africa from Rome, where officials of Caritas Africa held their 10th regional assembly that ended on May 10, Lucy Esipila said that part of the work of the development arm of the Catholic Church in Africa is advocacy on issues such as migration, and climate change.

She called on Diocesan Caritas organizations in various African countries to use information technology and other resources available to them to initiate and participate in advocacy.

I encourage the different Diocesan ‘Caritases’, through the national ‘Caritases’ to participate in different dialogue initiatives globally. COVID-19 is a crisis that provides an opportunity for us to learn that we can do so much using information technology,” Ms. Esipila said in the Thursday, May 11 interview with ACI Africa.

She added, “We want to see a lot of Caritas representation in international advocacy and it is possible avenues to provide data.”


The Kenyan-born Caritas official was named Caritas Africa’s Secretary General after a grueling selection process that was undertaken to replace Albert Mashika whose term had come to an end.

In the interview with ACI Africa, Ms. Esipila shared her gratitude following the appointment, saying, “I feel joy and happiness. I am grateful to God for this opportunity. I have been serving with Caritas for 10 years and I can say that it is a job that fulfills. It is good to serve the Church in Africa.” 

Sharing her vision for the development arm of the Church in Africa, the Nairobi-based Caritas official said, “I will be paying attention to what God intends for Africa because we play a crucial role in the service of charity in ensuring that the communities we serve are feeling close to the Church because of our actions.”

“My vision for Caritas Africa is for it to be a strong organization, and this is possible based on the solid foundation that we have right now,” she said.

She explained, “We need to be a strong network with agencies, a network that can mobilize resources internally and grow, a network that can collaborate with partners for us to support the communities and a network that is well recognized by governments for its role.” 

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“Our theme as Caritas Africa is ‘Building together resilient communities in Africa’. We can all do these things if we work together with our partners,” Ms. Esipila continued.

She went on to call on Diocesan Caritas to collaborate with their respective national offices in mobilizing resources to serve their Diocesan communities.

“We have 507 Diocesan Caritas organizations in Africa and my message for them is for them to know that they are part of a confederation. Diocesan ‘Caritases’ are part of their national Caritas organization. For us to work together, we must understand the structure within which we serve so that we can be able to enhance our role as local leaders,” the newly appointed Caritas Africa Secretary General said.

She added, “Right now, there is a discussion about local leadership and how to ensure that all actors are able to access resources for them to deliver timely, quality, and effective humanitarian and development initiatives. For us to engage, we need information from Diocesan Caritas in Africa.”

“Part of the things we have been discussing in our General Assembly is the need to pay our levies. We encourage Diocesan ‘Caritases’ to support their national organizations to ensure that they meet this obligation, which is important for us to be able to run the region. It is important that we look into how to grow our regional solidarity fund to respond to emergencies in our countries,” she further said.


Ms. Esipila who first joined Caritas in 2012 at Kenya’s Catholic Diocese of Maralal as an assistant Livelihoods Programs Officer shared her experience in various capacities at the development arm of the Church in Africa from the local level, to the national level and to the continental and global space.

She highlighted the diverse needs of the continent including migration in South Africa, drug abuse problem in Seychelles and in Liberia, the ongoing war in Sudan, and the drought in the Horn of Africa, as well as the climate-induced migration in Kenya, specifically in Marsabit. 

“Migration is particularly a big issue in South Africa, requiring a lot of cross-border advocacy and ensuring that we meet the aspirations of the AU in its treaty to the protocol of free movement of persons, right of residence, and right of establishment,” the Caritas official said.

She added, “The context of Africa is diverse. Different member organizations within West Africa, Central Africa, East Africa, and South Africa have serious challenges but they also have potential that we can tap into.”

Ms. Esipila described her new position at Caritas Africa as diverse.

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The regional executive secretary of Caritas Africa is the legal representative of the organization and has a link to the Caritas Internationalis Secretariat.

The role ensures that there is coordination with the board picked from representatives of various Caritas Africa zones in western Africa, in central Africa, in eastern Africa, in southern Africa, as well as in countries under the Episcopal Conference of the Indian Ocean (CEDOI).

The other role is to ensure diplomacy and networking with the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM). 

“We also work to ensure that we are paying attention to the guidance provided by the dicastery for promoting integral human development,” Ms. Esipila who previously served as the Regional Policy Officer at Caritas Africa said.

Agnes Aineah is a Kenyan journalist with a background in digital and newspaper reporting. She holds a Master of Arts in Digital Journalism from the Aga Khan University, Graduate School of Media and Communications and a Bachelor's Degree in Linguistics, Media and Communications from Kenya's Moi University. Agnes currently serves as a journalist for ACI Africa.