As December draws to a close, CARE International staff in Ethiopia are distributing available food aid to help fend off hunger in the Oromiya and Afar regions, in districts east of Addis Ababa. Food aid distribution begun in September has prevented malnutrition from getting worse. But new estimates suggest that 11.3 million people will need continued food support into the new year. In adjoining Eritrea, over one million out of a total population of four million people face a food shortage.
The UK government's Department for International Development (DFID) recently approved CARE International's proposal for £1.2 million for immediate assistance in Ethiopia. Most of the approved funds will be spent on extra grain rations for the most vulnerable families. The remainder will be spent on training local officials, to help them identify and distribute aid to families that need it most.
Both Eritrea and Ethiopia are suffering from a severe drought following an erratic rainy season, that has resulted in extensive crop losses and hunger in rural populations. This drought hits hard in poor communities that are still trying to recover from past droughts and losses of income.
Dan Maxwell, CARE's regional programme coordinator, points out that even while the aid situation is urgent, we must balance short-term humanitarian assistance with longer-term solutions for the repeated food crises in the Horn of Africa: 'Ethiopia is what everyone thinks of when they hear "food crisis" and "Horn of Africa" in the same sentence. But the problem is proportionally worse in Eritrea, despite it being a much smaller country.'
About CARE International
CARE International is one of the world's largest humanitarian organisations, with projects in more than 60 countries. CARE began work in Ethiopia in 1984 to distribute food during the famine. Its longer-term development work in Ethiopia and Eritrea includes small business development, agriculture, community development and HIV/AIDS education prevention.