10 million in severe need as Ethiopia faces worst drought in 50 years
•Tearfund joins emergency response, providing vital food and encourages people to donate
•UN launches urgent appeal for funds as situation reaches crisis level.
With 10 million people in urgent need of food assistance in Ethiopia, and the number continuing to rise, Tearfund is encouraging people to donate to the emergency response. Tearfund has joined emergency relief efforts by providing food assistance and livestock support across the country. The UN has also launched an urgent campaign ‘Act Now. Protect Tomorrow’ to prevent the crisis reaching unprecedented levels.
Erratic rains caused by the El Nino effect have caused widespread drought and failed harvests across vast areas of the country, putting millions of people at risk. It is estimated that the current figure of 10.2 million people in severe need will rise to 15 million in the coming months.
Over the past 10 years, the Ethiopian Government has invested greatly in improved early warning systems, infrastructure and preparedness, but the impact of environmental factors has proved insurmountable so far, and it is estimated US$1.4 billion is required to prevent extensive loss of life. The UN’s 90-day ‘Act Now. Protect Tomorrow’ campaign is urging the international community to take action now, before the situation deteriorates further. The Ethiopian government and the international community have pledged US$ 758m to date.
Donald Mavunduse, Tearfund’s Head of East and Southern Africa said, “The scale of this disaster is incomprehensible. In a few months’ time we estimate 15 million people will be in severe need, this is almost double the population of London. Ethiopia has fallen off the media radar, but we need to become aware of how extensive this humanitarian crisis is. At Tearfund we are working together with the government, local partners, and other agencies, to provide emergency relief to households and build resilience across the country. We applaud the UN’s efforts - it’s vital the international community come together to help stop mass hunger from occurring again.”
Over the past decade, Tearfund has built long-term resilience through a network of 18,000 self-help groups, allowing over 330,000 members to access small loans or grants to help their businesses and families survive. The international development agency is also working with the Ethiopian government’s emergency relief efforts in the Fentalle district, providing critical food assistance to nearly 70,000 people, in addition to distributing seeds to 4,000 households and livestock fodder to over 400 households.
Shege Roba Fantalle, aged 30 years is a farmer, rearing goats, sheep, cattle, and donkeys. She has three sons and four daughters, and lives in Dheebiti Kebele in Fantalle District, Oromiya.
She says, “Life is bitter for us right now. We were hoping for things to improve. What we are eating now is dry, the water we drink is salty, and livestock are also affected. So far 30 of my goats and 40 of my sheep died because of the drought. Those that are alive are just lying down at home as there is nothing to feed them with. Please help us. We are very grateful for what we are receiving; please continue to stand with us. We would have lost all hope had we not received food aid.”
Boru Godana Boruti, aged 51, is also a farmer, in Haro Kersa Kebele in Fantalle District, Oromiya, with 12 children. He remembers 1984 as the worst year of his life.
He says, “Since that time, the climate has started to get worse and worse. We have had no rain for the last two years. The Government has been providing us with relief grain, four times since September. Before the drought years, we used to sell butter and milk and buy sufficient grain to feed our children. But now the sheep and goats have lost weight and the camels have migrated to higher altitude areas. There is nothing for them to eat, you see them eating soil. We tried to grow crops, but the rains failed.”
To donate to the Ethiopia response or find out more information, please visit Tearfund’s Ethiopia page.