ACT members work together to stave off famine in Ethiopia

News and Press Release
Originally published
Stricken by droughts that linger, rainfall that is at best sporadic, crops that have withered and parches grazing land turned to dust, Ethiopia is facing a food crisis of massive proportions. Estimates put more than 11-million people at risk.
Action by Churches Together (ACT) International member Christian Aid (CA), is one of several members of this global alliance who have joined forces to deal with the humanitarian emergency. The consortium, known as the Joint Relief Partnership (JRP)*, has targeted 24 districts in urgent need of help.

Daily, increasing numbers of people are packing up their meager belongings and heading for places that they hope at best, will see them through this new cycle of hardship. It is in one of these areas, in Showe, Bale zone that ACT member Christian Aid (CA) works through its local implementing partner, the Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus (EECMY). EECMY is also providing emergency support to 15,000 people who have fled the drought in West Hararghe and are now living in rough camps in Oromiya Region.

As of 31 December, 2002, EECMY started distributing of 23.7 metric tonnes of a supplementary food called famix, medicines, medical equipment and items such as soaps, roasting plates, plastic cups and plates to people who have been displaced by the drought and lack of food. Health workers have been assigned by the local health office to provide health and sanitation services to the internally displaced people (IDPs) in cooperation with the EECMY relief team.

"We know the amount is not enough, but we have to reach the most needy with what we have", says Matewos Tera, the program officer for CA/Ethiopia.

CA conducted a nutritional survey in September 2002, which identified 5,000 affected children and 280 pregnant and lactating mothers who are in need of supplementary food and health services.

Tera writes that although the Ethiopian government is trying to mobilize the resources to assist the drought-affected communities, the food shortage in the country is getting worse. "What has been allocated so far is not enough to feed all affected people", adding that "the increasing numbers of IDPs may ultimately make the situation more complicated".

[*The Joint Relief Partnership (JRP) is an ecumenical consortium of three Ethiopian churches, two church related international agencies as well as the Lutheran World Federation and Catholic Relief Services. The ACT members, Ethiopia Orthodox Church, Ethiopia Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus, Lutheran World Federation/World Service, Norwegian Church Aid, and Christian Aid, as well as the non-ACT member, Ethiopia Catholic Church responding to the crisis, have issued an ACT appeal with a target of just over US$ 27-million. Christian Aid and Norwegian Church Aid will work through local partners in Ethiopia under this appeal.]