A cycle of drought, food shortages, and disease has taken its toll on the lives of millions of Ethiopians. Countless are faced with starvation, malnutrition has risen steadily, especially among children, mothers, and the elderly, and outbreaks of malaria and diarrhoea have increased. Livelihoods have been seriously threatened by repeated crop failure and livestock loss.
The situation is deteriorating rapidly, and reports indicate that those at risk could possibly reach 14 million, roughly a quarter of the country's population.
To cope with the crisis, many Ethiopians have resorted to selling off their assets, at times even their homes, migrating to other regions in search of labour, or subsisting on wild fruits. In some extreme cases, parents have abandoned their families out of complete desperation.
The Ethiopian Catholic Secretariat (ECS), in close collaboration with the affected dioceses, the emergency liaison agency, Caritas Germany, and the Caritas network, worked out a comprehensive plan to meet the immediate food, water, health, and sanitation needs of people in the hard-hit dioceses of Hararghe, Soddo Hosanna, Meki, and Adigrat.
Emphasis has been placed on improving household food security, generating employment opportunities, and strengthening famine early warning and disaster prevention mechanisms. Attention has also been turned to rehabilitating the environmental and agricultural resource base to help increase future productivity.
In 2001, the Caritas Confederation funded projects in Ethiopia valued at over 2 million USD. Caritas Internationalis is one of the world's largest humanitarian networks. Its 154 relief, development, and social service organisations are present in 198 countries and territories.
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