Clouds, but no rain - three-year drought causes hunger in Ethiopia

AKRON, Pa. - Three years of drought in southeastern Ethiopia have depleted food stocks and some 8 million people are now hungry. Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) workers Linda and Robert Hovde report rain clouds appear on the horizon, then the wind blows them away and no rain falls. Hovdes, who have many years of experience in Ethiopia, say this weather pattern is similar to what they observed in the mid-1980s when Ethiopia suffered severe famine.
Over the past one and a half years, MCC has been aware of the growing crisis and, through the Canadian Foodgrains Bank, has supplied 1,400 metric tons of grain to Ethiopia. Currently MCC is organizing a 4,500 metric ton grain shipment, which is scheduled to arrive in Ethiopia by the end of May. The grain comes via Canadian contributions to MCC through the Canadian Foodgrains Bank. MCC will use the grain as follows:

  • 2,770 metric tons of grain will go to people in southern Ethiopia.
  • 655 metric tons of grain will go to Ethiopian Mennonites who are aiding refugees from Eritrea living in towns north of Ethiopia's capital city. In these towns, four or five people are dying daily due to malnutrition and related diseases.
  • 450 metric tons of grain will go to Afar pastoralists, nomadic people who live near the border with Djibouti.
  • an additional 625 metric tons of grain will go where it is needed most.

Tesfa Dalellew, MCC's Africa program co-director, is currently in Ethiopia. He and the Hovdes will continue to assess the situation.

MCC is accepting funds for "Ethiopia famine relief." To contribute contact your nearest MCC office . If contributions exceed MCC's program expenses in Ethiopia, funds will go to similar relief programs across East and Central Africa where 15 million people are at risk due to little rainfall.