It has started to rain in Tigray in the past few days. Farmers have started to prepare the land in the hope that it will last long enough to produce a harvest. Some are more optimistic than others. Below are two brief notes about the background to the situation in Tigray. In Stories from Tigray Tewedros Tigabu tells how this drought is affecting ordinary men and women who live there.
Background (Christian Aid)
Christian Aid is continuing to respond to the crisis in Ethiopia through several partners who are working in all parts the drought-affected country, providing emergency relief as well as long term development aid. One such partner is the Relief Society of Tigray (REST), who have been providing long term development aid as well as emergency relief to this region since 1978. REST's Food For Work schemes (i.e. building dams, bore wells, roads) have enabled many of Tigray's farmers to subsidise their incomes as well as provide the community with much needed infrasture.
A consortium of Ethiopian churches called Joint Relief Partnership (JRP) and international church related NGOs, Action by Churches Together (ACT) issued an appeal in March to provide emergency relief to 755,195 people in different parts of the country. Christian Aid recently made a grant of £30,000 to the JRP/ACT appeal who will providing relief to 94,000 people in Tigray.
Tigray is one of the most chronically food insecure regions in the country where large quantities of relief assistance is generally needed every year even during years of normal and above normal harvests. Failure of the 1999 short (Belg) rain not only affected planting of long maturing crops such as maize and sorghum but also hampered land preparation for short maturing crops. The impact and failure of the 1999 belg rain was significant in South Tigray where the production of long maturing crops contributes to a significant part of the food supply. For 2000 the food supply prospectsfor most parts of the region do not look good. Failure of the 1999 Belg rain has reduced food availability in the southern zone and has resulted in significant reductions in the harvest from the long rains (meher, which should fall from mid June to mid September). Erratic weather conditions have resulted in extremely poor Meher crops. More than 1 million people (1,047,400) are in need of 146,081 tonnes of relief food aid.