Locals wash clothing at a water point built by CRS, a member of Caritas, in the village of Dure in Ethiopia's Shinele Zone. Because it is the only water point for almost 19 miles around, this site now supports more than 50,000 people with clean water for their livestock and for their own use. Credits: David Snyder/Catholic Relief Services

Locals wash clothing at a water point built by CRS, a member of Caritas, in the village of Dure in Ethiopia’s Shinele Zone. Because it is the only water point for almost 19 miles around, this site now supports more than 50,000 people with clean water for their livestock and for their own use.
Credits: David Snyder/Catholic Relief Services

Caritas is appealing for EUR 1,489,048 (US $2,149,143 million) to help Ethiopia during its most severe drought in 60 years.

Four and a half million people in the country are in need of immediate food aid. Crops have failed, livestock have died, and water sources both for drinking and irrigation have dried up.

“Caritas’ intervention will reduce people’s immediate suffering and help families withstand future droughts,” says Alistair Dutton, Humanitarian Director for Caritas Internationalis. He traveled to Ethiopia in early August.

Caritas will reach over 65,000 people with emergency food and water, with a special focus on malnourished children and pregnant women.

Caritas will pay people to build dams, trenches, and other infrastructure that will slow down rivers and streams.

“The real tragedy of this drought is that enough rain has fallen this year but it has drained straight off the land, washing away much fertile topsoil with it,” says Dutton. “The new structures will allow water to soak into the ground and refill reservoirs, boreholes and aquifers.”

In some communities, people are walking over an hour and a half to reach drinkable water. In such places, Caritas will truck water into villages or provide water treatment services.

The programmes will give farmers seeds that are better adapted to the increasingly erratic climate and teach them agricultural techniques to use during dry periods. Caritas will also replenish livestock, provide veterinary care, and encourage methods that prevent overgrazing. With more resilient crops and rangeland, farmers and animal herders will be less vulnerable to drought and famine in coming years.

“The Church in Ethiopia is working hard to save lives during this terrible time,” says Dutton. “This programme will stop hunger now and prevent tragedy in future.”

Pllease call Laura Sheahen on 0039 334 2344136 or 0039 06 698 797 55 or email sheahen@caritas.va