By Makeda Yohannes/ECS Before drought struck Ethiopia in 2011, Mulu Jaletu owned five oxen, enough to help his farm support his 12 children. But with no rain falling, his crops would often fail. As his money ran out, he was forced to sell one ox at a time so he could buy food for his family. Eventually he had sold all of his oxen. Mulu and his older children had to walk four hours a day to work as daily laborers in the town center or on big farms. With those wages, they could only meet their basic needs—there wasn’t enough to save up for an ox for the next rainy season. Mulu gave up hoping. He thought he and his family would never be able to farm on their own land again. Other subsistence farmers in the town of Meki, in Ethiopia’s Oromiya region, were facing the same dilemma. Everything they [...]
The food crisis in East Africa hit the headlines over the summer. Resources were mobilised around the world to support communities in need as drought in Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia put millions of people in peril. Val Morgan of SCIAF (Caritas Scotland) reports from southern Ethiopia that although the news attention may have moved on, the suffering remains. By Val Morgan What it is like to be hungry and facing a slow death by starvation? What it is like to see our family’s assets disappear, our children lose weight and our spouse join us in worrying how bad the future might just get? In early October 2011, I was brought a bit closer to these realities when I visited southern Ethiopia. The situation is truly desperate. People are going hungry, cattle are dying in large numbers, water sources and grazing land have all but disappeared, and the people don’t know […]
By Val Morgan, Media Officer for SCIAF On some days in the field, I almost despair. It was a red-hot morning and we drove two hours to see a cattle feeding centre and destocking programme in Miyo, a village in southern Ethiopia. The more we drove the drier the landscape became until eventually it was totally barren, just dust and stones. As we arrived at our destination on the top of a hill there were panoramic views all around us. I was told that three years ago this area used to be a vibrant area for farmers and herders with crops and precious grassland on the hills all around me. Now there was nothing. We met our local guide, a young man from our partner, GPDI. He started by telling us about the animal feeding centre which SCIAF (Caritas Scotland) is supporting. It may seem strange to be feeding animals […]
“He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside still waters.” It’s a phrase known to Christians around the world, one of the most beloved verses of a beloved psalm. It was the psalm Pope Benedict XVI referred to during his weekly audience Wednesday 5 October which ended with an appeal to the world not to forget East Africa, where drought has turn green pastures brown and made water scarce. Crops have failed; herdsmen have watched their goats and cattle grow thinner and die. Tens of thousands of families walked for weeks to reach refugee camps, or anywhere with water.
By David Snyder His thinning white hair dyed orange in the traditional local style, Aden Esse Kan stands amid the swirling dust clouds of eastern Ethiopia, eager to talk about the drought that now plagues this region. An elder in the village of Togo Wuchale, a dusty half hour drive from the town of Jijiga, Kan summarises the problems facing his community, “The drought affects us in two ways – our people and our livestock,” Kan said. “There is no rain at all so we don’t have anything to eat.” Today across much of Ethiopia, where as many as 11 million people are in need of food aid, that is a distressingly common refrain. For traditional pastoralists like those from the Jijiga region, just sixty kilometers from the border with Somalia, the drought has devastated local grazing land, forcing many in the village of Togo Wuchale to drive their thinning herds further [...]
By David Snyder You are not expecting rain when you come to cover a drought. But that’s what I found when I stepped off of the plane here Sunday—and what I have seen each day since. Rain. Looking around at the green of the hillsides, you could easily be fooled about the real problems facing the people here. But it doesn’t take much digging to learn how much trouble looms, where the rain now falling comes far too late to avert a crisis for as more than 11 million people. I spent yesterday visiting several projects around Dira Dawa A, a zone of eastern Ethiopia that has been hard hit by the failure earlier this year of the first of the country’s two rainy seasons. With the failure of the short rains, which normally fall from February to June, millions were unable to gather a harvest. Worse still, they were unable [...]
2011 is one of the worst droughts to hit East Africa and the Horn of Africa in living memory, including the east of Ethiopia. The local Caritas there is called the Hararghe Catholic Secretariat. It's part of the national Caritas organisation (the Ethiopian Catholic Secretariat), and is supported by a number of Caritas members from around the world. Because drought is cyclic in this part of Ethiopia, the HCS has been working with the local communities to prepare them for drought. This can mean helping to provide irrigation and plants resistant to drought, insuring there is fresh water to drink and keeping food aid flowing when a crisis hits like now. Caritas Internationalis and one of its US members Catholic Relief Services (CRS) commissioned a photographer David Snyder to visit the Hararghe Catholic Secretariat in Ethiopia. This is a sample of his work. [slideshow]
Caritas Internationalis Policy Director Martina Liebsch reports on a ministerial level meeting at the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) in Rome about the drought in the Horn of Africa. The outgoing director of Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), Jacques Diouf had called the emergency meeting to address the food crisis in East Africa. The country most affected is Somalia – everyone agreed – but the crisis affects also parts of Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda and has a spillover effect as people from Somalia are forced to migrate in the search of food. Josette Sheeran, Executive Director of the WFP was one of the speakers on the High Level Panel. She had just came back from a visit in Dadaab camp in Kenya, which she described as unacceptable. Many people reach the camp after walking six weeks in search of food. Women had to leave children who were almost dying for the sake [...]