Families Face Food Shortages in Ethiopia

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Selfinesh Tasew has nothing left. 

“I planted maize, beans, and other grains in my field, but all of them dried up,” the 35-year-old mother of six explained. “To feed my family, I started selling my cattle, sheep, and goats. I have already sold five animals to buy food. Without water and feed, my remaining animals are getting thin and weaker. Soon they will be worth nothing.”

Tasew is not alone. She lives in Dugda district, Ethiopia, where she makes a living by raising livestock and farming a small piece of land. Both of these livelihoods are dependent upon rain for their success. For the last two years, however, this part of Ethiopia has had no rain at all.

Like many of her neighbors, Tasew has found a way to survive for now. She has sold off livestock in order to purchase food and has cut back on how much her family eats.  Unfortunately, this is not enough.

This year’s drought is the worst the country has seen in 32 years, and hundreds of thousands of people like Tasew are facing severe food shortages.

World Renew is responding. Using funds from its Canadian Foodgrains Bank account and matching funds from the Canadian government, World Renew is providing food rations to 41,043 people in Ethiopia through its local partner, Food for the Hungry Ethiopia for four months. 

As a result, Tasew and her neighbors are receiving vegetable oil, maize, and pulses to meet their daily food requirements. In addition, families like Tasew’s who have children under the age of 5 are also receiving Famix—a protein rich food supplement specially designed for young children.

“Unfortunately, unless we can find more resources, these food supplies will only last until families can plant their next crop. There will be a huge and painful gap as the families wait until the harvest,” said Ken Little, World Renew’s Senior Project Manager overseeing this project.

Ethiopia is just one of several countries struggling this year as a result of El Nino weather. In some countries, El Nino has caused flooding, but in many the result has been severe drought. Disasters have already been declared in Zimbabwe, Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia, Indonesia and Ethiopia. 

“Millions upon millions of people will soon find themselves without food. This includes families who normally have enough to eat but suddenly find themselves without. It will also include those who struggle to get enough food for their families even in a typical year. With this year’s lack of rains, their situation will be impossible,” said World Renew’s Jacqueline Koster, who is managing similar food distribution programs in Zambia.

Tasew’s smile as she receives her family’s food rations is a testament to just how much this support means to her and her family. It has been a true answer to prayer, and she prays that it will continue until she can harvest her own food again.

To learn more or to support this effort, please visit worldrenew.net/elnino.

About the Author

Kristen deRoo VanderBerg was part of the World Renew Communications team from 1999-2016. She now serves as director of Communications & Marketing for the Christian Reformed Church.

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