Ethiopia Food Crisis update: saving lives and livelihoods

Posted on: Monday, 1st August, 2016
Children with bread provided by the school feeding programme

Thanks to your generous response to our emergency appeal in February, CBM has provided desperately needed food, water, seeds and livestock to thousands of people in drought-stricken Amhara, northern Ethiopia.

With our local partner, we have: 

  • Provided daily meals to 23,951 children at 46 schools
  • Distributed seeds to 13,428 vulnerable households
  • Supported 3,666 community members to improve local ponds, dams and canals.

We reach the most vulnerable men, women and children, including people with disabilities, who are often the last to get help at times of crisis. 

Worst drought in 50 years

The failure of rains last year caused the country’s worst food crisis in years, leaving 10.2 million people desperately short of food. Although some areas had rain in May, with some places even experiencing flooding, in the districts of East/West Belessa where CBM is working, there was no rain at all at that time.  Meseret, 16, carrying water container through dry landscape

For 16 year-old Meseret (pictured), who is deaf, the drought means a 1km walk each day to collect water from a dirty hole in the dried up river. There is hardly any food at home, but thanks to CBM supporters she and her classmates get a daily meal at school.

School feeding – saving lives and futures

Thanks to your support, each day, 23,951 children receive a meal of porridge or bread, distributed by CBM and local partner ORDA (Organisation for Rehabilitation and Development in Amhara). The 46 schools in East and West Belessa district where the food is distributed have been identified locally as ones where children are in greatest need of help. 138 cooks have been recruited to prepare the meals.

“The feeding is very important to us students. Many of us don’t have enough food to eat at home”, explains 16 year-old Yabbunesh, who is blind

Primary school children eating porridgeBefore the school feeding started, teachers were concerned at the number of families keeping their children home from school. Children with disabilities were among the most likely to drop out.

“You cannot learn on an empty stomach”, says Abaythara primary school director Birhanu Nigussia. But since the feeding began at his school, things have changed. “Now there is zero percent dropout and students are coming back”.

For Enaney Lakew, a mother of 4, including 12 year old Bezeye who is deaf, the programme reduces the burden of making a meagre monthly ration feed six mouths.

“The school feeding is so supportive. I thank God for the donors who provide this service.”

Rebuilding livelihoods

Usually, smallholders collect seeds from one year’s crop to plant the following season. But after last year’s crops failed, they were left with nothing to plant. To help families start to grow food for the coming year, CBM and ORDA has distributed seeds – including teff, sorghum and masho (mungbean) - to 13,428 vulnerable households.  Most areas of East and West Belessa finally received some rain in July, so farmers are now waiting anxiously to see if this season's harvest is a success. 

Chickens, sheep and goats are also being distributed to families in the greatest need, as many have had to sell their livestock to survive the last months.

Improving water access

Berara, a farmer, stands next to the empty damWhile rain fell just 100km away, in the village where Berara (pictured) lives, the dam is empty. Erosion has caused it to fill with silt, which will mean that even when it rains, it cannot store as much water.   

CBM is committed to supporting communities for the long-term to help prevent future crises. With local partner ORDA, we are helping community members improve their water supply for the future by building community ponds, maintaining irrigation canals and rebuilding and dams. So far, over 2583 local people have been involved in activities to improve water supply, which also helps to boost families incomes as they earn money for the work.

Help us save more lives and livelihoods today


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