The charity is appealing to its supporters across Hallam to help them raise £3 million, which will allow them to scale up their emergency response and reach more vulnerable families in dire need of food, clean water and basic sanitation.
CAFOD representative in Hallam, Anne Prior, said, “Ethiopia faces a food shortage that has left millions without enough food to survive the months ahead. The funding will allow us to escalate our emergency response with local partners, who are already on the frontline getting assistance to where it is needed most.” The devastating food shortage has been caused by two failed rainy seasons that has led to a severe drought, fuelled by one of the strongest El Nino weather patterns recorded.
The two failed rainy seasons supply over 80 per cent of Ethiopia’s agricultural crops. The lack of a harvest this year has exhausted people’s ability to cope and they have simply run out of options for feeding their families and animals. The north and north-eastern parts of the country have been hardest hit by the drought affecting some of poorest people in the country – agro-pastoralists, farming and pastoralist communities – these families rely heavily on subsistence farming and livestock.
Herit lives in the village of Arato, just outside of Mekelle, in Ethiopia’s northern Tigray region, a mother of five children, she lives with her youngest two, 15 and 9 years of age.
No stranger to the impact that drought has on farming communities, Herit as a young girl grew up in the Oromia region of the country in the early 1980s, and survived the conflict and famine that devastated the region at the time. The drought this year has claimed Herit’s crops leaving her family with nothing to eat. “During a good season we would have cultivated barley, wheat and pulses, a harvest of more than 200kg. But this year has been a very tough year; it has only rained twice and nothing has grown, so we have nothing.”
Herit has been identified by the village community to local CAFOD partner as needing food aid. She has been supported with a direct cash transfer, allowing her to buy a family food basket in the local market, and without it her options would be desperately bleak.
Herit said, “If I did not get this assistance, I and my children would be dead here. Because I have been able to buy food, my children are living and we are surviving.” With the direct cash transfer Herit has bought wheat flour, pulses, and cooking oil. Allowing vulnerable families to buy the food they need, is a more dignified approach to food distribution.
Herit explains that she is a ‘strong leader’ for her family, teaching her children to live with nature, and to never be wasteful. She is proud that she has been able to stand on her own, and she does not want to be dependent on aid. “I have worked hard for a better life; to go back to dependency is very difficult for me. I feel sad, it hurts me inside,” she said. Herit is still holding on to her faith and her hope. “I have hope for the future, I’m praying to God for our wellbeing.”
Herit will also receive seeds as part of the CAFOD emergency response, and hopes with the coming rains that she will be able to grow barley. But, even if the rains do come there will be a ‘hunger gap’ for families like Herit’s, while they wait to see if there will be anything to harvest in the next three to five months ahead.
CAFOD local partner, Fr Solomon, from the Catholic Diocese of Adigrat said, “As we wait people will still be in need of vital food and water for survival. Keep us in your prayers.”
How you can help
CAFOD is asking for people to give, act and pray in solidarity with the people of Ethiopia and those affected by the drought.
Shiferaw, a farmer in Ethiopia affected by the drought, said, “In advance, I thank the Catholic Community of England and Wales for walking alongside us, and for their compassion, support and solidarity.”
Please donate: online at cafod.org.uk/Ethiopia, or by phone on: 0500 85 88 85 or CAFOD, 55 Westminster Bridge Road, London, SE1 7JB.