Ethiopia battling locusts, floods and coronavirus amid outbreaks of violence

HungerFarmingDisastersEthiopia

Crop-eating locusts have returned to Ethiopia, as the country sees its worst plagues in 25 years. The challenges of coronavirus, flooding and renewed violence in the country are making the situation worse. Tearfund's partners are responding.

Since the start of the year, the insects have destroyed an estimated 200,000 hectares of land in the country. Food supplies have been ruined and millions of people have lost their incomes.

In recent weeks, the area of North Wollo has seen locusts devastate the entire crop that was due to be harvested. Agriculture is the backbone of Ethiopia’s economy and 80 per cent of the population rely on farming for both food and income.

Further challenges
At the time of writing, there have been 97,502 cases of coronavirus, and 1,494 deaths in Ethiopia. And with the pandemic restricting transportation, it’s now harder to get pesticides to the affected areas.

Meanwhile, many people have also been affected by floods across the country. From June to September, heavy rains led to flooding in many regions, affecting over one million people.

According to the United Nations food agency an estimated 350,000 have been forced to flee their homes. Livestock have been killed and crops washed away.

Lifelines
In the Afar region, a Scottish Government-funded project has helped Tearfund’s partner organisation, Friendship Support Association, provide 875 families with cash support for life's essentials.

Tearfund is also supporting another partner, EGCDWO, to respond to the needs of locust- affected communities in the Amaro area. Their projects are helping farmers to be more resilient at times of crisis like this.

’Battling at three fronts [locusts, flooding and coronavirus] at the same time is the worst challenge Ethiopian farmers have had to face,’ says Mesfin Abebe, Tearfund’s Programme Manager in Ethiopia.

‘Thousands of farmers are now bracing themselves for a long and harvestless season, left empty handed. These challenges have compounded the already complicated humanitarian situation in the country.’

‘Added to this, ethnic-based killings, the forced displacement of civilians by illegal armed forces and the outbreak of fighting in the northern parts of the country is also overstretching the capacity of those responding to the growing needs’.

Please pray

  • Pray for the locust swarms to end and for the farmers who are facing the challenges of flooding and coronavirus.
  • Pray for people who have been forced to leave their homes because of the multiple crises. May they be able to return to their homes and live their lives again.
  • With fighting recently breaking out in the northern region, please pray for the country to end bloodshed and for peace to prevail.
Andrew Horton

Andrew is Online News and Film Editor for Tearfund. This involves finding and writing up inspiring articles for the website, and capturing compelling stories on video.