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Catastrophic hunger crisis in Ethiopia is far from over

Tearfund has launched a new project in Ethiopia to help people facing hunger. Here is how you can support it in prayer.

Rachael Adams | 12 Aug 2022

A woman standing in a barren landscape

In Ethiopia, a woman stands in front of the barren landscape, caused by the worst drought in decades | Image credit: Leonilo Endoso/Tearfund

The people of Ethiopia are facing a catastrophic hunger crisis. It feels as though there is no end in sight after four consecutive harvest seasons have failed due to the worst drought in decades. Predictions for Autumn’s harvest season are dire. Simba Nyamarezi, who leads Tearfund’s work in Ethiopia, shares about a new project that has been launched to help people in need – and how we can get behind it in prayer.

Suffering

Borena is located in Oromia, in southern Ethiopia. It is one of the areas most affected by the current drought, with all 13 districts suffering.

About 91 per cent of the people here live in rural areas and depend on livestock and agriculture to survive – it is the backbone of their entire economy. But all the grazing lands and water sources have dried out. Livestock and crops have perished, leading to severe food shortages.

People here are travelling long distances, taking hours and hours, in order to search for water. This responsibility mainly falls to women and girls, putting them at risk as the routes are often dangerous. Girls are also missing school in order to carry out this essential task.

A group of people digging for water

Families in Borena dig deep in search of water. It’s getting more difficult as the drought has caused water sources to dry up | Image credit: Ayaana/Tearfund

A hand up

‘Our teams visited districts across Borena, speaking with different communities and local leaders and working with them to make sure we could address their needs in any response we carried out,’ explains Simba.

The first stage of our response in Borena has been to work with a local partner to distribute cash grants to families suffering from hunger.

‘Giving cash means that families are able to set their own priorities,’ says Simba. ‘It doesn’t assume all families have the same requirements and gives people greater dignity as they can choose to buy what they need – making it less of a handout and more of a hand up.’

A group of people outside in a dry landscape

A meeting was held with members of the community where cash distributions were going to take place. These cash grants will help families who are suffering from hunger | Image credit: Ayaana/Tearfund

Empowering women

‘In emergencies like these, it’s really important to tackle the short-term needs,’ shares Simba. ‘But we need to look for ways we can raise up people in the community to help lift their families out of poverty in the long-term.’

The next stages of our work in Borena focuses on this long-term objective.

Initially, business skills training will be provided to 100 women, equipping them to set up their own small business. This is usually petty trading, where they buy and sell goods – usually small animals, oil and household items – for a profit.

‘Whenever we run training like this, we see women become more confident and empowered to turn things around for their families,’ says Simba. ‘As farming is increasingly unreliable due to the drought, families need another income to survive. This sets them up for the future.’

Building resilience

Following this, Tearfund will be leading training for ten people in how they can help prepare and keep their communities safe when disasters – such as extreme weather events – strike. It will cover how to spot early warning signs, how communities can prepare for disasters, as well as how to organise a response when the worst happens.

‘This is a really effective way of getting communities involved in what they need to do to protect themselves in times of hardship. It builds up their resilience to future emergencies,’ says Simba.

‘The training runs like a ripple effect. These ten people will then train up their entire communities and share this important messaging far and wide.’

A group of huts in a dry, parched area

In Ethiopia, the land is parched. Crops have withered away, water is scarce, and people are going hungry | Image credit: Leonilo Endoso/Tearfund

Far from over

The effects of the drought are widespread across Ethiopia, as more than 8.5 million people are going hungry each day. This project above is just one out of many we’re running to help communities who are suffering from the effects of the hunger crisis.

We continue to work with churches and local partners across Ethiopia to help communities access food and water, as well as equip them with business skills and new farming techniques so they can adapt to the changing climate.

But the likelihood of another season of failed harvests is approaching, which is going to be disastrous for the people of Ethiopia.

God is with us

‘We are seeking God's intervention into the challenging situations in Ethiopia,’ explains Simba.

‘During our weekly staff devotions, we continue to pray for the country, especially about the conflict and the drought. We trust that God has feasible solutions towards the ever worsening situation in the country.

‘One of the Bible verses we refer in our times of prayer for Ethiopia is 2 Chronicles 7: 14: “if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”

‘We cannot face this crisis without God. Please join with us and pray for the people of Ethiopia during this extremely difficult time.’

Pray with us

How to pray for our new project in Borena

How to pray for Ethiopia

For more ways to pray for Ethiopia, check out our East Africa prayer guide, which features prayer points, as well as creative activities for individuals and small groups.

  Rachael Adams


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