Improving food security in drought-affected areas of Ethiopia

Publié: 22 juin 2011 16:19 CET

By Nahu Senay in Ethiopia

Melia Mussa was born 40 years ago. She is one of the many beneficiaries in Grawa, East Hararghe, receiving relief assistance from the Red Cross. “My family was rich. We had many cows, goats, sheep and food was never a problem. We did not even think of such disaster. We used to have plenty of food and of all varieties,’’ she says.

Melia recalls the good old days when she was young. Grawa, her place of birth, has been known for its fertile land and surplus production of cereals until recently. Due to climate change and other environmental factors, the area is now affected by shortage of rain and drought.

In this region, like many others in Ethiopia, having many children is considered a blessing and Melia has 14. It is a common cultural belief that children will provide future protection for parents as they grow older. “I give thanks to Allah that has given me these children, and they are all alive. My family is well, even when many died in this village and people migrated due to the drought. We have gone through terrible days of hunger and suffering, but have been able to survive with the assistance of the Red Cross. This is not the first time we receive assistance,” Melia says.        
In Grawa people mainly produce maize, but also cultivate root crops and cereals when there is good rains. Last year, the rainfall was satisfactory for the farmers and the harvest was fruitful. However, the area is mostly dry, and water is always a vital requirement by the community. “Here water is a critical problem. There is only one functional water point in the town from which all people near and far come to use. The other water points constructed earlier are not in use and need maintenance. It is a pity to see many people coming from remote villages – walking 10 to 20 kilometers each day –  to fetch water.’’

Israel Tessema is a Red Cross volunteer who has been serving the Movement for eight years. He says: “My greatest satisfaction is to see the happiness of children and women after they receive assistance. I want to continue helping vulnerable people by being a volunteer of the Red Cross.’’

Ethiopian Red Cross Society (ERCS), has also been providing assistance in Fedis district in East Hararghe. ERCS has provided relief food assistance to the population in selected villages of this district. This area has also experienced successive lack of seasonal rains from February to May and June to September seasons. Often, crops fail due to insufficient rainfall. Since 2010, the Red Cross has distributed seeds, farm tools and fertilizers that are essential inputs to sustain the livelihoods of the vulnerable people.