The impact on children of the devastating drought in Ethiopia is an aspect of the hunger crisis that is sometimes overlooked. Nasiya Gedecho Nantiti told Christian Aid about daily life for his family, living through the worst drought he can remember. He wants his children to have an education, but day by day it’s becoming harder, as they head to school with empty stomachs, and he lacks the resources to buy them the food and clothes they need to thrive.
Nasiya has received support from the Scottish Government’s Humanitarian Emergency Fund (HEF) in the form of a small cash grant to buy essentials. This will help, for a short time and he is extremely grateful. Providing unconditional help in the form of cash means people can decide for themselves how to spend it and what to buy, as they know best what their family needs.
Nasiya is one of over six hundred households who have been targeted as part of the emergency assistance, which has been identifying those most vulnerable to starvation. In addition, children under five and pregnant and breastfeeding women, showing signs of malnutrition, have been provided with cash to buy additional nutritional supplements.
How did it get like this?
The drought in Ethiopia hasn’t happened overnight and continues to impact the entire region, known as the Horn of Africa. Five failed rainy seasons, combined with sporadic flash floods, have stripped people of the ability to grow crops and access water. Livestock have been dying in their millions. The global context is also compounding the situation including soaring fuel costs and the war in Ukraine which has severely disrupted food imports.
In December a joint letter was sent to the UK Prime Minister on behalf of Christian Aid and representatives of other international development organisations, alongside three former International Development Secretaries. It calls for urgent action and funding from the UK Government to help stop an already dire hunger crisis from escalating further.
In South Omo, southern Ethiopia, Christian Aid’s staff are witnessing first-hand the growing levels of malnutrition, caused because people simply don’t have enough to eat.
Yitna Tekaligne, Christian Aid’s Ethiopia Country Manager, says the emergency Scottish Government funding has been welcome during a very difficult period,
'It has been a very challenging year in South Omo, southern Ethiopia, and as Nasiya’s story highlights, the lack of food and water is having a devastating impact on ordinary families. Children aren’t getting the food they need to grow and thrive. It’s estimated that in this area alone around 55 thousand children will drop out of school because of hunger. What is very concerning is that we are now seeing a fifth consecutive season with no rain'.
While the increasing variability of weather patterns, due to climate change, affects us all, it affects some countries much more than others.
Mother of two Nayle Kamare has also received cash support as part of the Scottish Government’s HEF funding to Christian Aid. She is married with a young daughter and son. She can’t breastfeed her youngest child as she has no milk left, she’s not eating enough for her body to produce it. She’s really worried about her children’s health due to malnutrition. The cash payment she has received has, for just a short time, allowed her to buy the food staples she and her children need, to survive. But she remains desperately worried about her young family.
Scottish Government Humanitarian Emergency Fund
Our work in Ethiopia is supported by the Scottish Government Humanitarian Emergency Fund.