Foodgrains Bank Responding to El Nino Crisis in Ethiopia

Monday, March 21, 2016

Foodgrains Bank Responding to El Nino Crisis in Ethiopia

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Canadian Foodgrains Bank is responding to the growing food crisis in Ethiopia, where a prolonged drought from one of the most powerful El Nino events in recent history could lead to as many as 10 million people requiring food assistance.

“The people of this beautiful country are facing their worst drought in 30 years,” United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon said from Ethiopia on January 31 during a visit with representatives of the United Nations World Food Programme.

“The impact of El Niño is unpredictable, but experts say it is likely to affect food security for the next two years,” he said.

Ban praised the Ethiopian government’s response, but stressed that the international community has a strong role to play.

“This is a very moving experience for me as Secretary-General to witness myself how the Ethiopian Government and the United Nations agencies, the World Bank, all humanitarian workers are working together to address difficult challenges,” he said.

Foodgrains Bank member Canadian Lutheran World Relief Community Relations Director Tom Brook was also recently in Ethiopia. He echoes the comments from the Secretary General.

“There has been an explosion of people migrating to the major centers as they look for food and relief from conditions in the hardest hit regions,” he says.

“Farmers are selling their livestock to buy food, but many are finding their livestock are in such bad shape that they cannot be sold,” he says.

Through its members, the Foodgrains Bank has approved four new projects totaling $2.25 million.

In the Oromia region of Ethiopia, Foodgrains Bank member World Renew is responding through Food for the Hungry Ethiopia with a project that is providing emergency food rations of maize, beans, and oil for 41,000 people.

About 14,000 of these people are nursing and pregnant women and children under the age of five who are also being provided with Famix, a nutritious supplementary food.

In the south-western area of the country, Foodgrains Bank member World Relief Canada is responding to the drought with a food-for-work program for 3,000 households (about 15,000 people) through the Wolayta Kale Heywet Church.

Participants will receive food rations for their families in return for their labour rehabilitating degraded land in the community.

In the remote northern Afar Region, Foodgrains Bank member Mennonite Central Committee is responding through the Afar Pastoralists Development Association.

Extreme drought over the past few years in this pastoral region has reduced the number of goats in the pastoral community. Without the goats upon which they depend for food and milk, people are undernourished, and are struggling.

This project is re-stocking goat herds for 400 families. The project budget was increased when conditions worsened, and additional fodder for goats had to be purchased in order to ensure their survival.

Foodgrains Bank member Canadian Lutheran World Relief is also responding to the needs of drought-affected people in the Afar region by providing food and supporting community members in building a permanent, sustainable irrigation system for use in growing crops.

One member of each participating household is receiving food in return for their labour on the project, and households are also receiving sustainable agriculture training. The project is being implemented over three years by Support for Sustainable Development.

Financial support is also being provided by the United Church of Canada.

The Foodgrains Bank has had a continuous presence in Ethiopia since the 1980s, both responding to food emergencies and supporting the efforts of farmers to grow more food in the longer term.

Plans are being made for a continued El Nino response in Ethiopia in the months ahead.