In 2008, with thousands of children in Ethiopia facing acute malnutrition, the British Red Cross launched an appeal to provide emergency aid. Thanks to the generosity of the public £170,500 was raised.
Many households in the Wolaita area in southern Ethiopia are unable to get enough food even in a good year. Then three harvests in a row failed due to floods and drought. Added to this, food prices shot up. This meant that people who needed to buy more food as a result of losing their crops could not afford to do so.
Farmers were not the only people affected. The poor in rural and urban areas are completely dependent on the market.
As the situation got worse and living conditions deteriorated, many people exhausted all their resources and were unable to feed themselves.
Food prices rose by 330 per cent after a year of adverse weather conditions and high general inflation. Floods in late 2007 and unusually heavy rain in summer 2008 destroyed most of the maize, millet, wheat, teff grain and haricot bean crops. Then the short rainy season that usually occurs in August was dry. This led to severe food and water shortages.
Accessing water and food
In Damota Pulasa in southern Ethiopia, nearly half of the 54 hand-dug wells and 13 of the 39 shallow wells were out of operation. As a result, people had to walk long distances to fetch water and the health of the population – particularly that of young children, pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers – was at risk.
“There are more than 16,000 acutely malnourished children in Damot Gale and Damot Pulasa, of whom 1,614 receive intensive care in therapeutic centres across the two regions. The situation will deteriorate if we are not able to intervene efficiently,” warned Fasika Kebede, Secretary General of the Ethiopian Red Cross.
The Ethiopia Red Cross has been distributed food relief and improved access to water, as well as giving out seeds so farmers could plant again.
How we helped
The Red Cross assisted more than 76,000 people severely affected by drought in the southern Wolaita region.
The organisation provided emergency food and relief assistance, as well as hygiene promotion, improving access to safe water and early recovery activities including providing livestock.
The operation, which the Ethiopian Red Cross launched in May 2008 to help 40,000 people in Damot Pulasa, was extended in August 2008 to support an additional 36,000 villagers in neighbouring Damot Gale.
The Red Cross operation was designed to complement support from the government and other humanitarian organisations, helping the families of children being treated in therapeutic feeding centres.
Immediate and long-term relief
The Red Cross distributed food and seeds and donations allowed the Red Cross to buy and distribute thousands of sheep as well as agricultural tools to prevent further damage to people’s livelihoods.
Find out about current emergencies
Last updated July 2011