December 18, 2015
International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC) today announced that they are preparing to release emergency funds to respond to the urgent needs of people affected by the worst drought in Ethiopia in decades. IOCC, an ACT Alliance member, is working in collaboration with the Ethiopian Orthodox Church Development and Inter-Church Aid Commission to alleviate suffering caused by widespread drought conditions in southern and eastern regions of Ethiopia.
Seasonal spring and summer rainfall critical for the cultivation of teff, a nutrient-rich cereal grass cultivated for millennia in Ethiopia, and other food staples has been insufficient and resulted in widespread crop failures. The emergency funding will provide communities with crucial water supplies for human and livestock consumption as well as the provision of animal feed.
"The short term-need to provide emergency food and water for millions of Ethiopians is critical," cautioned IOCC Ethiopia Country Representative Dr. Seifu Tirfie. "If we don't act quickly, the deteriorating situation may have devastating effects on the lives of millions of Ethiopians."
IOCC's response to the emergency will focus on the provision of water, sanitation and hygiene resources. Feed for livestock, a primary source of income and food for many rural families and subsistence farmers, will also be provided to help improve nutrition for affected families.
Tirfie reflected on a recent visit to drought-affected communities 160 miles northeast of the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, where he met Mekia, a 36-year-old mother of four. When she ran out of food for her children and feed for her animals earlier this year, she sold her only cow to buy food and meet other critical needs for her family. Now eight months pregnant with her fifth child, she is malnourished and losing weight from a lack of balanced food that her body requires.
"The effects of the drought have been devastating for her," said Tirfie. Only 100 pounds of teff was harvested from the small plot adjacent to Mekia's small cottage. "Her life is at risk if she doesn't get necessary nutritious food and close follow-up with local health workers." The drought and attending malnutrition will have long-term effects for Mekia's children who lack adequate nutrition for normal growth and development.
More than 10.2 million people in Ethiopia are currently in need of emergency food assistance due to the drought, which is expected to worsen due to El Niño conditions.
HOW YOU CAN HELP
You can help the victims of poverty and conflicts around the world, like those suffering from drought in Ethiopia, by making a financial gift to the International Emergency Response Fund which will provide immediate relief, as well as long-term support through the provision of emergency aid, recovery assistance and other support to help those in need. To make a gift, please visit iocc.org or call toll free at 1-877-803-IOCC (4622), or mail a check or money order payable to IOCC, P.O. Box 17398, Baltimore, MD 21297.