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Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Ethiopia: update on survivors of 2008 drought

A HOPE International Development Agency Ethiopia staff member sends us this update on the communities in Southern Ethiopia where we provided emergency aid during the 2008 drought.

The year 2008 was a difficult one for the people of the district of Derashe in Southern Ethiopia. The spring rains had failed. That is a major disaster for people who barely grow enough to feed their families at the best of times. Also, such periods of drought exacerbate underlying tribal tensions that are caused by the competition for meager resources.

As a result of all these factors the communities of Lockte, Degamashille, Addis Oltoma, Delbena and Tsemaha where HOPE is working were severely affected by the drought as well as displacement as a result of conflict. As is usually the case in these situations, children are the first to fall sick and die.

HOPE responded quickly to stop that. Highly nutritional children’s food, wheat flour, maize and cooking oil as well as medical supplies and blankets for the displaced were quickly distributed by HOPE staff, reaching thousands of people.

This kept the people alive until it started to rain again. But in order to avoid this happening again a long-term solution is needed: a water system that will be available year round.

The HOPE team went back in February this year and developed several springs in the villages of Addis Oltoma and Tsemaha. The people who, a year ago, were on the verge of dying from drought, were working together with our staff this year to put in the water system that will guarantee their survival in the coming years. That is the long term solution that gives them hope.

As per HOPE’s mandate of long-term development, not only did these families survive, but they are now well poised to withstand difficulties in the future. In a short span of time, they’ve crossed the threshold from mere survival to the beginnings of self-reliance. We thank every donor that made this incredible outcome possible.

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