Food Aid Donation during the Drought in Ethiopia

8.5 million people are suffering from crop failure and are threatened by hunger.


At the end of 2015 parts of Ethiopia were affected by the most severe drought and crop failure since 30 years. Still the situation is very difficult. In the beginning of 2016 the United Nations estimated that 10 million people will be affected and in need for food aid. According to the United Nations, the number of people requiring humanitarian assistance has increased from 5.6 million to 7.78 million in the first quarter of the year 2017. In the second half of 2017 the number of people who will require relief food assistance has further increased to 8.5 million. (Source: UN OCHA, Humanitarian Bulletin)

In November 2015 Menschen für Menschen started an emergency aid programme in Agarfa southeasterly of the capital Addis Abeba. This region lies outside of our normal project areas.

Report on the start of the emergency aid programme by Austrian Broadcasting Corporation (ORF):
(German only)


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 About 32,000 people in the region of Agarfa have been receiving urgently needed basic foods.

Each person received 15 kg of grains, 1.5 kg of legumes and 0.45 kg of cooking oil. Pregnant women, nursing mothers and infants also receive Famix, a nutrient-rich food supplement.

 After the first rainfalls in the middle of 2016 the situation has improved and people started to sow seeds. Also in Agarfa the situation became better. Unfortunately the rainfalls stopped again with the consequence that there was no harvest in many of the affected regions. Due to poor performing spring rains in 2017 people are still in need of food aid. Currently an estimated 24.500 people in Agarfa require relief food assistance.  (May 2017)

Quick help is important!

Menschen für Menschen provides emergency aid in addition to the long-term work in the project regions.Therefore additional financial funds are necessary. “Menschen für Menschen is financed by private donors”, so Rupert Weber.”Only through the quick support of our austrian donors and our partners RED CHAIRity, an initiative of the XXXLutz Group the emergency aid for 32.000 people was possible. We want to thank all of them for their trust in our work and their substantial support.

Start of the Emergency Aid – a Report from Agarfa

On 30 November 2015 emergency aid in the region of Agarfa has started. The region is actually known for its high wheat production. But in some areas of the region it has not really rained for two years. Many farmers say they have sown seeds for the third time already – without any success.

On the way to Makala, where the Menschen für Menschen distribution centre is set up, it becomes obvious how dramatic the situation is. The slopes are full of dried up fields.

Whenever something did grow the plants have wasted away. Maize plants are only waist-high and hardly bear any fruit. The ears of the measly wheat are empty.

A total of 28,000 people in the Agarfa region will be given food aid; initially for a period of four months. In Makala, the first place we visit, 6,000 of 6,024 inhabitants require food aid. The remaining 24 inhabitants have long moved to the highlands, where they are supported by relatives.
The people in Makala are particularly affected by the drought. There is hardly any water left here. The vestigial fields are left to the few animals that the farmers have not had to sell yet.

It becomes clear that the situation is precarious. Not helping now means risking people’s lives. Families receive wheat, peas and oil. A standard packet recommended by the United Nations’ World Food Programme. In addition there is nutrient-rich Famix, which supplies infants and pregnant and nursing women with additional calories.
Grains and legumes were bought in Bale Robe, near Agarfa, following an open tender; Famix from the manufacturing company Fafa Food in Addis Ababa. Cooking oil enriched with valuable vitamins was also bought in Addis Ababa, from Mojo Edible Oil Factory.

The food is stored in the city of Agarfa – the storage rooms are made available to Menschen für Menschen free of charge. From there it is distributed to three further sites in the region, and from there to a total of 28 communities.
Menschen für Menschen draws on its own infrastructure. The food is brought to the affected regions with the organisation’s lorries and distributed on site by Ethiopian employees. A concept that proved successful during the 2011 hunger catastrophe. This way we can ensure that aid arrives where it is needed the most.

Each person will receive 15 kg of grains, 1.5 kg of legumes and 0.45 kg of cooking oil. Pregnant women, nursing mothers and infants also receive Famix, a nutrient-rich food supplement.
Everyone who receives a food ration is registered. During the distribution the collection is noted, i.e. it has to be confirmed with a signature or fingerprint. Food is distributed on a monthly basis.

Menschen für Menschen provides emergency aid in addition to the long-term work in the project regions. This means that reserves need to be drawn on for this emergency aid.
projekte-gebiete-abune-gindeberet-Red-chairity-logo-webFor two months Menschen für Menschen will finance the emergency food aid from reserves. Two more months of food aid are made possible through the support of RED CHAIRity, an initiative of the XXXLutz Group. We want to thank RED CHAIRity for their trust in our work and their substantial support.

Which regions are affected?

Mainly regions in the north and east of the country are suffering from massive drought. Menschen für Menschen provides emergency aid in the areas of Dinsho and Adaba, located southeast of the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa. Both of these affected areas are located outside the project areas of Menschen für Menschen and are supported due to the current emergency situation.

The acute drought also affects Menschen für Menschen project areas. However, the sustainable approach mitigates the consequences. According to the current situation, distribution of food by Menschen für Menschen in these areas is not needed.


Distribution of donated relief supplies – implementation on site

Each family requiring food aid will be registered and receives a ration card. With this they receive the respective food, depending on the size of their family, from the distribution point. The receipt is confirmed with a signature or fingerprint. The card must be brought along to future food distributions. The distribution of food takes place on a monthly basis.


The main factors behind the hunger

The current drought in Ethiopia is a consequence of El Niño. The weather phenomenon occurs irregularly, and meteorologists fear that this year will have particularly disastrous impacts. In Ethiopia the first impacts are already visible. The majority of the country’s population (about 85% of the people work in agriculture – mostly as small farmers) depends on the big rainy season between June and September. This year this important rain started too late and was very low. Especially regions in the north and east of the country are affected by this.

Aid organisations such as Menschen für Menschen and, of course, the Ethiopian government closely observe and examine the effects of such droughts, and prepare for possible emergency situations.

According to official information, 230 million dollars will be needed in Ethiopia to prevent imminent hunger and its consequences (Humanitarian Requirements Mid-Year Review).


Hunger does not happen over night

Periods of drought cannot be prevented. However, when families are able to store food because their fields yield enough, and they earn an additional income apart from agriculture, it is possible to considerably mitigate the consequences of such periods of drought.

This is where the project work of Menschen für Menschen starts: in courses the people in the project areas learn new skills about erosion prevention, improved cultivation methods and irrigation. The introduction of new and higher yielding varieties of fruits and vegetables further improves the harvest and with that the farmers’ income, enabling them to build up stock for emergencies. Further measures from Menschen für Menschen like the microcredit programme or craft courses offer people the opportunity to earn an income that is not related to agriculture.

In Ethiopia 85% of the population still lives from agriculture. The majority has to make a living as small farmers. (Source: CIA World Factbook online: retrieved February 2015)


Under- and malnourishment – lasting consequences

The first 1,000 days after conception are crucial for a child’s physical and mental development. In case of undernourishment the brain and nervous system are poorly developed and the immune system weakened. Due to this the children affected often suffer from anaemia, diarrhoea, fever and infections of the respiratory tract. Child mortality also increases. 28% of all deaths among children in Ethiopia are due to undernourishment.

On average malnourished children or chronically undernourished children attend school at least one year less. 16% of class repeaters in primary school suffer from undernourishment. This increases the costs for education and further burdens the school system.

67% of Ethiopia’s adult population suffered from undernourishment in their childhood. Due to this they often have a lower level of education and perform simple manual work. In sum, they are less productive and therefore contribute less to the economic performance and development of the country. Among women undernourishment can endanger the pregnancy and may lead to children being impaired in the womb or after birth.