El Niño: Ethiopian families on the brink

In the northeast of Ethiopia, a mother of four prepared a meal for her children with the very last sorghum grains she had left. These seeds were supposed to be planted for the next harvest.

The El Niño weather system has caused an extreme drought in Ethiopia. Crops have failed completely in large areas of the country. More than 10 million people depend on food assistance from the government and aid agencies like CARE, but without more funding food supplies will run out next month.

Tuba Aliye lives in Robayo in Eastern Hararghe with her three of her four children. She had to send one child away to live with her sister, as she could not provide for all herself. Her husband has gone to work in a nearby city. He used to farm the land, but now the harvest has failed twice and there is no more farm work to do.

The family now has three livestock and two chickens. They used to have more than twenty. Tuba bought an ox with a loan from the village savings and loan association (VSLA). They were going to use it for farming, but now they cannot farm, and she is unable to sell it because today nobody can afford to buy. So they have to keep it, and feed it, which is hard when they do not even have food enough to eat themselves.

Twice a day Tuba walks with her baby on her back for two hours to fetch water in the Ebalo river. It is dirty water. Animals drink there too, and people use it to wash clothes, but it is the closest source she has, and there is no other water she as access to.

Four times a week Tuba collects wood for cooking. It takes about two hours to collect, and it is getting more and more difficult to find wood as it is scarce. Everybody is cutting the forest, and nothing new is planted – and even if they did plant, nothing would grow without water.

Today Tuba prepares food made from the very last sorghum she has. The sorghum was saved to plant for the next harvest, but now she has to eat those seeds, which means that later she will have nothing to plant.

CARE is supporting the Ethiopian government’s assistance to people affected by the drought by providing emergency food supplies, clean water and helping vulnerable communities strengthen their resilience to future crises. The demands for aid are great and we need your support to meet them.