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Ethiopia is facing its fourth consecutive season of drought, compounded by the recent rise in food and fuel due to the war in Ukraine. The World Food Programme (WFP) says with crops continuing to fail and livestock being wiped out, an estimated 7.2 million people are waking up hungry every day in southern and south-eastern Ethiopia. We hear from two people fighting the impact of climate change with the help of Trócaire and our partners.
Just three years ago, before the start of the current cycle of no rain and drought in Ethiopia, Guyo and his family had 28 cattle, three camels and 12 goats. Now, he has just three cows and one camel to sustain his family.
“We have had three consecutive years of drought. It’s the worst drought in the last two decades,” Guyo said.
“Some of my friends have migrated away, but the drought reaches far and wide, you cannot escape it. The only thing we can do is invest in animal feed to keep our remaining livestock alive. The livestock are our only way to generate an income, without them we are as good as dead.”
Two months into what should be the current rainy season it is still dry. If the rains don’t come it will be the fourth consecutive failed season compounding food and fuel price rises because of the war in Ukraine.
The World Food Programme (WFP) says with crops continuing to fail and livestock being wiped out, an estimated 7.2 million people wake up hungry every day in southern and south-eastern Ethiopia.
Time is fast running out for Guyo and other families who are struggling to survive.
“My biggest fear is that once all our livestock are dead, next it will be the women and children. Our community is malnourished already, death is not far away. We have lived here for centuries and have weathered droughts before, but this is different, this feels unnatural. Climate change is killing us,” Guyo said.
Trócaire, in partnership with Community Initiatives Facilitation and Assistance (CIFA) and CST, (the three catholic humanitarian agencies CAFOD, SCIAF, and Trocaire), have been working with Guyo and his community in the Borena zone to help reduce poverty and improve the economic opportunities of 5,351 women and young people over three years. The programme received funding from Jersey Overseas Aid.
“Trócaire helped us to fence off large areas of pastoral land to stop animals from grazing there and to allow the grass to grow so that we can harvest it for future use. We were also supported to clear the pastoral land of all bushes to prepare for grass growth. We were paid by CIFA/CST/Trócaire for our labour too. I think we cleared between 300 to 400 hectares in two months. The temperature was around 40 degrees, but we knew it had to be done for our future survival.”
Guyo thanked the people of Ireland for their continued support.
“Please stand by us during this unprecedented time. We will do whatever is in our power to survive, but I fear it is no longer enough.”
In South Omo in Southern Ethiopia mother-of-five Hadoya Rubitte (25) is struggling to provide for her young family due to the ongoing drought.
Hadoya works as a pastoralist and makes a living from releasing her herd onto large areas of land for grazing. Pastoralism is practised in areas that are too dry to grow traditional crops and that are vulnerable to climate change.
“The drought has taken all the grass, there is no grazing anymore. Fattening my goats is becoming more and more difficult,” said Hadoya.
Trócaire and partners Agri Service Ethiopia (ASE) are supporting 1,692 people in the area with funding from the EU. Hadoya has taken out Index Based Livestock Insurance (IBLI) to buy food for her livestock.
“Trócaire gave me three goats to fatten, multiply, and sell for a profit. But I will never sell all my goats, I will always keep some for my family. When I’m sleeping, I dream about what I have been given. These goats are my life,” said Hadoya.
The mother-of-five said that before the project, she was lost but now she has learned to sustain her livelihood.
“I am very happy. I love working hard. I love being able to look after my family. The income has allowed me to buy two mobile phones which has changed our lives in two major ways”
“I can give one of the phones to my eight-year-old son, Arkol, when he takes the goats out to graze. Before we had the phones, I would worry so much about him, he is so young, and the world is such a dangerous place. I wouldn’t know if Arkol had fallen down a ravine, been bitten by a snake, or even attacked by an enemy. But now I can call him on the phone to check on him, make sure he is okay.”
Having the phone also means that she doesn’t have to travel to the market to negotiate a price for a goat. “Now I can call my contacts and do all my business from home. It has saved me so much time and money. I can spend my time looking after my family and working, as it should be.”