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Ethiopia: "our worst year yet"

Sarah Stack is blogging with us this week on the food crisis in Ethiopia.

You can read her previous entries here (part one) and here (part two).

Around eight miles up a remote dirt track, hundreds of hungry people queue outside the Girara clinic. In the midst of the harrowing scenes a small squabble breaks out.

Mothers desperate to feed their children

Workinesh Wondimu is among a group of desperate women who brawl over a small amount of flour to feed to their starving children. Her three-year-old daughter Abebech sits quietly nearby. She’s eating a nutrition biscuit handed out by care staff. In the other hand she clings to a bottle of cooking oil, which her mother will mix with the flour to make porridge as part of the programme.

No alternative

Workinesh walked for an hour to get to the clinic, run by the Ministry of Health. "If we continue this programme it will be a big improvement. We have no alternative than to come here," she said. Abebech is making good progress and has advanced from a scheme targeting the severely underweight.

"Because of the shortage of rain we have a big crop problem, it's not good," Workinesh said. "We have sold our livestock and fuel wood to buy maize for food. This has been our worst year yet."

More help needed

Concern's regional project manager Abraham Asha maintains that local government and aid organisations are doing all they can. He said community volunteers and leaders across the area are working hard to screen youngsters and refer them to programmes.

"The programmes are reaching more and more communities," he said. "But more and more children will die unless more help is brought in."