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Ethiopian emergency appeal launched

Concern Worldwide says the food crisis in parts of Ethiopia is critical and that immediate action is required to avert a humanitarian disaster. More than 4.5 million Ethiopians are in need of emergency assistance as a result of serious food shortages and rising levels of malnutrition.

Tens of thousands of children are already suffering from acute malnutrition and illness. This is in addition to the eight million people in Ethiopia who already receive regular food aid. Concern is launching an emergency appeal to raise at least €2 million to increase its operations to respond to the deteriorating situation.

Funds raised will be used to help drought affected families in Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia.

Major problems with supply

Concern’s Country Director in Ethiopia, Aine Fay says, “Food supply is a major problem. The teams in Ethiopia are being forced to make awful choices. There are around 100 malnourished children arriving at the clinics each day. Because there are not enough resources to treat everyone we have to focus on children under five and turn others away. We are having to choose between life and death and we shouldn’t have to do that. We urgently need funds to help us buy supplementary food as well as intravenous drugs to treat children who are too weak to eat and need in-patient drip feeding.”

Two rainy seasons a year

The current food crisis has been brought about by a number of factors including the worst drought in years in the Horn of Africa region. Subsistence farmers in Ethiopia rely on two rainy seasons a year: the “mehr” from June to July and the “belg” from January to February. Because the “belg” rains failed this year livestock died and crops withered. The situation has been further aggravated by spiralling food prices.

In larger towns, the price of basic grains has doubled. The price of teff, one of the most important grains in Ethiopia, has trebled. The worst affected areas are in south and south-eastern Ethiopia, Somali Region, Oromiya, Southern Nations, and Nationalities and People’s Region.

Plumpy nut

Concern is currently providing food to 1,500 malnourished children and pregnant and lactating women and expects that figure to double in the next few weeks. Concern teams are working closely with the Ethiopian Ministry of Health helping with provision of staff and transportation and distribution of food.

Concern is distributing plumpy nut, a high protein, ready to eat peanut paste, which is being given to severely malnourished children as part of its pioneering out-patient treatment of malnutrition (known as CMAM). However, stocks of plumpy nut are limited and the price is rising rapidly.

Immediacy of the crisis

“In some regions, health centres and food distribution centres are already being overwhelmed by the numbers of children attending. Children are the most vulnerable in this situation but Concern staff on the ground are also seeing growing numbers of adolescents and adults in distress. The immediacy of the crisis needs to be stressed. Unless urgent and effective aid is provided, thousands may die. Emergency food supplies, water, and healthcare supplies are urgently needed”, explains Concern’s Overseas Director, Paul O’Brien.