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Resorting to desperate measures

This is the second part of Sarah Stack’s blog on the food crisis in Ethiopia. Mekonnen Shumbulo is helplessly watching his family fade away before his eyes.

In the lowlands of rural southern Ethiopia almost a year without rainfall is taking its toll. Farmers are struggling to cope. They’re warning the drought and massive food shortage will kill their neighbours and devastate communities.

A taboo

Mekonnen, a 28-year-old father of four, looks years beyond his age. The strain of this disaster is etched on his face. He admits he has had to feed seeds saved for the next harvest to his starving family - almost a taboo among his tight community.

"Eating seed is unacceptable, but with no rain at all, with a very long drought, it has resulted in this," he said. "The situation is very precarious and very terrible. We have nothing left to plant.”
The end of life

"When a farmer starts to eat seeds it means the end of life," said Concern's regional project manager Abraham Asha. "If you are at the point where you have to eat them, you are not continuing for the future. It is a big decision for someone to make. It is a desperate measure."

"If there is no rain, the crops that we are looking at will dry out," he said. "The problems will kill and will have an effect on the life of this whole community and society. It would be very devastating.”

Two million euro

Concern is in the heart of this region reaching out to the tens of thousands of Ethiopians at risk of starving to death during the massive food shortage. The emergency appeal to raise two million euro will fund supplementary food projects and buy quick growing seeds and tools for farmers.