Suffering and a Green Landscape: What is a Green Famine?
The trees look green, fields are planted…but why is there no food? “Green famines” exist in areas dependent on rain-fed agriculture and areas with extreme poverty. In over 80% of Ethiopia, family food and income largely depend on one thing – the weather. Families in the Roots Ethiopia work area rely on small-scale subsistence farming. Now, severe drought in some regions has come at a time when low rainfall and soaring inflation are keeping families from growing and/or accessing food.
Roots Ethiopia offers food support during times of hunger for two important reasons. First, it is the right thing to do. Second, food support supports our mission to send children to school and ensure students can stay in school. A family safe from severe hunger is a family who can continue to support better futures through the education of their children. Together, we invest in families so that they can build resilience through education and job creation.
How Does Weather Impact the Community?
In photographs, you may see green. It may be raining, and the distant observer thinks, ‘surely those crops are growing?’ This year, late, intermittent, and record-setting extremely low rainfall has created a life-threatening crisis for families. This is especially true in the lowland areas where the direst circumstances have put families at risk of severe malnutrition. They have lost their crops and their livestock. In one village where we work, the kebele agriculture leader said, “This village has 457 families. Nearly ½ of these families need food support right now.”
Let us break it down by season: The belg season had historically record low rainfall (February to May). Short cycle crops like corn, barley, and potatoes are low to no production. The kiremt rains that fall from June to September produce meher crops, the largest harvest near the end of September and into January. Kiremt rains are not yet enough to provide healthy growth. Families are waiting and hoping.
(Source: FewsNet — the green highlighted area is the Roots Ethiopia agriculture area)
When communities rely on rain-fed agriculture, they are entirely dependent on predictable growing seasons and harvesting. One or two big disruptions in the grow and harvest schedules mean that families must wait weeks or months hoping that their next harvest will produce food. And this is the situation that has created the food crisis right now. The elderly, nursing mothers and babies are the most at risk for starvation.
Families cope with severe food shortages using many survival strategies. Families members and children migrate to towns and cities to find work and food. Other families abandon their homes and their land and head out in search of food. Others take apart their homes, piece by piece, to sell the wood to buy food. Some families are keeping children out of school so they can help collect non-food items like firewood to sell in the market.
Still, others find marriages for daughters so they can reduce the number of children in their homes. The hardships are great burdens on everyone in the family, especially girls.
How you can help.
You make a difference during these difficult days. Your support helps provide food support to keep families from severe hunger. With $60 one family will receive 100 kg of corn and $15 in direct cash support. The cash puts money right back into the local market and allows families to manage their most urgent needs, like paying rent, buying cooking oil or salt, and other priorities. When mothers like Almaz receive food, it is a gift of hope. Donate Today.
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