In the wake of drought and many weeks of humanitarian relief
efforts in the Horn of Africa, people in several regions of Ethiopia are in a
fragile state, says Charles MacCormack, president and chief executive officer
of Save the Children.
Just returned to the United States from a week investigating
projects of Save the Children, one of the nation’s humanitarian partners and
visiting feeding stations in Ethiopia, MacCormack spoke to VOA’s Henok Fente
for the Amharic service about what he witnessed.
Drought and resulting food shortages that devastated parts
of eastern and southern Ethiopia have reportedly spread to the northeastern
region of Afar. The United Nations
estimates more than 3 million people in the Horn of Africa face dire
conditions. The situation has worsened with rising food costs and conflicts in the sub-region.
“It is very serious. Several different trends have come
together. One is climate change and great uncertainty and changes in the
rainfall. The second is the increased
cost of foodstuff. The third is the fact that the worldwide food system is
drastically stretched beyond anything anyone has known in a generation.”
was in Ethiopia visiting drought-stricken regions and to discuss the
humanitarian situation in the country with authorities. He said, what he saw in
southern Ethiopia was that severe hunger has expanded the number of people who
need emergency assistance.
saw thousands and thousands of severely malnourished children, many times more
a number than what was the case even four months ago. I was in Ethiopia only
four or five months ago, and there was really no sign of wide spread
malnutrition.” But now MacCormack said thousands of family members with their
severely malnourished children are looking for help in clinics.
Ethiopian government a few months ago issued a statement saying more than
70-thousand children are severely malnourished. According to MacCormack, the
situation has worsened since.
numbers are definitely increasing as the reserves that people have available
are used up. The rain continues to fall at different times. So the problem is
now more severe than it was four months ago.”
said the Ethiopian government and humanitarian organizations have built
capacity and are better prepared to alleviate the situation.
are many more clinics and village health workers and trained staff than there
were four or five years ago working for the government of Ethiopia and the
authorities deny the occurrence of severe drought in the semiarid Afar region
affecting the livelihood of nomads in the area.