Caritas Ethiopia is providing cash to a vulnerable households while offering cash-for-work projects, such as water tanks and dams, seed support and water and sanitation assistance.

By Caritas Internationalis |

Every day is a struggle to survive for Rahel, 34, and her family in Sebeya, a village in one of the worst drought-affected areas on the Ethiopian border with Eritrea. Her husband is a soldier and often away. She works as a farm laborer when she can find work to feed herself and her young daughters, Danait and Melat.

“This last year has been the worst ever. I have little or no money coming into the house,” said Rahel. “There has been no rain, no harvest. The ground has remained a desert, offering us nothing.”

Most Ethiopians rely on farming and cattle-herding to feed their families and make a living. But worsening drought, irregular rainfall and poor soil quality due to overgrazing and deforestation have had a devastating impact.

Demand for aid has risen dramatically. More than 10.2 million people now need emergency food assistance, 1.2 million women and children need supplementary food aid, 400,000 children are suffering from severe malnutrition.

Worse than 2011

Caritas Ethiopia (the Catholic Secretariat of Ethiopia) is providing cash to a vulnerable households while offering cash-for-work projects, such as water tanks and dams, seed support and water and sanitation assistance.

ALSO READ Coventry City (England) Catholic Charity Launches Appeal to Help Ethiopian Drought Victims

In a good harvest season, Rahel can earn somewhere between 250 to 300 Birr ($US11 – $13). This year her income has dropped to less than half that amount.“We are barely surviving,” said Rahel. “I must do everything I can to make sure we survive.”

Rahel has made a little money selling eggs but has relied on support from Caritas. She has just taken part in a ‘cash-for-work’ scheme at a local dam which is collecting rainwater from mountain runoff for the community.

She has trouble earning enough money to feed her children. “It’s the worst thing as a mother to see your child losing weight, getting skinny, it’s very depressing for me,” she said. “I can’t remember when we all last ate three meals a day.”

Every child a meal at lunchtime

Fr. Solomon, from the Adigrat Caritas diocesan office said, “We’re reaching the most vulnerable in communities with direct cash transfers and cash for work. We’re getting aid to where it is needed, but we’re doing it in such a way that it gives the person dignity.”

Continue reading this story on Caritas
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