Six hundred miles to the southeast of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’s Somali region is hungry, too – or more accurately, it is thirsty.

By Ryan Lenora Brown (Correspondent, CS Monitor) |

Battered by drought and civil wars, more than 20 million people from Yemen to Tanzania are at risk of starvation in what aid workers call the largest humanitarian crisis since World War II. But over the past two decades, nations that once produced searing images of famine’s toll have moved to thwart it by strengthening community resilience. Our reporters traveled to Madagascar, Ethiopia, and Somaliland to investigate the daunting challenges as well as the long-term efforts that are saving lives.

Addis Ababa is hungry. These days, Ethiopia’s capital seems to need more of almost everything: land for factories, shopping malls and highways; steel and concrete to build new skyscrapers; lanky rods of eucalyptus to scaffold their skeletons as they rise. Addis needs more roads, schools, houses, and cars. It needs apartment buildings for its migrants, and five-star hotels for the unending parade of diplomats attending African Union meetings in the glossy new Chinese-bankrolled headquarters at the center of town. The city fills out and up, seemingly insatiable, nibbling into surrounding farmland and poking higher and higher into the smoggy highland sky.

Six hundred miles to the southeast, meanwhile, Ethiopia’s Somali region is hungry, too – or more accurately, it is thirsty. It hasn’t rained here – at least, not enough – in more than a year, and more rain isn’t expected until October. It’s already been long enough that grazing lands have grown huge bald spots, and intake at pediatric malnutrition wards has doubled. It’s long enough that ribs ripple visibly beneath the skin of those few cows and camels that have survived, and long enough to leave thousands of young people stranded in romantic purgatory: engaged, in love, but without the money to pay yarad, the traditional Somali bride price.

Unlike in Addis Ababa, where old Soviet Ladas jostle for space with high-end SUVs on traffic-clogged streets, practically the only vehicles on the roads here are ancient, bug-eyed Mercedes cargo trucks carting water and food aid into remote towns.

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