CAFOD has pledged an initial 80,000 Euros to partners who are providing vital support to people affected by the worsening food crisis in Ethiopia.

CAFOD’s aid is part of an initial 200,000 Euro joint response with Trocaire and SCIAF. It is a first phase response and it is expected that more help will be needed over the coming months.

Latest government figures estimate that more than 4.5 million people are in need of emergency food aid and 75,000 children are severely malnourished.

Drought earlier this year has resulted in almost total harvest failure in parts of the country. There has been widespread death of livestock as grazing land disappears. The crisis has been exacerbated by rising food and fuel prices.

CAFOD is working through the Ethiopian Catholic Secretariat, supporting work in six of the worst affected dioceses – Soddo Hosanna, Awassa, Meki and Emdebir in the south and west, Hararghe in the east and Adigrat in the north.

The initial response will aim to provide food to more than 19,000 malnourished children and 4,000 pregnant and breastfeeding mothers for the next five months.

Beverley Jones, Joint Country Representative for CAFOD, Trocaire and SCIAF in Ethiopia said: “Malnutrition is increasing at an alarming rate. We wouldn’t expect people to be so severely affected by the failed harvest, but food is much more expensive – prices have increased by over 40% in some areas.

“The situation is worst affecting communities in the poorer rural areas where people are more vulnerable to food insecurity because they are so hard to reach. Children in particular are more susceptible to illness and it’s vital that we get food to them now.

“A good harvest in October is key to stabilising the situation. However, even with good rains this is not guaranteed as some farmers have been forced to eat their seed to survive the current food crisis.”