Anyone who watched the news throughout the 1980s remembers vivid and heartbreaking images that came from Africa. Ethiopia, Somalia, and other nations around Africa’s Horn suffered a vicious drought that obliterated farms and ranches, causing a mass starvation that claimed the lives of over one million people who starved to death.
Millions were affected by this famine, and despite the news coverage and the attempt of many organizations to mobilize and provide some food relief, over 8 million people were severely victimized by the drought with over one million of those people dying. This was the infamous drought of 1984-1985 and was devastating to the nation, to their neighbors, and to families and individuals throughout that nation.
History Repeating Itself?
Many people aren’t aware that even just a few months into this year, the weather patterns being caused by El Nino are giving Ethiopia and the African Horn their worst drought in over 50 years – and that includes the infamous famine causing the heat of 1984 and 1985.
Usually the early season “Kimerat Rains” account for a full 80% to 85% of the water levels that are used throughout the entire farming region.
There are over 10 million Ethiopians who are in desperate need of food aid, with another 6 million who don’t have ready access to clean drinking water.
Fears are rapidly arising that a repeat of the 1984-1985 drought might be right around the corner as the days and weeks continue to pile up with no new rainfall in sight. Many charity organizations are already scrambling to work with the Ethiopian government and aid workers on the ground to bring in badly needed food and clean water, and set up a system to fight to prevent a repeat of the mass starvation that occurred nearly thirty years ago.
The Damage Has Already Been Devastating
Although many news sources have been surprisingly quiet about what is taking place in Ethiopia, the loss suffered because of this drought is already well underway. Considered at least the worst drought in the last 50 years, back to back drought years during the early raining season have been devastating.
Over 75% of total farming harvests have already been lost due to the heat and weather. This lack of water has also led to over 1 million livestock animals dying of thirst or starving to death because of the lack of area vegetation to graze on. There are anywhere from 10 to 15 million people who need some level of food assistance to meet the minimum basic needs for long-term nutritional health.
These numbers include over 430,000 children who are in danger of severe malnutrition because of the drought conditions.
The results from this level of a devastating drought are often further reaching than anyone thinks about. Schools shut down. Without a clean water source, hygiene becomes a serious issue, and many pests and diseases run rampant that would otherwise be kept in control.
In addition to this, entire institutions have been forced to shut down. Schools stop teaching, stunting education and skills growth. Services that rely on clean water sources cease and whole areas see life grind to a halt as entire villages struggle to survive amidst severe shortages of both food and water.
When the health, and even the very lives, of people, are in danger every single day, other things like public works and education take a back seat – even though it is those types of advances that can help an area the most in the long term with smart and dedicated professionals who understand the importance of skills to improve the quality of life throughout the entire area.
While still in the shadow of a drought from 30 years ago, an even worse one is currently afflicting Ethiopia and charities are racing to attempt and prevent the level of pain and suffering that occurred the last time.
Charities Need Help
While many charities are attempting to provide relief, both in creating a ground infrastructure for aid and getting enough coming in to cover everyone, they need help. The sheer number of people in need requires a massive response. From providing huge amounts of food and clean drinking water to helping build infrastructure and enough stabilizing influence to re-open schools, clinics, and other essential services in heavily hit areas.
Donations Are Being Accepted
United Muslim Relief (UMR) is accepting zakat donations to help bring much-needed food and nourishment to the drought-stricken nation of Ethiopia. If you are want to contribute to their charity work delivering badly needed food, water, and services to the most severely afflicted areas then make sure to contact United Muslim Relief for information on how you can donate to Ethiopia’s recovery.
Contributed by Yasin Aberra