After 25 years of a famine that has killed a million people Ethiopia prompted one of the largest charity campaigns in history, the hunger-stricken country is asking for emergency food aid for 6.2 million people.
This comes as long drought and irregular rainfall are causing severe crop failure in some parts of Ethiopia. Here, Yangago Bunja, a farmer in Wolayta district in hardest-hit southern Ethiopia, describes what the total loss of his maize crop means for his family .
Drought is especially disastrous in Ethiopia because more than 80 percent of people live off the land. Agriculture drives the economy, accounting for half of all domestic production and most exports.
At present only 17% of Ethiopia’s 80 million people live in urban areas. Keeping people in the countryside is a way of preventing large-scale unemployment and the unrest that this might cause. But it’s also resulting in a situation where farmers cannot feed themselves or their families let alone the rest of the country.
But drought is not the only problem; many farms are so small and the land so overworked that it could not provide for the families that work it even with normal rainfall. Civil war and political instability have also greatly hindered relief work.
So, is famine inevitable in a country like Ethiopia? It’s constantly stricken by drought and if that isn’t the problem, political instability comes in the way of any type of growth. Should we accept that some countries will never have enough food for their people? Or is that a reflection on how the world ha s failed to solve the problem? In a world where obesity is endemic, why are we still letting others die of hunger?