News and Stories - Emergencies - 18th February 2016

Farmers bear the brunt of El Niño

Farmers bear the brunt of El Niño

The effects of El Niño have devastated parts of Africa, with severe drought causing widespread food shortages and destroying livelihoods.

With crops failing, farmers are feeling the full impact of the climate phenomenon. Five farmers from SNNPR (Southern Nations, Nationalities and People’s Region) in Ethiopia reveal how El Niño is affecting their farmland, and their families.

Worke Amenu

“My name is Worke Amenu. I live in Locka Abaya village in the Sidama district, SNNPR, Ethiopia. I am married with four children. My children are facing difficulties going to school due to the drought.

“As you can see teff seed [a hardy and nutritious grain] was sewn on my land, but it dried out due to lack of rainfall during the months following its growth period. We have faced difficulty harvesting any of our failed crops and now we are struggling to find food to eat as we are dependent on our farm.

“We are praying we find a way out of this drought before it’s too late.”

Thin cattle shelter from sun under tree in Babile district

Afra Argeta

“My name is Afra Argeta. I live in Locka Abaya village in the Sidama district of SNNPR. I have five children – three daughters and two sons. At the moment, only one is going to school.

“My community has been hit hardest by the drought. I collected about two quintals (200 kilograms) of corn from my farmland. We have used one quintal as our livelihood to earn money and we are eating the remaining quintal to stay alive.

“We are praying for an intervention before things become worse. The drought has hit hard the district since the seed sowing stage. We had no rain at all in the past few months. My family and I are waiting for help so we can survive this drought.”

My parents only taught me farming and I grew up to be a farmer. It’s all I know.

Children play amonst dried crops in Burka dimtu district, Oromia regional state

Eyasu Tunsisa

“My name is Eyasu Tunsisa. I live in the Locka Abaya district. I am married and my wife is six months pregnant with our first child.

“My only income is through farming. My parents taught me how to farm and I knew I would grow up to be farmer. My parents only taught me farming and I grew up to be a farmer. It’s all I know.

“This year is strange – it’s been a shock to everyone in the community. We’ve had almost no rain since our seeds were sown. We did not experience any sunlight during those months, which has strongly hindered the growth of crops. My family and I do not have anything to eat at home. I am being forced to buy food for high prices from remote markets to stay alive. I was expecting to get a bit of harvest from the field, but look at the sky. It is about to rain heavily. It will shatter and drop the crops and we will not have anything to harvest.

“We are helplessly sitting and worrying about what will happen next. When I am done with the money I have, I don’t know what will happen to my family. The government is supporting those in strife but soon that will be us. We need an intervention soon if lives are to be saved.”

Arid farm in Hawi Gudina district

Legesse Daarsa

“My name is Legesse Daarsa. I live in Setamo village, in the Dara district. There are eight people in my family – I have six children. Two of them were in school. Now, none are able to go due to the drought – they have to stay at home as we have nothing to eat. My children are seriously affected by the drought. They are getting ill.

“The rain didn’t appear at the right time. Now our crops are being washed away by torrential rain that we did not have previously. We are victims of nature. The government, along with charities such as Plan International, are helping our community by distributing Plumpy-nut, oil and corn flour. However, we need a coordinated effort to help us through this hard time.”

Arid farm land in Babile district

Tesfaye Wonje

“My name is Tesfaye Wonje. I live in Setamo village, in the Dara district. I have 10 children, but it is becoming impossible for them to attend school. They have little to eat and my heart is in agony. I have 0.125 hectare of land which I used to farm. I would farm corn, teff, sugarcane and banana, but all the crops on my farmland failed to produce any harvest. I am buying food items from the market to sustain the lives of my family. The government is helping those hit hard by the drought, but we need more organised support to reach all the affected people.”

Plan International, together with the Ethiopian government and other humanitarian organisations is currently distributing food, aid and water to families affected, but more needs to be done to stop the loss of life. You can help – donate to our work today.

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