Horn of Africa Drought Displaces Families

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Posted on 12/23/2013

Desperate families sell the roofs over their heads for food

Kabeto never thought things would come to this.

A young child eagerly eats bread.
ChildFund is targeting its drought relief efforts on children 5 and younger and their mothers, who are most at risk of nutritional deficiencies.

“We lost all our crops,” says this village leader in Ethiopia. “First, it was because of the heavy rain that washed out the harvest. Again we planted, but then the rain didn’t come at all. We depend on rain, and it has failed us!”

Kabeto is just one of the more than 12.4 million people the U.N. estimates are at risk in the Horn of Africa, which includes three countries where ChildFund works — Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda.

“People are doing everything they can to feed their family,” he says. “They do the unexpected.”


No one imagines selling off their household goods to buy food, but many in Ethiopia and Kenya are doing exactly that — letting go of the table, a chair, a well-used pot, the bedding, until nothing is left.

Next to go is the livestock, if any have survived — the chickens that scratched in the yard, the cow that nuzzled while being milked, the faithful ox that plowed the now-parched wreck of a field. There is no money for feeding animals, once the sole source of income for many Ethiopians.

Finally, parents tear the corrugated metal off their roofs, sheet by sheet, to sell for food staples now commanding prices double or, in some areas, triple what they used to be.

The children can only look on as their homes are taken apart.

“Our children are suffering,” Kabeto says. “Children are sick. They have dropped from school. They are on the verge of death.”

In the end, families walk away from the shells of their homes. With the clothes on their backs and their listless children in their arms, they head toward where they hope to find help — the nearest city, perhaps. Many will be turned away.

The people of the Horn of Africa are letting go of all that they have so they can hang on to life. Help ChildFund help children and their families stay home.