Welcome to Eureka Street

back to site


Impending catastrophe leads calls to help fight famine

  • 10 August 2022
Currently, 928 million people around the world are struggling to find food. Of that number, 49 million people across 46 countries are on the brink of famine. Huge numbers, shocking numbers, to be honest, quite unbelievable numbers. Certainly bigger and more frightening than I’ve seen in over 20 years working in the humanitarian sector. 

Last month I travelled to Ethiopia in the Horn of Africa and spent time in northern Ethiopia, right up near the border of Tigray, visiting an IDP (Internally Displaced Persons) camp filled with thousands of people – families, the elderly, children. These people are facing an impending hunger crisis – many are already receiving well less than the required calories per day or surviving purely on wheat alone. People living in these camps have no money, no opportunity to grow produce and there is little prospect of returning to their homes anytime soon.

This is just one camp with 21,000 people, but the scarcity of food and water is common across the Horn of Africa. With the staff of our partner, Caritas Ethiopia, we witnessed firsthand the life-giving work that they are doing in these IDP camps.

Then we travelled to the southern part of Ethiopia and spent time visiting settlements that are in desperate need of help. They are 18km off the road, the signs for other NGOs have long since disappeared in this part of Ethiopia – it is simply too far and too hard to work here.

And yet out of the trees come nearly 100 people – heads of the households. The men on one side and women on the other, they have been waiting for us to arrive. Waiting to speak their truth. The weight of their truth is evident in their bodies long before they speak. Their crop (provided by a Caritas relief package) has unfortunately mostly failed. The rains have not come for the fifth year in a row, and they are running out of options. They have had to start killing their animals as they have no food to feed them.

'We are now facing a very real, and very serious and far-reaching hunger crisis. We are facing a humanitarian crisis with a potentially catastrophic death toll.'

We listen to their stories and one woman takes me to her hut. She has just returned from the overnight walk to get water. She doesn’t know how long it took but she left as the sun