We are Barefoot Initiative, an Australian non-profit NGO. We work on community initiated development projects in the Afar region of Ethiopia. Over the past 12 years, we have worked with the community at a very grass roots level to help them achieve their goals, including a health clinic, an education scholarship, an agriculture co-operative and a women’s income generating co-operative.
Today, we are concerned that everything the community has worked so hard to achieve is now in jeopardy.
Currently the Afar is suffering from a devastating drought, which the UN is claiming to be the worst in 30 years.
UNICEF have declared that an estimated 350,000 children are in need of treatment for severe acute malnutrition. Up to 8.2 million people (out of a population of 95 million) urgently require relief assistance.
Carolyn Miles, chief executive of Save the Children, US. Has quoted "we only have two emergencies in the world that we have categorized as category one. Syria is one and Ethiopia is the second."
A villager in the north of the country told the BBC, “although this drought has just started, it’s going to get worse… It’s already really severe. Some people have died of hunger, others are sick in their beds – right now it’s just like 1984.” In that year alone, hundreds of thousands of people starved to death.
According to the Department for International Development in the UK, a prolonged drought will mean that more than 18 million people will need urgent relief in the next year. Nick Hurd, UK International Development Minister was quoted as saying: “A relentless drought is pushing millions to the brink in Ethiopia. The scale of the drought is similar to the one that killed half a million people in the 1984 famine.”
Things will continue to get worse until the rains come. Right now, people are suffering, and many have lost a large number of their animals.
The Afar people are nomadic pastoralists who rely upon their animals as a means to trade and provide milk as a primary source of food.
Emergency food, water, animal fodder and drought recovery aid is urgently needed for both the people and the animals that remain.
We are working in close collaboration with our partner, Afar Pastoralist Development Association, who are based on the ground and are delivering aid relief activities throughout the region.
Despite the lack of global media coverage towards this crisis, there are a number of International NGO’s who, together with the Ethiopian government, are delivering aid relief. However, APDA are reporting many areas within the region that are still not being reached and more needs to be done.
The government is talking of 1.2 million Afar people in need of food assistance – almost the entire Afar population. What we are seeing on the ground is that people simply do not have a remaining herd to feed themselves. Afar people are around 93% dependent on goats, camels and cattle – in August 2015 an estimated 560,000 animals died – they had waited 10 – long months for rain and, when the rain came, their emaciated bodies could not withstand the sudden cold. They died of the illnesses already in their weakened bodies. Animal carcasses so littered the land that APDA health workers went out in campaigns to burn them with kerosene. One health worker commented that the organization should train him to deal with shock: a herder stood before him dumbfounded having had 60 goats and woken up to 1 living goat. He said he had no idea how he was going to feed his wife, 6 children and elderly relatives.
Water in so many places is extra-ordinarily low: where people were drinking from the Awash River in the south of the region, the river is so low the water is highly contaminated and causing constant outbreaks of diarrhoea. Malnutrition is rising daily since there is so little availability of food and diseases like diarrhoea and pneumonia are attacking children and child-baring mothers particularly.
A week ago, one mother desperately trying to breast-feed her severely malnourished 10 months baby bravely talked of his improvement from all but death saying she had the mouth sores of vitamin C deficiency that go down into her throat – she finds it very painful to eat the only food she has: wheat ground to flour and made into unleavened bread – she eats a little twice daily.
We ask for your help to support our friends in the Afar through this very difficult time. We are hoping to raise at least $50,000 through this campaign.
100% of all donations will go directly to relief aid and recovery activities on the ground delivered by APDA.
Thank you for taking to listen, act and share this campaign with everyone you know.
The photos in this campaign have been provided by local nurses, on the ground, working in clinics in the Afar. Permission has been given to use the images for this campaign to raise awareness and funding for the current situation.
Barefoot Initiative has Tax
Deductibility Status in Australia so all donations over $2 are tax
deductibile. We will contact you within two weeks requesting any further
information required to issue you a tax deductible receipt.