Hunger in Ethiopia 2008

Many children are suffering borderline malnourishment. Photo: Nick Danziger/Oxfam

The failure of seasonal rains and onset of drought led to severe food shortages across large parts of Ethiopia.

  • Approximately 25 million people affected
  • Price of many food items almost doubled in six months
  • Around 100,000 children suffered severe acute malnutrition

Oxfam supported more than 500,000 vulnerable women, men and children by providing water, food, and a means of earning a living.

Oxfam's response

Our public health initiatives included water trucking, excavation and rehabilitation of ponds and hand dug wells, along with the installation of pumps and pipelines to ensure water for human and animal consumption all year round. Water trucking was carried out in areas that were hardest hit by the drought during the driest months of July and August.

We also launched a public health promotional campaign to reduce the risk of water borne disease. Community mobilisers provided information on safe health and hygiene practices including water purification, water storage and excreta disposal through house-to-house visits as well as community gatherings.

Our livelihood work focused on providing cash to the most vulnerable families through mobilising communities to rebuild water and sanitation facilities under a cash-for-work programme. In order to improve their nutritional intake, and increase their access to markets, Oxfam provided food vouchers to families in greatest need.

A humanitarian catastrophe

Crop failure due to severe drought in most parts of the country, along with skyrocketing food prices, pushed millions of people to the brink of starvation and impoverishment. The performance of the seasonal rains was poor in most areas, greatly affecting agricultural production and worsening the food security situation. The Somali, Afar, Oromiya and SNNPR regions were most affected.

In some areas the poor rains affected water and pasture availability, leading to losses of 60-100 per cent of livestock.

Global price hikes, along with poor supply of food items, badly affected the food security situation, with Families skipping meals, buying cheaper but less nutritious food and selling belongings to buy food.

Latest news

Oxfam warns millions more Ethiopians going hungry

October 27, 2008

More than 13.5 million Ethiopians are in need of emergency aid in order to survive as people face severe hunger and destitution from increasing drought and skyrocketing food prices, says international agency Oxfam.

Latest stories

July 26, 2008

Renowned photojournalist Nick Danziger travelled to the Somali region of Ethiopia with Oxfam. His images illustrate how the food crisis is affecting people.

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