CHICAGO -- Members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) contributed $70,000 of the church's International Disaster Response fund to support famine relief efforts in Ethiopia.
"More than 6.8 million people in Ethiopia are facing severe food shortages," said the Rev. Y. Franklin Ishida, director for international communication, ELCA Division for Global Mission. In early 2003, the number of people affected by the famine is expected to rise to about 10 million, he said.
Ethiopia is a country highly dependent on rain-fed agriculture, said Ishida. "This year's partial or total failure of the belg (short rain) in many areas aggravated the food problem. The 'meher' (longer rain) also came late and was erratic, affecting the cycle of crop development and the availability of pasture and water supplies in many areas. Many areas have also not recovered from the drought conditions of 1999 and 2000," he said.
ELCA funds were sent to Action by Churches Together (ACT) for implementation by the Ethiopian Evangelical (Lutheran) Church Mekane Yesus and the Lutheran World Federation (LWF). The Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus and the LWF have been active partners in relief operations in some regions of Ethiopia, said Ishida. Both entities "are seeking to ensure people's access to food and minimize their vulnerability to food insecurity," he said.
"Famine relief will be achieved by providing direct food aid, such as grain and other foods, the distribution of seed and farm tools, and restocking livestock like goats and oxen," said Ishida.
"Goats will be distributed to households who have lost their livestock. Priority will be given to the most vulnerable female-led households. Women will also receive training in animal husbandry and marketing skills," said Ishida.
"Experience indicates that the distribution of goats has helped women become empowered and increased household income. It had also challenged traditions that denied women the right to livestock ownership," he said.
Coordinated by the ELCA Division for Global Mission, International Disaster Response often channels its funds through international church organizations and relief agencies. ACT is a worldwide network of churches and related agencies that meets human need through organized emergency response.
It is based with the World Council of Churches (WCC) and the LWF in Geneva, Switzerland. The LWF is a global communion of 136 Christian churches in the Lutheran tradition in 76 countries representing more than 61.7 million of the 65.4 million Lutherans worldwide.
The WCC represents 400 million Christians in more than 340 churches, denominations and fellowships in 120 countries and territories throughout the world. The ELCA is a member of both organizations.
By Albert H. Lee