Compassion Int'l Responds to Ethiopia Aid Appeal with $1.4M

Child advocacy agency Compassion International is sending $1.4 million to Ethiopia in response to the nation's ongoing famine and the government's recent appeal for emergency aid.

Last week, Ethiopia's state minister for agriculture and rural development, Mitiku Kassa, made an urgent appeal to donors for more than $121 million, saying that the number of people needing emergency assistance had increased to 6.2 million.

Months earlier, the official said 4.9 million of Ethiopia's 85 million people needed emergency food aid.

"Since ... January, the country continues to face several humanitarian challenges in food and livelihood security, health, nutrition, and in water and sanitation," Kassa told donors last Thursday, according to Agence-France Presse.

The state minister also reported that nearly 80,000 children under five were suffering from acute malnutrition and that nine million dollars was needed for moderately malnourished children and women.

Though Ethiopia has long struggled with cyclical droughts, Kassa said this year's rains were especially poor – a critical problem for a country where roughly 80 percent of people rely on farming. And with high food prices exacerbating the situation, relief groups such as Compassion International, World Vision, and Oxfam have been calling the international community to address and tackle the underlying causes that continue to make people vulnerable to disaster year-after-year.

"Donors need to shift their approach, and help to give communities the tools to tackle disasters before they strike," said Penny Lawrence, international director for Oxfam. "Drought does not need to mean hunger and destitution. If communities have irrigation for crops, grain stores, and wells to harvest rains then they can survive despite what the elements throw at them."

Mark Hanlon, senior vice president of Compassion International, USA, shared Lawrence's sentiments and revealed how his agency has been working in accordance to them.

"In these communities that are continuously dealing with food source issues, we are helping individuals to withstand and perhaps even avoid food crises in the long term – not just by helping them in the short term but also by supporting small business enterprises," he reported.

Compassion, which has been working in Ethiopia since 1993, has been sending funds to the people of Ethiopia since March to address the acute issues of food source insecurity and plans to continue doing so. While the money will be used for direct food relief and medical supplies, a portion of the funds will also be used to help develop small businesses in the Ethiopian communities hardest hit by the food crisis.

Today, Compassion International serves 77,544 children at 321 child development centers in Ethiopia.

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