A letter from Rich and Marilyn Hansen in Ethiopia
Here is Addis food is readily available in the souks and on the shelves of grocery stores. But at this moment food is not readily available in southeastern Ethiopia, northern Kenya, and much of Somalia. You may already be aware that many people in these areas are teetering on the edge of famine.
Rain has not come during two consecutive rainy seasons in that area of the world. In an area where life is dependent on rain, this means suffering. The drought this year is predicted to be worse than that in Ethiopia in the mid-1980s; many people still think of shrunken children and emaciated bodies seen during that famine when they think of the country of Ethiopia. Some believe this current drought is the worst in 60 years, a once-in-a-lifetime calamity.
Many factors contribute to this tragedy besides lack of rainfall. People in these areas experience chronic food shortages and are often on the brink of disaster. When rain does fall, because of deforestation, it runs off rather than nourishing the ground. Prices of basic foods have escalated 100 percent or more in the past year. Governments are reluctant to declare emergencies and ask for help because it would be an embarrassing admission that they cannot feed their own people.
No matter what the cause, 4.5 million people in Ethiopia alone are in current need of assistance and that number may be 10–15 million in the entire Horn of Africa. Famine has been declared in part of Somalia, which means technically that at least 4 out of every 10,000 children die daily.* More than half of the land in Ethiopia has been designated in crisis. (The scale of food shortage goes from “famine”—the worst—to “emergency” to “crisis” to “stressed” to “none.”) About 1,000–2,000 people daily are crossing the border of Somalia and arriving in the Ethiopia refugee camps of Dolo Ado along the Somali-Kenya border. Many die along the way, but 78,000 have entered Ethiopia.
A mission worker friend of ours lives in the area known as Borena, which borders Kenya and Somalia. There livestock are dying daily, and livestock are often the only buffer against starvation. Villagers say they will be next.
In the midst of this the psalmist says in Psalm 107:4–9: Some wandered in the desert wastelands, finding no way to a city where they could settle. They were hungry and thirsty, and their lives ebbed away. Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress. He led them by a straight way to a city where they could settle. Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for men, for he satisfied the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things.
We pray that the Lord will deliver those in the Horn of Africa from their distress.
The Rainy Season
While drought is ravaging people’s lives in the Horn of Africa, Addis is in the midst of its usual rainy season. Nearly every day there is rain and there is sunshine. We never go out without an umbrella because the rain is often a deluge. Flowers grow appreciably every week, and so do weeds. But the most novel part of the rainy season is the mud, chikaa in Amharic. It looks like regular mud, but when we step in it, the mud wants to keep our shoes in its gooey grip. As I have often trudged lately after a downpour along a dirt road interspersed with rocks, my one desire has been to arrive with my boots on without falling.
As we focus this month on the sun and the rain, we give thanks to the God of the sun and the rain and all else in His creation. Once again we thank you for your friendship and your support.
- That God will provide all necessary resources to those who are hungry in the Horn of Africa
- That relief agencies will use resources wisely and will be able to reach those in need
- That the rainy season will come this fall to the Horn of Africa so that people can plant and harvest once again
If you would like to give:
Marilyn and Rich Hansen
The 2011 Mission Yearbook for Prayer & Study, p. 57