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2086 views April 2, 2016 posted by Maja Wallengren

Coffee And The Green Famine in Ethiopia, Over 10 Million People Suffer Drought Emergency

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APR 3, 2016 (SpillingTheBeans)–Ethiopia, the birth place of Coffea Arabica, is suffering the worst drought in over 50 years. Relief agencies say over 10 million people currently are in need of emergency food aid and have called on donations of at least US$100 million to cover the most pressing needs. For those of us in particular who grew up with the television coverage of the great Ethiopia Famine in 1984 and remember the Band Aid concerts held in support for the Ethiopian famine victims the current situation is truly disturbing.

We would like to appeal to Coffee Lovers across the world to help the drought victims in Ethiopia.

SpillingTheBeans has visited Ethiopia regularly since 1997. Just last November we travelled to the Eastern Hararghe coffee regions to write a number of special reports on the extraordinary coffees from the ancient coffee region of Harar which is famous for producing one of the best cups in the world. Just two days before we arrived in Dire Dawa, the town that for centuries served as the center of Ethiopia’s coffee trade, the very first train on the newly built direct railroad from the Port of Djibouti arrived in its inauguration trip here. The first cargo brought a shipment of desperately needed emergency food aid from the United Nations World Food Program, WFP, for some of the victims in the Harar region that is by far among the worst hit in a region which expand through most of the Eastern Oromia coffee region.

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The current drought emergency as by www.fews.net on Mar. 28, 2016

There is no denying that the populations living in the coffee highlands are better off and less effected by the drought than the families living on the vast arid plains in the valley — but I would like to share the story of how THOUSANDS of young coffee children under 5 years of age STARVED to death during a similar drought in 2003 when the coffee crisis of low prices hit southern Ethiopia and severely worsened the effects of a drought. Please read on for more about the “Green Famine” in the Ethiopian coffee regions below the links for emergency donations;
*
If you want to help millions of Ethiopian children, please donate here;
*SaveTheChildren UK
http://www.savethechildren.org.uk/about-us/emergencies/ethiopia-food-crisis-appeal
*Care International http://www.care.org/country/ethiopia
*Christian Aid http://www.christianaid.ie/emergencies/current/ethiopia-drought-appeal/index.aspx
*
In the spring of 2004 we travelled to Ethiopia’s famous Sidamo coffee region to research the socio-economic effects the historic low coffee prices from the 2000-2004 Coffee Crisis had on farmers. What we discovered shocked us to the bone. We still bring this story and case study up to show just how vulnerable coffee communities are across the world’s mostly impoverished conditions that tiny small-holder farmers face on a daily basis.

We were received by John Graham, the then country director of Save The Children U.K. who told us how relief agencies, literally overnight, had realized that a combination of the low coffee prices and drought had caused a massive famine to affect areas in southern Ethiopia that predominantly rely on coffee production for their survival. There had been no warning signs because on the surface all the coffee regions and agricultural land looked healthy, fertile and green. So what happened?

“On the surface these areas are very fertile and since everything is green no one thinks of these regions suffering from famine. But the land size per family has been reduced so much with each generation dividing the land for years that unless every single crop is performing 100 percent, there will be a food shortage and the families won’t be able to generate enough to survive,” said Graham, adding that this phenomenon caused by severe over- population today is defined as “Green Famine” in Ethiopia — at SpillingTheBeans we also refer to this as “Too Many People on Too Little Land” and this is the primary reason for why the majority of the world’s coffee growers live in endemic poverty.

The average coffee grower in Ethiopia’s Sidamo and Harar regions have a maximum of 1 hectare of land of which between 0.25 and 0.5 hectare is used for cultivating coffee. This land unit feeds a family of at least 10 people. As coffee prices had fallen to historical lows at the time, the coffee harvest generated little or now income for the farmers and as a DIRECT consequence a total of 80,000 children under 5 years of age were found to suffer from ACUTE malnutrition and in need of emergency treatment.

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Relief organizations including SaveTheChildren U.K. found a total of 4,000 emergency centers were needed in order to treat all the children suffering starvation. Sufficient funds were raised only to set up 400 centers and a total of 20,000 of the children affected were treated, Graham told SpillingTheBeans.

“So what happened to the rest, the remaining 60,000 children who were not treated,” I asked.

“They all died,” said Graham.

I was SO NOT prepared for this answer. To this date I am still in shock. Somehow it is just so not acceptable, and at the time I asked the question I had some ingrown illusion of humanitarian faith, in common solidarity, that I really did believe Graham would come up with a reply about how, somehow, against all odds, the coffee children of Ethiopia would have been saved by a last minute effort. Reality is another matter and, sadly, a reality that still affects countries like Ethiopia almost every year.

So when Graham now tells international news media that the drought Ethiopia is facing today is EVEN WORSE than the Great Famine the world witnessed in 1984, well, I believe him and I want to help.

Overall development in Ethiopia today is light years ahead of what the situation was in 2003. But the devastating effects that climate change brought about by El Niño such as seen in Ethiopia at the moment is beyond what any government even in the best shape is able to adequately deal with.

SO please, Coffee Lovers, help if you can, every dollar matters to the Ethiopian drought victims.

If you want to help millions of Ethiopian children, please donate here;
*Menschen für Menschen
https://www.menschenfuermenschen.at/en/donation-projects-ethiopia/development-aid-austria-ethiopia/hunger-emergency-aid-donation-ethiopia/
*Action Against Hunger http://www.actionagainsthunger.org/countries/africa/ethiopia
*Spana https://www.spana.org/Appeal/emergency
*United Nations World Food Program https://give.wfp.org

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More about the current drought in Ethiopia; http://www.fews.net/east-africa/ethiopia/

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