CLWR Community Relations Director Tom Brook is reporting from Ethiopia.
One of the questions I am asked so many times as I meet supporters of CLWR is, “Is our money getting there? Is it being used wisely?” Following a visit to the drought-plagued region of Goro in Ethiopia, I am pleased to report that it is being used to make a difference in the lives of people struggling against the loss of crops due to the untimely rains in that region.
Typically, farmers could rely on two rainy seasons, a short one in October-November and a longer one from April to June. These would allow planting of two crops and relative food security. But when you can’t count on the rain at the proper time farming becomes chaotic at best.
CLWR is participating in the distribution of over 3.8 million pounds of food to support 18,000 people as part of its East Africa drought and famine relief efforts. The food rations consist of wheat, beans, oil and a food supplement called Famix which is reserved for children and pregnant women.
The first coping mechanism in these times of food shortage is for farmers to begin selling resources – mainly livestock. This food aid makes it more feasible to keep their resources intact.
I was pleased to visit one of the three warehouses in the region where there were thousands of bags of Canadian wheat and the other rations food being carefully stored and guarded. While I was there, a new shipment of wheat and oil had just arrived.
You have helped supply more than 10,000 agricultural tools. I met two young men on the road carrying their new tools. They were walking to a work-for-food site at Ro’o Nagya where I witnessed thirty or more people digging trenches in the hillside to prevent rain runoff from flooding the fields in the valley.
Those who are able spend two days a week participating in work-for-food projects such as brushwood check dams; cut-off drains; vegetative fencing and stabilization; and rural road maintenance.
Not only is this aid making a difference but it comes at a very low cost. Of a budget of $1.3 million, only $60,000 is being spent on administration – less than 5%!
You are making a difference in the lives of people who are reaching out for hope today. These are resourceful and hard-working people. How else can you explain being able to support a family on an average farm of only 1.3 – 1.5 acres in size and even having some produce leftover to take to market! Your gift of food aid in a troubling time provides that hope.
– Tom Brook