EE board member Lesley Stephenson arrived in Mohoni a week ago and has sent us a sad report. Although our Mohoni School Project is flourishing, thanks to the water infrastructure on which the school is based, the community in the Raya Azebo region in which Mohoni is situated is facing a perilous situation. The drought under which the region has suffered since last summer has escalated, and the death toll is rising. Lesley has reported this week on the situation as follows:
‘The situation in the rural areas surrounding Mohoni township is desperate. The drought is considered to be the worst in 31 years, i.e. since the famine of 1985 in Mekelle with which Bob Geldorf made his name. The death toll is rising, especially babies and small children, which is just shocking.
I was invited to a meeting with the head of the Raya government yesterday, as Ethiopian Enterprises has been providing emergency nutritional support to over 200 of the worst affected children in the area since January. While nutritional aid is not part of our official manadate of financing only sustainable projects, it would be more than cynical if we were just to stand back and watch the situation deteriorate. I, for one, can’t. We have won the government’s affection and respect for our efforts and are the only organisation working in the Raya-Azebo region to be invited to a personal briefing on the situation. The government described the situation as ‘a matter of survival’.
The situation shows just how important our intervention in Mohoni and Hagereselam over the past five years has been, with sustainable water collection at the core of both projects. Ethiopian Enterprises has established an emergency fund to support young children at risk in the area, and we are monitoring the situation carefully. Lesley will report back to us next week when she has visited some of the worst affected Rayan communities.