CEF Goes to Africa -Thoughts about the 1980s Ethiopian Drought

By Leah Yee, CEF Social Media Coordinator  

As our CEF board members continue to explore the heart of Africa we are pleased to present another message from Susan Dick, CEF Director of Special Projects, about her daily experiences in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia:



After another busy day, we venture out for a walk never to see another white person. There are no tourists here. People are rushing about going about their daily duties. Most give us no notice except the small children selling gum which is all too familiar to us in many other countries. Later that evening when we arrived back in our clean comfortable hotel just before the skies open up to torrential downpour! It is still raining this morning and I think of all of the people in corrugated metal homes and wonder how they stay dry. As we drank beer and sipped wine, talked about life, relationships and politics and then the conversation turned to the day.

For those of you that are old enough to remember, the image of Ethiopia burned into our memories is that of half naked children with distended bellies. I awoke at 4 am this morning wanting to learn more about that drought. The drought between 1983 and 1985 resulted in 400,000 deaths but half of this was due to the civil war and government policies. Yesterday we learned that Ethiopia is divided into the highlands and lowlands. The food production in the country comes from the highlands where they are excellent farmers and we're told they yield 20% higher wheat crops per acre than the farmers in Saskatchewan, Canada! The drought caused people from the highlands to move to the lowlands and the images I had of Ethiopia were nowhere to be found today in Addis Ababa. Over lunch we were told that 2 issues during the drought were food storage and transportation. The large grain reserves were pointed out to us today as we passed on route from the airport and soon we will see the improvements in their roads however I doubt we will understand from where they have come."


Stay tuned for more news and updates from our CEF board members in Africa!