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Before COVID-19: Locusts, disease, and floods plague Ethiopia

4 mins read

Ethiopia (MNN) — Before COVID-19 arrived in East Africa, Ethiopians were – and still are – fighting one of the worst desert locust plagues in modern history. Now, severe flooding is decimating any crops that survived the locusts.

One-third of all Ethiopians live in severe poverty, existing on less than two dollars a day. Natural or manmade disasters often hit these communities the hardest. Compassion International cares for impoverished kids, bringing them hope in Jesus’ name.

The ministry’s latest efforts in Ethiopia include a nationwide radio broadcast, Girum Getachew says. “We are collaborating with the government and with [the Council of Evangelical Christians in Ethiopia] and making every day a broadcast,” he explains.

Pandemic restrictions stopped religious gatherings of every kind, so national media outlets began broadcasting services. The evangelical council calls people to repentance, prayer, and fasting in its daily one-hour program. Getachew says a portion of the program, supported by Compassion, offers kid-friendly services, prayer, and worship.

“God has allowed us to [reach these] children and the families, and also the whole Ethiopian Christian community, to transfer our message of peace [and] encourage the children. Children are the most vulnerable parts of society at this [time].”

Ethiopia’s disasters have no end in sight

Food insecurity and drought have caused major problems in Ethiopia for years. Then, a new batch of desert locusts began wreaking havoc in February, Compassion’s Tewodros Gevremeskel says, making their way to East Africa from the Arabian Peninsula. The latest government report reveals “locusts have damaged about 200,000 hectares of cropland and also caused a serious loss of over 356,000 tons,” he states.

desert locust, locusts

Desert locusts usually fly with the wind and can travel more than 150 km in a day.
(Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

According to USAID, some 8.5 million Ethiopians need emergency food assistance. Another half-million to one-million people will need food aid in the coming month due to COVID-19 and locusts.

These double disasters pose a significant threat to millions of Ethiopians.

Believers cannot gather in churches or hold beneficiary programs due to lockdown restrictions. Gevremeskel says they’re finding other ways to care for vulnerable children and families. “Project staff make a phone call to the beneficiaries and encourage them with the Word of God,” he explains, “and they provide food supply.”

Food and sanitation items have been distributed to all families enrolled in Compassion’s program to “help reduce economic challenges parents may face as they stay in their homes,” Getachew describes in an email.

Find your place in the story

ethiopia orphans

Compassion and its church partners stood by Elisabeth and Alemtarik when they had no one else to care for them.
(Photo courtesy of Compassion International)

Along with natural disasters, poverty was a significant problem in Ethiopia when Compassion began working there in 1993.  According to World Bank data, 61-percent of Ethiopians existed on less than two dollars a day in 1999; that number dropped to 30-percent in 2015.

Praise God for this positive development! Pray for Compassion and its church partners as they offer help and hope in Jesus’ name.

Sponsor a child in Ethiopia through Compassion International.

Header image depicts Dr. Addisalem Gebresilassie, a 27-year-old doctor who received help through Compassion sponsorship. Today she’s part of the frontline fight against COVID-19.

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