Layla is haunted by
what her daughter
Malou, four, has
Malou is just one of millions of children caught up in Ethiopia’s worst drought in a generation.
In desperation her family, like many, many others, have left their home in search of food, water and medical care.
“We had to walk six hours on foot to come here after all our livestock had died and we had no food or milk for the children," says Layla. "This is the longest drought I have ever seen. It has been two years without proper rain.
“So many people from my community also left. There is nothing there for us anymore.”
Little Malou has been treated for malnutrition at one of our health centres. She is gaining weight and getting better. But there are so many others like her who need help.
More than 10 million people – including 5.75 million children – are in urgent need of emergency food aid. This is one of the worst humanitarian crises in the world right now. But the global media has barely noticed.
The Ethiopian government has launched a huge national effort to provide for families, but it needs our help. That’s why we’ve launched an appeal – so we can reach many more children like Malou before it's too late.
The strongest ever recorded El Niño* has triggered failed rains, ruined harvests and destroyed livestock.
For Ethiopia’s children the results have been devastating.
We’re the largest aid agency in Ethiopia and we've worked here for 70 years. Our reach, experience and expertise mean we can and will make a real difference.
Our teams are on the ground, right now, saving lives. We’re rapidly providing food, water, medicine and other crucial support to families in desperate need. We’re treating children with malnutrition and doing whatever we can to save livestock and crops.
We’re helping children continue their education and protecting those left at risk of exploitation and abuse as the drought tears apart families and communities.
We’ve already reached more than 2 million people. With your support we'll keep doing whatever it takes to save children’s lives.
This is Melaku. He is two years old and severely malnourished.
“When he was sick I knew I had to do something,” says his father Arkham. He travelled for four hours to reach a Save the Children-supported government health centre. Now Melaku can get the life-saving treatment he needs.
But many thousands more children will need help as hunger tightens its grip. “I have never encountered such drought,” says Arkham. “I had camels and goats, but most of them have died. The drought is getting worse.”
We need to move fast. We've treated 52,000 children suffering from acute malnutrition this year. If we don't act now, 435,000 more will be suffering from severe malnutrition by the end of the year.
WHAT WE'RE DOING
We’re identifying and treating thousands of malnourished children like Melaku, distributing food packages, and making sure pregnant women get the nutrition they need. All told, our nutrition work has reached 100,000 people.
After the drought wiped out their livestock, Ubah, above, and her family left home to find somewhere, anywhere, with clean water.
They had to walk for three days to reach a water source.
“I came here with my family and child by foot. There was no transportation; it was tough."
As rivers stop flowing and wells dry up, thousands of families like Ubah's are left without drinking water.
The water table has plunged by as much as 10m in places, and children have been forced to make a gruelling six-hour journey on foot, often for a single jerry can of water.
WHAT WE'RE DOING
We’re getting emergency water supplies to the most at-risk families and repairing wells to make sure communities can get a regular supply of clean water.
Close to despair, Fatuma did not know how she would feed her five children when the drought decimated her livestock.
We helped her keep her family's remaining cattle alive and gave her cash to set up a business. Now she’s starting to turn things round.
“I make fast food, like hot chips, and sell it in town. I could not afford to set up this business without the cash-for-work programme that Save the Children set up.
Our support has helped Fatuma avoid the fate of many. Around 80% of Ethiopia's people depend on agriculture to make a living.
As their livestock perish and crops are wiped out, families in their desperation try to sell their surviving cattle at the market. But prices plummet because everyone else is doing the same.
They are left without the money they need to buy food.
WHAT WE'RE DOING
We’ve provided cash-for-work and distributed essential seeds, livestock feed, and tools to thousands of people so they can make a living again.
Khalid fears he may have to leave school. His family are surviving on meager rations and may be forced to leave the area in search of food.
"I hope that the rain will come back and that my life will improve and I can continue school," he says.
As the crisis forces families to leave their homes and farms, children are being torn from all they know and denied the chance of an education – and a better future.
In some areas, a third of children are no longer going to school.
WHAT WE'RE DOING
We’re working to make sure children can continue their education – training teachers and equipping schools with classroom supplies.
We're doing whatever it takes to save children across Ethiopia. But we urgently need your help to reach more.
£25 could give a month’s worth of safe water for 5 children at school.
£50 could provide ten severely malnourished children with a week's supply of nutrient-rich food.
£100 could give a severely malnourished child the vital medical treatment and food they need to survive.
Please donate to our Ethiopia Appeal today.
All names have been changed to protect identities.