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introducing the area

food security

 quotes about food security
 key testimonies featuring food security

bags of grain in EthiopiaWith the serious reduction in crop yields, food security has become a major source of anxiety for the people of Wollo: "Famine is hovering over our heads, for the food available is insufficient" (Ethiopia 5). In the past the community was accustomed to dealing with drought every few years and had adequate strategies for conserving food. Now drought and/or crop failure appear to be the norm and it is no longer possible to produce enough food for current needs, let alone to produce a surplus. There is increasing reliance on outside sources for foodstuffs, including tinned food.

Several narrators talk from their own or their parents' experience about the famines of 1964 and 1984/5, and the provision of food aid during the latter. In some places food aid is still being provided; in others people are hoping for government assistance that has not yet come. One narrator suggests his situation has been worse by corrupt practices in the local Peasants Association (PA): "In the old days I had equal share of the produce from my land. Now the PA chairmen have taken it (food aid?) and given it to their relatives. If I go there, they will tell me to get lost" (Ethiopia 2).

One woman (Ethiopia 4) warns: "Now, maybe the government has not heard about the famine, but 1984 is occurring again." Another says some local people have short memories: "Since the people are dying the government must do what is necessary. Last time when we received assistance and then the crops were grown up (ready for harvest), a song was composed:
        How come you forgot 1984 so soon?
        You sold your sorghum and bought gushritt."
Gushritt is like henna - used to decorate the palms of the hands. The song criticises people who sold precious food to buy less important, decorative items, having already forgotten how dire the situation was in 1984. In fact, although things are not as bad as in 1984, Meket Woreda is one of the areas where food insecurity is endemic.

quotes about food security

"Food production? What food production? There is nothing! In the old days, they harvested large amounts of wasera (cereal crop) and we had plenty of food. Nowadays, we sustain our lives with a small tin of dagusa (finger millet) and barley brought from other places. What produce can one find in our locality now?"
Ayichesh, F/28, head of household, Ethiopia 1

"At this time there is very little to feed on both for man and animals... There isn't even gettin (a root) for men to eat, since the sun has destroyed it. Our time has become 'eat and eat each other'. The whole population knows that the country has changed."
Zewde, F/38, housewife, Ethiopia 4

"One day I.told the health officer that I had a stomach ache and asked him to give me an injection. He stared at me intently and then burst into laughter. When I asked him why he was laughing at me, he replied that my sickness was hunger and nothing else. He was telling the truth."
Mekonen, M/72, priest, Ethiopia 16

key testimonies featuring food security

  No.   Name   Sex/Age   Occupation   Location  
Summary Transcript   1   Ayichesh   female/28   head of household   Gala Dejen (highlands)  
Summary Transcript   10   Hamza   male/28   farmer   Gumar  
Summary Transcript   12   Mesele   male/55   farmer   Jirile (midlands)  
Summary Transcript   13   Mesay   male/28   farmer   Meqerretcha/Denkenna (highlands)  
Summary Transcript   14   Itiye   female/58   traditional midwife   Gebeya Meda (highlands)  
Summary Transcript   15   Muliye   male/37   farmer   (midlands)  
Summary Transcript   16   Mekonen   male/72   priest   Ganchire Gebriel  
Summary Transcript   17   Melku   male/67   priest   Guranboba Monastery (highlands)  
Summary Transcript   2   Negussie   female/45   market trader   Filaqit, Woina Dega (midlands)  
Summary Transcript   20   Melese   male/45   farmer   Denkena,Wodih Mado Mar Feriche (highlands)  
Summary Transcript   21   Mario   male/40   farmer   Filaqit town (midlands)  
Summary Transcript   4   Zewde   female/38   housewife   Highlands  
Summary Transcript   5   Berhanu   male/70   farmer   Flaqit (lowlands)  
Summary Transcript   6   Belay   male/18   student priest   Kurrisa (lowlands)  
Summary Transcript   7   Belay   male/41   blacksmith/farmer   Doba Giorgis (highlands)  
Summary Transcript   9   Haji Zekiy   male/57   Qadi (Muslim religious leader)   Tcherqos village (highlands)