Famines Update

As drought stokes urban hunger, Ethiopia dishes up free school meals

Blog note. Jesus indicated that ‘fearful sights’ (various natural disasters) would occur leading up to the time known as the Tribulation and Great Tribulation (a combined seven year period of great destruction on earth). Although these types of things have occurred in the past for centuries and thousands of years, they could be identified as the ‘season of the times’ due to the ferociousness of these events. They would be occurring in greater intensity, severity, frequency, size, duration, scope … just like the pains that a woman experiences in labor the farther along she is in the labor process. We are in the ‘season of the times’ that comes just before the seven (7) year Tribulation/Great Tribulation period
… And great earthquakes shall be in diverse places, and famines, and pestilences; and fearful sights and great signs shall there be from heaven. (Luke 21:11).
… And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring; (Luke 21:25)
… Men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken; (Luke 21:26)
… This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. (2 Timothy 3:1)
Jesus is giving a series of prophecies about what to look for as the age of grace comes to a close. These verses are several of many such prophecies from throughout the Bible. 2017 was the worst year in recorded history for the intensity, frequency, severity, duration and occurrence of a large number of severe natural disasters worldwide. Earthquakes, volcanoes, hurricanes, typhoons, cyclones, torrential flooding, unprecedented wildfires in unusual places, devastating droughts, excessive/scorching heat setting records everywhere, record snowfalls in Europe and Russia. Snow in the Arabia. This list can go on. Most studied Eschatologists believe these ‘fearful sights’ and massive natural disasters are all part of the ‘CONVERGENCE’ of signs that this Biblical and prophetic age is closing. Most people who study prophecy are familiar with the routine reference(s) made that these things will be like a woman having labor pains, growing in intensity, frequency, size and duration.

As drought stokes urban hunger, Ethiopia dishes up free school meals

By Dagim Terefe, Thomson Reuters Foundation. July 8, 2019

ADDIS ABABA, July 8 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Endale Terefe remembers a time when he used to go to school so hungry he had trouble staying awake during lessons.

The 14-year-old student in Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa, was living with his aunt after his parents died.

“My aunt has no money to buy food,” he said. “So I was obliged to come to school with no lunch box and felt sleepy in class.”

Then, three years ago, he and other students in the city started getting two free school meals a day through local charities.

“I am now attending the class attentively,” Terefe said with a smile.

As drought in parts of Ethiopia makes food less available and more expensive nationwide, millions of students, including in cities, are going to school hungry – if they go at all.

But while the federal government provides rural schools with free food in times of drought, the task of feeding students in the capital has typically been left to charities.

That changed in January when the Addis Ababa government launched its own “school feeding programme” for tens of thousands of children, aiming to combat rising urban hunger as climate change is predicted to intensify dry spells.

Lower crop yields on farms across Ethiopia have resulted in declining food supplies to cities, said Esubalew Abate, assistant professor of food and nutrition security at Addis Ababa University.

The consequences include soaring food prices and double-digit inflation, which put a massive financial strain on city dwellers already struggling with a lack of housing and high poverty rates, he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

The impact of drought in rural areas of Ethiopia has been evident in Addis Ababa over the last four years, Abate said.

“Whenever there is drought, it is very clear that the food price increases (in the city),” he added.


Belaynesh Ferede, 45, a mother of two who lives in Addis Ababa, said the prices of many staples had jumped dramatically in just the last four years.

For example, the price of a kilogramme of teff – Ethiopia’s staple grain – rose from 20 birr to 30 birr ($0.70 to $1), while a kilo of potatoes doubled from 10 birr to 20 birr.

“Living has become expensive in the city,” she said.

And for many children in Addis Ababa, where 80% of people live in slums, according to the charity Habitat for Humanity, those high food prices mean going to school on an empty stomach.

The indirect effect of climate extremes on education became clear in 2015-2016, when El Nino – a warming of sea-surface temperatures in the Pacific – hit an already drought-stressed Ethiopia, tipping it into the worst drought in 50 years.

Relief agencies reported that students were falling asleep or feeling sick in class, attendance rates fell and dropout rates spiked, as children were either too hungry to go to school or had to stay home to help their families look for food.

To keep children in class in the wake of El Nino, the Ethiopian government launched a $50-million emergency programme in drought-hit rural areas, which gave about 6 million students free school meals over three years.

The U.N. World Food Programme observed that the programme stabilised school attendance rates, with fewer dropping out.

“Even students who had dropped out a long time ago returned to school,” it said in a report.

The Addis Ababa government hoped to see the same positive results among the city’s school children with this year’s feeding initiative.

It has allocated 169 million birr for free meals in all the city’s primary schools, covering more than 50,000 children.

“Education for all is a global motto and access to education is a matter of right, so the city government has a responsibility to feed students,” said Meti Tamrat, the programme’s coordinator at the Addis Ababa Education Bureau.

The city programme complements school-meal projects run by local charities that continue to provide meals for about 80,000 students.

But not all needy students have yet been covered, Tamrat noted, adding it was still too early to measure the impact of the city government’s initiative.

Research by the Ye Enat Weg Charitable Association, which has provided free school meals since 2014, showed that by 2018, the dropout rate in Addis Ababa’s schools had fallen by 75% and students’ academic scores had improved by 14% since 2006.


As Addis Ababa works to stop rural droughts hurting education in the city, the federal government is looking to launch another feeding programme that will support children all over the country.

According to the ministry of education’s emergency school meal plan for 2019, more than 1 million children in drought-affected areas are still coming to school hungry.

Meanwhile, the Famine Early Warning Systems Network has warned that the majority of households in five regions of Ethiopia face a crisis-level food shortage through September 2019 due to a combination of drought and conflict.

Instead of offering free school meals only in emergency situations, the federal government wants to implement an ongoing programme in all primary schools, said Bereket Takele, advisor for the programme at the Ministry of Education.

Mitigating the impact of drought on the education sector has now become a priority for Ethiopia, he added.

“The government has learned a huge lesson about how drought can affect students,” Takele said. “There is a saying: ‘Challenge is an opportunity’.

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