WFP provides nutritious food to Ethiopian families fleeing violence

It’s been a difficult few months for 25-year-old Etenesh. In May this year she and her two daughters had to flee their home in the Oromia Region of Ethiopia, when their small farmstead was set on fire during civil unrest. The walk from their village to the neighbouring Gedeo zone only took a few hours, but fear and grief made it seem endless.

Overnight, Etenesh lost not just her home and possessions — she was also forcibly separated from her husband, who is from the Oromo ethnic group while she is a Gedeo.‘There isn’t always enough food to go around.’

“The ethnic difference didn’t matter to us or our families when we got married,” she explains. “We built a home together — a family — but now my children and I aren’t welcome there.”

Since April 2018, civil unrest in and around West Guji and Gedeo zones have displaced over 1 million people. These people have been forced to leave their homes and are now living in various internally displaced people (IDP) sites and host communities in the two zones, with limited access to food, clean water, shelter, social services and other necessities.

Etenesh and her daughters, aged two and nine years, are currently living in a local school along with hundreds of other internally displaced people. The stress and less-than-favourable conditions at the makeshift camp have taken their toll on the family.

“My husband used to provide for us,” says Etenesh. “Now we have no money and there isn’t always enough food to go around. My 2-year-old, Bikilitu, has lost so much weight since we came here.”

When examined by Government health workers, Bikilitu was found to be acutely malnourished. She was immediately registered as a recipient for the World Food Programme (WFP)’s Targeted Supplementary Feeding Programme and provided with a 30-day ration of nutritious foods.

‘Seeing that my children are well gives me hope that things will be all right.’

In July, WFP expanded operations in West Guji and Gedeo zones, to provide specilaized nutritious foods for 147,000 acute malnourished pregnant and nursing women, and moderate acute malnourished children (6–59 months). This was thanks to generous financial support from the Government of New Zealand and the UN’s Central Emergency Response Fund.

The nutritious foods being distributed include Supercereal Plus, a soy-based enriched powder that can be cooked like a porridge, and Plumpy’Sup, a ready to eat fortified peanut-based paste.

“Bikilitu likes the taste of the Plumpy’Sup and I like the fact that I don’t have to cook it,” says Etenesh. “Seeing that my children are well gives me hope that things will be all right and one day soon our whole family will be together again.”