Skip to content
ELCA Blogs

Lutheran Disaster Response

Situation Report: Horn of Africa Drought

Situation:A map of Africa with Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia highlighted.

The Horn of Africa is in the midst of one of its worst droughts in recent history, severely impacting more than 15 million people across Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia. Water is needed for drinking, cooking and hygiene, so the lack of water has greatly affected people’s wellbeing. Food security is also a concern as the drought is causing families to lose livestock used for food and livelihoods. Extreme droughts, such as this one, will become increasingly more common as changes in climate affect rainfall patterns.

Three women walking and carrying food. Photo from ACT Alliance.


Lutheran Disaster Response is supporting an ACT Alliance appeal to address the humanitarian crisis resulting from the drought in the Horn of Africa. Through this appeal, implementing partners in Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia will provide food aid, cash-based assistance, safe and accessible water, psychosocial support, livelihood improvement strategies and climate-induced disaster risk reduction. To provide access to safe water, partners intend to bring in water to areas, repair existing water infrastructure and educate local communities in WASH (water, sanitation, hygiene) practices.



Be part of the response:

Please pray for people who have been affected by the drought in the Horn of Africa. May God’s healing presence give them peace and hope in their time of need.

Thanks to generous donations, Lutheran Disaster Response is able to respond quickly and effectively to disasters around the globe. Your gifts to Lutheran Disaster Response (Horn of Africa Drought) will be used entirely (100%) to assist those impacted by drought in Africa.

To learn more about the situation and the ELCA’s response:

  • Sign up to receive Lutheran Disaster Response alerts.
  • Check the Lutheran Disaster Response blog.
  • Like Lutheran Disaster Response on Facebook, follow @ELCALDR on Twitter, and follow @ELCA_LDR on Instagram.
  • Download the situation report and share as a PDF.

Re-Post: Can We Talk About Climate Change?

Can We Talk About Climate Change?

By: Hannah Mornement

unspecifiedAfter an intense two weeks of negotiations at the climate change summit in Paris a historic agreement was reached but for the people of Northern Ethiopia it is already too late. They are already experiencing the effects of El Niño, a global climate phenomenon which has already driven up global temperatures and was made worse by climate change. Experts say that 2016 will leave millions hungry and cause water shortages and disease outbreaks.

In addition to their usual struggles Ethiopians many of whom already live in poverty are experiencing the additional effects of global warming. A country whose economy heavily depends on agriculture, with over 80% of its 93 million population small scale farmers and pastoralists, it is now bearing the brunt of this negative impact leading to increased poverty, water scarcity and food insecurity. By January 2016 the United Nations predicted that 15 million people will need food aid. This current drought is set to be the worst in 30 years.

Failed harvest

“This is the worst harvest I have seen” said Woday Gelaye, 75, who has been farming in this area for over 60 years. “Because of the recurrent drought and the heavy, short rainy season even his chickpea crop has been put back.” Extending his hand he shows me just a few small chickpea pulses. This crop too is meager. Having had to sell his ox to buy additional food for his wife, eight children and four grandchildren he no longer has the help needed to plough his other 2 small fields – and nothing left to sell.

After the failure of his crops earlier in the season the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) provided Woday with 31kg of seeds.

His situation sadly is no exception. It is estimated that 73,000 people in this region of Ethiopia have been affected by the failed harvest due to the unpredictable climate, and will need emergency food aid to tide them over before the next harvest in a few monts. There are currently 768 people benefiting from the LWF Emergency Seed Program. Mr Gelaye is one of the lucky beneficiaries.

Just 2 hours down the dusty road from Meket to Lalibela, blending into the thirsty landscape a brother and sister live on a small farm with her 3 year old child. Debre, 21 and Baye, 19, are not part of the LWF Food Security Project and just weeks away from having absolutely nothing left. “The rain started late, we thought we were managing well, but when the crops were at knee level. The heavy rain came and destroyed everything. To survive we started to sell our goats, sheep and cows. My biggest fear now is that if the government doesn’t help soon we will have to leave – migrate to a nearby district or perhaps Sudan.”

Livestock are the life of these arid lowlands, but more and more families have to sell their cattle, leaving them even more vulnerable than before.

New farming techniques

Things have to change if the people are going to survive generation after generation in this region. The LWF, who have been working in Ethiopia for 43 years and in this region for the last 10 years, are doing just that – with their Food Security Project. Budgeted for 3 years it was started at the end of 2014 and is benefiting around 4,670 people, just 2.7 percent of the district’s population. It is comprised of an irrigation scheme, irrigation agronomy and crop production, vegetable production, compost technology, conservation agriculture – introduced by CLWR (Canadian Lutheran World Relief) – water management, seedling production and distribution amongst other agricultural related tasks. All these projects are using tools that are available to the farmers, like manure. A team of LWF experts are teaching them how to get the most out of the land.

Shamble, 46, has already profited within the first year. He has been part of LWF’s Food Security Project in Midaghe for a year and was trained in irrigation agronomy along with crop and vegetable production.

“I was also trained in compost production and given an improved variety of drought resistant teff.” Teff is an important food grain in Ethiopia which is used to make the typical injera bread. “I have also benefited from the cash for work scheme, digging the irrigation trench, and working as a guard overnight. My life and my family’s life has really improved, I have built a new house and been able to buy some sheep and cows.”

Development projects like these are crucial if the future generations are to survive. Climate phenomena like El Niño are not new occurrences, but scientists say that global warming has contributed to making them larger and more damaging. Without projects like LWFs Food Security Program the people of Ethiopia face a bleak future. This is a country that has suffered for decades but is desperately trying to help itself. We cannot afford turn a blind eye. The lives and livelihoods of millions of people are at stake.

Hannah Mornement is the daughter of Adrienne Mornement who worked with LWF in 1985 in the Nekemte region, in Ethiopia. She went back to visit the program after 30 years.

Edited by LWF Communications.

Lutheran Disaster Response has already committed $70,000 to this project. It is our hope that as the need rises, we will be able to continually accompany out partner, Lutheran World Federation in creating food-secure communities.

Be a part of the response:


Please pray for all those affected by this crisis. Remember those who have lost everything and all those who are working to respond. You can use these prayers and resources in your worship services.


Your gifts are needed now to help with immediate relief to assist those directly impacted by the droughts and other climate change related disasters. Gifts to Lutheran Disaster Response will be used to provide immediate, life-saving aid.


  • Sign up to receive Lutheran Disaster Response alerts.
  • Subscribe to the Lutheran Disaster Response blog.
  • Like our Facebook page.

To Learn More:

Visit the Lutheran World Federation’s website.

Read our past blogs

Needs of the Afflicted: Drought in Ethiopia

According to the UNICEF report, almost one million children are in need of treatment for severe acute malnutrition in Eastern and Southern Africa. UNICEF notes that:

  • In Ethiopia, two seasons of failed rains mean that nearly six million children currently require food assistance, with RS3972_2011_Ethiopia_drought-7099school absenteeism increasing as children are forced to walk greater distances in search of water;
  • In Somalia, more than two thirds of those in urgent need of assistance are displaced populations;
  • In Kenya, El Niño related heavy rains and floods are aggravating cholera outbreaks;


  • In Lesotho, one quarter of the population are affected. This aggravates grave circumstances for a country in which 34% of children are orphans, 57% of people live below the poverty line, and almost one in four adults live with HIV/Aids;
  • In Zimbabwe, an estimated 2.8 million people are facing food and nutrition insecurity. The drought situation has resulted in reduced water yields from the few functioning boreholes exacerbating the risk to water-borne diseases, especially diarrhea and cholera;
  • Malawi is facing the worst food crisis in nine years, with 2.8 million people (more than 15% of the population) at risk of hunger; cases of severe acute malnutrition have just jumped by 100% in just two months, from December 2015 to January 2016;
  • In Angola, an estimated 1.4 million people are affected by extreme weather conditions and 800,000 people are facing food insecurity, mainly in the semi-arid southern provinces.

Isaiah 58:10 says,

“If you offer your food to the hungry and satisfy the needs of the afflicted, then your light shall rise in the darkness and your gloom be like the noonday.”

From the air, the border area of Kenya, Somalia and Ethiopia makes a barren and desolate landscape. All plant life, except the most drought-resistant trees and bushes, have dried out and died. Animal carcasses lie beneath them. The region experiences the worst drought in 60 years.Lutheran Disaster Response understands, as part of a community of faith, it is important that we never forget the importance of our presence in the world. How God uses us to feed the hungry and provide for the afflicted.

In addition to the $53,153 committed to Malagasy Lutheran Church in Madagascar, Lutheran Disaster Response has committed $70,000 to accompany Lutheran World Federation in Ethiopia to provide for the immediate hunger needs. The overall goal of the planned emergency response is to contribute to the efforts of saving lives and livelihoods and to mitigate the effects of drought in five districts of Afar, two districts of Oromia, and one district of Amhara region of Ethiopia. Through Cash for Work (CFW) activities LWF plans to reach about 56,866 individuals with about 12,000 of them being children.

Here’s how you can be a part of the response:


Please pray for all those affected by this crisis. Remember those who have lost everything and all those who are working to respond. You can use these prayers and resources in your worship services.


Your gifts are needed now to help with immediate relief to assist those directly impacted by the droughts. Gifts to Lutheran Disaster Response will be used to provide immediate, life-saving aid.


To learn more about this situation and other LDR response:

  • Sign up to receive Lutheran Disaster Response alerts.
  • Subscribe to the Lutheran Disaster Response blog.
  • Like our Facebook page.

Until All Are Fed

“…As we do our part, envisioning a world where disasters don’t threaten lives and all are fed.”

Rev. Dr. Andrea Walker

Nearly 14 million people in southern Africa are facing hunger due to the worsening drought, according to the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP). One of the most affected in the area is Madagascar. WFP has estimated that over 1.9 million Madagascans have been affected by the drought.

Our companion church, the Malagasy Lutheran Church, has reported 6 affected synods, mainly in rural areas located a great distance from urban areas.  They have estimated that about 1300 people have died from lack of food or poisoning from eating plants not suitable for consumption. The Reverend Dr. Andrea Walker, the ELCA’s Global Mission Area Director for the region said, “The drought and flooding in Madagascar continue to threaten the lives and particularly the health and well-being of women and children in the affected areas.”

In our baptismal covenant, we proclaim that we are called “…to serve all people, following the example of Jesus.” Thanks to your generosity, the Lutheran Disaster Response continues to answer the call.

The Lutheran Disaster Response has committed $53,153. These funds will allow us to accompany the Malagasy Lutheran Church as they plan to provide immediate, life-saving support to 3,250 families. The primary focus of the assistance will be given to pregnant women, vulnerable children, disabled and elderly people.


What you can do:

Please pray for all those affected by flooding and drought. Remember those who have lost everything and all those who are working to respond. You can use these prayers and resources in your worship services. 


Gifts to Lutheran Disaster Response will be used to provide immediate, life-saving aid.
To learn more about this situation and other LDR response:

  • Sign up to receive Lutheran Disaster Response alerts.
  • Check the Lutheran Disaster Response blog.
  • Like our Facebook page.

Horn of Africa: Startling Statistics in UN Briefing

I just read an Aug 2nd UN press briefing on the situation in the Horn of Africa that had some pretty striking statistics. It really drove home that though things are bad now, without proper intervention they can get much worse very quickly. Here are a few things that jumped out at me:

  • more than 40,000 Somalis arrived at Dadaab refugee camp in July (highest one-month total in camp’s 20 year history)
  • from April to June, tens of thousands of people had died in Southern Somalia because of joint crisis of drought and increased fighting within the country (almost half were under 5 years old)
  • over 2.3 million accutely malnurished children in the Horn of Africa (over half a million of whom will die if they do not get help in the next few weeks)
  • half of all Somalis have acute malnutrition

Please consider giving through the link below to help stave the tide of this spreading crisis. To get more information please visit the ELCA Disaster Response page on the Horn of Africa Drought. You can also read the whole UN Press Briefing.

Gifts to ELCA International Disaster Response allow the church to respond globally in times of need. Donate now.

Horn of Africa Drought: Hearing Echoes in UN OCHA Press Release

On Monday the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs gave a press release on the situation in the Horn of Africa. Reading it this morning, I was struck by some familiar echoes to the response of the ELCA.

The release notes that though the situation has continued to worsen and stories of tragedy continue to roll in, this tragedy did not take us by surprise. The ELCA, like the UN, had pre-positioned funds and partners on the ground well before this crisis hit the news. I also heard in the release’s description of the UN’s continued work, how the ELCA has continued to respond through our partners and companions as the situation worsens. And how like the release, the ELCA acknowledges more must be and can be done.

What I was really hit by, and what I saw as the main message in the release, is that the situation is not hopeless nor our responses futile. We have the resources to reduce and alleviate much of the suffering in this crisis. But the need is great and the time to act is now. This is at the heart of it the message I hear echoed in the ELCA’s response. We are the church, this is our purpose and we will continue to respond.

To learn more about the ELCA’s response, check out our disaster web page Horn of Africa Drought. The situation report(s) located under the “ELCA Response” give a great overview of the church’s response.

And here is the UN OCHA press release (pdf) if you’d like to read it.

Gifts to ELCA International Disaster Response allow the church to respond globally in times of need. Donate now.