East Africa

CARE Learning Tour to Ethiopia by Morgana Wingard

Narrated by Kojo Nnamdi of the Kojo Show

Ethiopia has one of the fastest-growing economies in Africa. Yet, the inability to access food and proper nutrition remains a reality in many communities. Ten percent of the population suffers from chronic food insecurity. 85 percent of Ethiopians are dependent on subsistence agriculture. Its fast-growing population and dependence on subsistence agriculture puts tremendous pressure on the land and natural resources that are the cornerstones for the country's growth.

During a four-day CARE Learning Tour, we visited several U.S.-supported programs that are feeding millions of people throughout the country and helping people to feed themselves. Around the world there are more than 850 million people who do not have enough to eat. Most of them are women and girls.

The United States government is the largest provider of humanitarian assistance in the Horn of Africa, providing over $1.8 billion since 2011. Despite the best of intentions, we learned that American food aid can be slow to reach people in need, inefficient, and not cost effective.  On average, U.S.-grown emergency food aid can take more than two months longer to reach its destination than locally procured food aid.  Local and regional procurement is a lower cost alternative and a more efficient method for virtually all U.S. food aid commodities.

This trip gave us an opportunity to witness how smart, strategic, and coordinated emergency food and nutrition initiatives create long-term food security and boost local economies.  With this experience, we hope to continue to be a voice for the poor and continue the fight with CARE to end global hunger.

Ethiopia: Saving Livelihoods by Morgana Wingard

Ethiopia has one of the fastest-growing economies in Africa. Yet, the inability to access food and proper nutrition remains a reality in many communities. 2.7 Million people in Ethiopia need food assistance. That’s the size of the population of Chicago.

Recently I flew to Ethiopia with the poverty-fighting organization CARE to see first hand how purchasing locally is boosting the local economy and increasing food security in the region.

The United States government is the largest provider of humanitarian assistance in the Horn of Africa, providing over $1.8 billion since 2011. Despite the best of intentions, we learned that American food aid can be slow to reach people in need, inefficient, and not cost effective. On average, U.S.-grown emergency food aid can take more than two months longer to reach its destination than locally procured food aid.  Local and regional procurement is a lower cost alternative and a more efficient method for virtually all U.S. food aid commodities.

The World Food Program's new initiative, Purchase for Progress (P4P) is working with the Ethiopia Commodity Exchange (ECX) to buy produce from local farmers for their food aid programs. In 2012 33,000 smallholder farmers represented by 17 cooperative unions participated in P4P. Since 2010, P4P has purchased nearly 55,000 metric tons of haricot beans and maize for use in all WFP programs in Ethiopia, generating over US $16 million for Ethiopian smallholders as a result.

As a technical experts said in one of our briefing, "Food aid is not about saving lives. It's about saving livelihoods." Purchasing commodities for food aid in Africa is not only saving lives, it's also saving the livelihoods of local farmers and increasing regional food security.

Peaceful Mayhem: Celebrating Epiphany in Ethiopia by Morgana Wingard

Thanks to news media we've become accustomed to images of raging, violent mobs in foreign countries. Just today watching Al Jazeera in my hotel room in Addis, they broadcasted a pack of enraged Muslims in Central African Republic pursuing a Christian man hiding for his life inside a shanty. The final scene ended with your worst nightmare. 

Sadly, the news media rarely depicts the beauty and positive across the world. I'm thankful for friends and family who worry for my safety when I travel, yet I'm oddly trusting (especially for a tiny girl who looks like she's 12). Perhaps I'm naive, but after traveling through nearly 30 countries, I have to admit I run into more people who look out to help me than who look out to get me.  

Yesterday, I lost myself in a sea of religious enthusiasts parading through the streets of Addis. Every year on January 19th, Orthodox Ethiopians celebrate Epiphany -- the day Jesus was baptized in the Jordan. Thousands of participants dress in traditional white frocks and ornate, priestly robes before they walk, dance, and sing in a swarming parade through the streets.

From the outside, this moving mass resembles the all too common crowds that flash across major news networks. On the inside, it was quite the opposite. Ethiopians, usually dubious of cameras, welcome the lens on this day. Instead of being caste out to the banks of the river of bodies, they pulled me into their celebratory circles. It was one of my favorite days of photographing ever -- even after I lost the rest of our crew. Despite the chaos, I felt safe. My gut was right. With much help along the way, my cameras and I made it safely back to the hotel despite getting lost in the crowd. 

Getnet | Ethiopia by Morgana Wingard

Getnet is a political refugee from Ethiopia who moved to Australia, but then decided he wanted to move back to start a labor intensive business in order to benefit people from his mother country. He now grows vegetables and sells milk from his cows to Addis Ababa and surrounding towns and communities. The DCA Diaspora guarantee enabled him to access the financing needed to get this farm off the ground.

Proofs: Amazima by Morgana Wingard

Proofs: Amazima

During a recent trip to Uganda, I met the hardworking cooks of Amazima – Nancy, Joanne, and Josephine. You think it’s hard to cook for your family? Trying cooking for more than 400. These women sweat over massive caldrons of 60 kilos of rice, beans, and chicken every Saturday to feed children from the community. It’s part of a larger program called Amazima Ministries – a U.S. based 501 (c) (3) non-profit. According to the latest UN stats from 2009, there are an estimated 2.7 million orphans in Uganda. Amazima’s founder, Katie Davis, started the organization at merely 19 to feed, educate and encourage these vulnerable children. To learn more, visit http://www.amazima.org/.