That five year-old famine-drought across sub-Sahara Africa is getting worse. It is now spreading into formerly unaffected areas in Ethiopia and Kenya and further into the six other victim nations of the Sahel or sub-Sahara (see September 14, 1973, issue, page 42), according to evangelical relief officials.
Last fall’s hopes that a good rainfall might alleviate conditions in the Sahel region were dashed. Only Ethiopia, Senegal, and southern Mali received enough rain to water parched crops and give temporary relief. “For the rest of the area—nothing,” said George Doud, administrative vice-president of the World Relief Commission of the National Association of Evangelicals, who spent several weeks in the stricken areas.
Much of the current concern is centering on Ethiopia. Although widespread famine in the nation’s northern provinces was reported in the Western press last year, only the recent mutiny by the Ethiopian army and navy forced an admission from the government that the situation is critical. Indeed, there are already reports—amid charges and counter-charges of administration corruption by Ethiopian officials—that between 50,000 and 100,000 died of hunger and related diseases in the northern areas alone. The actual number may never be known, said Kerry Lovering of the Sudan Interior Mission (SIM).
The few rains that did come provided a little relief, said Lovering, and “right now there’s a lull, a temporary respite. Nevertheless we anticipate a far worse situation this year than in 1973.” An Ethiopian government survey team indicated the drought is threatening the southern provinces of the nation—a possibility described as calamitous by relief officials. “The south is Ethiopia’s breadbasket. That’s where most of the population ...1