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Food security

The testimonies show that the massive drop in availability of milk, butter and other animal products has not in any way been compensated for by crop-growing activities.

Milk production is so poor that Arima says not only do people drink tea now, she has been reduced to giving “tea to my calves and cows; that is why they don’t give milk”. But farming is producing yields too low and erratic to make up the food shortfall. Gurracha says they now suffer “serious food insecurity” and that the longest they go without a food problem is three or four months.

Market forces are particularly cruel in times of drought, when people often have to sell their animals to buy food for their families. This is a clear indication that they are desperate. And as Huqa points out, the price of food goes up but that of animals decreases. According to Arima, grain is three or four times more expensive during drought.

Gurracha says the government hands out “some kilos of grain” but that amount only meets families’ food requirements for about 20 days, or 30 if used very sparingly.


Food security is a key theme of the Desert voices: Ethiopia oral testimony project.


Arima: punishment from God

Chuqulisa: love is lacking

Diramo: tied to our cattle

Duba: solutions to problems

Gurracha: conflict devastated it

Huqa: pleasure from family

Ibrahim: the crazy heat

Iyya: conserving the forest

Loko: farming from necessity

Rufo: goodbye to farmland

Key themes

Introduction to the project




Food security




Social institutions

Government assistance