Since natural and other disasters hit the poor harder than anyone, when humanitarian crises arise, REST responds quickly to save lives and bring immediate relief to those in need. But our work does not stop here. We help people rebuild their lives, advocate on their behalf, and help them become more prepared and resilient in the face of future risks using strategies and approaches that have been developed locally here in Tigray.
Records show that poverty and disaster risks are disproportionately concentrated in Tigray. Multiple hazards such as drought, environmental degradation, crop and livestock disease and sickness, are increasingly occurring on a regular basis. Climate change is making these conditions worse in terms of rising temperatures, variability in rainfall, and high prevalence of drought and crop failure which lead to severe food shortages. Because of these risks, each year round 40 percent of Tigray’s population turns to external resources for their survival. reventing, mitigating and being better prepared to deal with climate related shocks and stressors underpin REST’s strategy for limiting the risks and impacts of these debilitating factors on communities.
REST supported a range of life-saving and resilience building projects and initiatives for people directly affected by transitory and chronic food insecurity crises in 13 woredas. We used food, cash, weather insurance assistance and innovative approaches to improve nutrition, empower women, build local capacities and enhance preparedness to climate-related shocks.
EMERGENCY FOOD ASSISTANCE
While still recovering from the severe El Nino-induced drought of 2016, some parts of Tigray again returned to drought conditions in 2017 because of the continuing below normal, erratic and unpredictable rains. We responded by:
- Distributing emergency food aid to disaster affected people in 12 weredas. We continue to work through the JEOP (Joint Emergency Operations Program), a consortium of NGOs led by CRS Ethiopia. We used 37 of our own warehouses and distribution centres to deliver the food in the fastest time possible.
- Taking a leading role in the annual Multi-Agency Crop Assessments to determine Tigray’s emergency needs; and in the targeting and verification of REST relief beneficiaries and making sure they are receiving full-family entitlements so that no one goes hungry.
- A key strength of Early Warning Systems is the ability of communities and local governments to predict and manage disasters themselves.
TIGRAY PRODUCTIVE SAFETY NET PROGRAM
REST is a major partner in Ethiopia’s Productive Safety Net Program 4, assisting food insecure and climate vulnerable people in rural areas of Tigray to become more resilient to shocks, and more food, nutrition and livelihood secure in the face of increasingly unpredictable climate patterns. Supported by USAID, meeting our program goals consisted of:
- Helping to reduce vulnerability to shocks and stresses among public works, temporary direct support, permanent direct support, landless youth and transitory food insecure people.;
- Boosting agricultural production, productivity and diversification through sustained access to agricultural water; improved technologies and practices, and stronger institutions.
- Sustainably improving the livelihoods of vulnerable women, men and youth groups by giving them a mix of ‘livelihood transfer packages’ and ‘livelihood support services’ to facilitate their transition to more reliable sources of income, and eventual graduation out of the PSNP.
- Reducing malnutrition among children under five, pregnant and lactating mothers using a combination of food-based training, Social Behavioural Change Communication (SBCC) and capacity building approaches.
RURAL RESILIENCE INITIATIVE
As the majority of Tigrayan farmers are vulnerable to climate related shocks – made more frequent and intense by climate change – their ability to secure enough nutritious food throughout the year is constantly under threat. In 2009, REST in partnership with Oxfam America launched comprehensive risk management packages to help farmers offset the effects of climate related disasters such as drought and create successful long-term futures.