Drought puts thousands of girls at risk of early marriage in Ethiopia, warns aid agency

  • Five million children in need of help after failed rains put added stress on rural families
  • World Vision appeals for support to help the most vulnerable cope in coming months

17 Jan 2018, ADDIS ABABA – Alarming levels of food insecurity caused by droughts in Ethiopia are threatening the lives, health and innocence of millions of children according to World Vision.

“Farming and pastoral families have seen harvests fail and precious livestock die,” said Edward Brown, National Director of World Vision Ethiopia. “Children are suffering consequences including dropping out of school, strenuous labor, and even young girls being pressured to marry men with money.  We cannot let this happen, and we know how to help prevent it.”

Failed crops meant 15-year-old Nejuma was forced to drop out of school because her family no longer had income to pay for food, school supplies or clothes.

“I had to support my mother with some house chores because my father went in search of daily labour,” Nejuma says.

“Girls are the most vulnerable during natural disasters, at risk of sexual exploitation, child marriage and gender based violence,” added Brown.

An early warning and analysis on food insecurity released by FEWS-NET indicated that humanitarian assistance needs are expected to continue for 5.5 million in Ethiopia between February and May 2018 – with people in the southern and southeastern regions potentially facing catastrophic levels of food insecurity.  

World Vision, an international humanitarian organization responding to the needs of people affected by the Ethiopia drought crisis, is helping farmers and pastoralists keep their animals alive and crops growing by setting up irrigation schemes, digging wells, extending water pipelines and providing drought-resistant seeds. Drought-affected children are also supported to stay in school through the distribution of school supplies and provision of daily school meals.  With strong support from local religious and government leaders, World Vision has also contributed to the cancelation of thousands of marriages of child brides.

In total, World Vision has assisted 1.25 million people in response to Ethiopia’s hunger crisis throughout 2017, providing emergency clean water, food assistance, education, health and nutrition services. The organization continues to appeal for $12.7 US million to further address the drought in Ethiopia and protect children from crisis.


About World Vision:

World Vision is a Christian humanitarian organization conducting relief, development and advocacy activities in its work with children, families and their communities in nearly 100 countries to help them reach their full potential by tackling the causes of poverty and injustice. World Vision serves all people regardless of religion, race, ethnicity, or gender. It has worked in Ethiopia since the 1970s and was influential in responding to the 1984 famine.

Fast facts:

  • 8.5 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance in Ethiopia
  • 5.4 million children are among the number of Ethiopians in need
  • 3.6 million children, pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers are malnourished
  • 2.2 million farmers require livestock support
  • 1.25 million people received humanitarian assistance from World Vision Ethiopia in 2017

For more information, or to arrange an interview, please contact:

Mark Nonkes
World Vision East Africa – Communication Advisor, Emergencies  mark_nonkes@consultant.wvi.org, tel: +254 735 174 956

Kebede Gizachew
World Vision Ethiopia – Acting Communication and External Engagement Manager – Kebede_GizachewAyalew@wvi.org, tel: +251 911 743 348