*** DEBUG END ***

‘Catastrophic’ drought puts Ethiopian girls’ futures at risk, World Vision says

26 January 2018




Ten-year-old Marta looks after her little brother, Abush, while their mother goes out to work. But despite their efforts, Abush is malnourished, as are 500 other children in their community

Ten-year-old Marta looks after her little brother, Abush, while their mother goes out to work. But despite their efforts, Abush is malnourished, as ar...

CHILD-MARRIAGE in Ethiopia is on the rise, fuelled by the ongoing drought, World Vision has warned.

The international aid agency reported this week that food shortages caused by “catastrophic” droughts in the country are encouraging struggling farmers to marry off their daughters — some as young as 13 — to wealthy men, to avoid poverty.

Currently, two in five girls in Ethiopia (40 per cent) are married before the age of 18. One girl in five marries before reaching the age of 15.

Kebede Gizachew, of World Vision Ethiopia, explained: “Culturally, girls are expected to do all the housework, including fetching clean water, cooking food, and taking care of siblings. During critical conditions, such as the current drought, all of the burden falls on girls, and subsequently they are forced into unwanted marriages, abandoning their education in the process.

“Educating children is building the future. When children of school age are out of school, they are not only unproductive but a burden to society. It also means a failed future.”

Nejuma, aged 15, was forced to drop out of school because failed crops meant that her farming family could no longer 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,” she said.

World Vision has been helping farmers to rebuild their capital by setting up irrigation schemes, digging wells, extending water pipelines, and providing drought-resistant seeds. It has also been working with Ethiopian communities, and with local religious and government leaders, to cancel planned child-marriages, and to encourage families to keep girls in school, where there are free meals and supplies. This has helped Nejuma to return and continue her education.

The national director of World Vision Ethiopia, Edward Brown, said: “Children are suffering the consequences of the drought, and food shortages — including dropping out of school, [undertaking] strenuous labour, and pressure put on young girls to marry men with money. We cannot let this happen, and we know how to help prevent it.”

World Vision estimates that as many as seven million people in Ethiopia will need relief assistance this year, at a cost of about £640 million. Last year, the charity provided emergency clean water, food, education, and health and nutrition services to 1.25 million people affected by drought.

Browse Church and Charity jobs on the Church Times jobsite

Forthcoming Events


Church Times Month

March 2024

For the whole of March, Church Times is offering completely FREE online access, so you can share stories without a paywall.

We are also asking our readers to spread the news of the Church Times among their friends, acquaintances, and fellow churchgoers (and non-churchgoers).

Find out more


Keeping faith in Journalism: a Church Times Webinar

11 March 2024 | 6pm GMT

An expert panel discusses trust between the media and the public

Online Tickets available


Church Times/RSCM:

Festival of Faith and Music

26 - 28 April 2024

See the full programme on the festival website. 

Early bird tickets available


Green Church Awards

Closing date: 30 June 2024

Read more details about the awards


Welcome to the Church Times


You are able to read this for FREE as part of Church Times Promotional Month, where for the whole of March, we are offering unlimited web access to the newspaper.

From next month to explore the Church Times website fully, you will need to sign in or subscribe.

Non-subscribers will return to only being able to read four articles for free each month.