Monday, May 09, 2005

Food, Not Votes, Concern Ethiopia's Hungry

Ethiopia's elections are the furthest thing from Bisharo Sultan's mind.

As politicians wrangle over privatisation, land reform and the constitution hundreds of kilometres away in the capital Addis Ababa before polls on Sunday, Bisharo wonders how she will feed her four children.

A herder who wandered the plains in search of watering holes in Ethiopia's eastern Somali region, Bisharo lost 200 camels, cows and sheep to the country's chronic cycle of droughts.

A flash flood last month wrecked her makeshift house in the Hartishiek camp where 6,000 people live without running water, hospitals, or schools and where there is scant help on offer.

"It's as if we're the forgotten people," she said, suckling her one-year-old son -- his swollen head a tell-tale sign of malnutrition. "I expect the government to solve my problems but I don't know the government. I haven't seen them."

Photo courtesy: A malnourished Ethiopian child sits with his mother at the UNICEF-supported therapeutic feeding centre at Hiwot Fana hospital in Harar. REUTERS/Andrew Heavens

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