Only the birds were awake and chattering when the 4-wheel drive vehicle of Ethiopia's Lutheran World Federation office moved into the cool morning hours.
We were heading south from the plateau of Addis Ababa into the lowlands of the Great Rift Valley, where arable land abruptly becomes rock and scrub, eroded into huge crevices that are death traps for camels and goats.
Only the drought-resistant acacia trees offer a glimmer of green against the harsh landscape. An hour off the main road, the rocky trail turns into a dried-up riverbed.
As our vehicle enters a village, we come upon long lines of people patiently waiting in the searing heat to receive their ration of maize, delivered by truck earlier. This region had seen but one brief rainfall in seven months. A quick look around shows why the United Nations reports that the 14 million Ethiopians are threatened with starvation.
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© 2016 Augsburg Fortress, Publishers