Dessie Zuria is one of the most critically food insecure woredas (districts) in Ethiopia. About 90% of the population is dependent on rain-fed agriculture in the area, where drought is a perennial problem. The high altitude (upwards of 2,400m) restricts the crops that can be grown, and farmers have been reduced to growing a single staple – barley.
The majority of the area's craggy, mountainous terrain is not suitable for agriculture, and soil degradation has reduced the productivity of much of the remaining land. Unsurprising, the local population is highly susceptible to water shortages, and the rate of chronic malnutrition – a staggeringly high 54% – is 10% above the national average.