Floods in Afar Leave 144, 000 Homeless, Damages Properties worth 5bln Br

  • UN renews call for on the need to fight Desert Locust Invasion

ADDIS ABEBA – Afar region has announced the unprecedented flood caused by the overflow of Awash River has left 144, 000 homeless and caused the destruction of properties worth over 5 billion Birr.

The number of displaced people has almost tripled from what it was in the middle of the current rainy season.

A total of 240,000 persons have been affected by the flood in the northeastern state of Ethiopia, according to Mohammed Hussein, the Region’s Disaster Prevention Bureau Head.

He told the Ethiopian news agency that the regional state needs 350 million Birr to provide relief aid and rehabilitate the displaced persons.

The overflow of Kesem, Tendaho, and Koka dams on Awash River were the cause of the displacement of more than 144,000 citizens.

Besides, crops on 41,000 hectares of land, and 18,000 hectares readied for planting were damaged by the flood along with 105 schools, 200 rural roads, 6 bridges.

It has also become the cause of 21,000 livestock death.

“Even if the regional and federal governments, as well as different organizations, have been supporting the displaced persons surrounded by water, the assistance provided is still insufficient,” Mohammed said.

The current situation has been exasperated by various other factors including the desert locust invasion.

– Locust threat –

Afar region is now the epicenter of the locust invasion and is experiencing active hopper band formation, according to UN’s Food and Agriculture agency or FAO.

Top government and UN officials, including Minister of Agriculture Oumer Hussein, were in field mission to the region last week to assess the Desert Locust situation and ongoing survey and control operations.

After the visit, they stressed on the need to scale up Desert Locust operations in the Region, indicates FAO’s statement provided to The Monitor.

“What we have been told and what we see on the ground is different. I realize that the problem is very serious. If we do not target the locusts now, I think we will face a bigger challenge in the neighboring regions,” the Minister said.

The Ministry of Agriculture, with the FAO support, is increasing control operations in the Region, to control the hopper bands as well as incoming swarms from Yemen.

Recently, FAO repositioned two leased aircraft and one helicopter to Afar and another helicopter to Somali (Jigjiga) regions, to intensify survey and control operations.

“We discussed with the Desert Locust experts and the community and identified the challenges and gaps in the operations. We will work together with the Ministry of Agriculture to address them,” said Fatouma, FAO’s Representative to Ethiopia.

Apart from locust control operations and other supports, the organization is expected to launch a cash transfer program in the region next month.