ADDIS ABABA – An urgent additional support is required to respond to the severe drought that has depleted the livelihoods of 8 million people in Ethiopia, says a UN humanitarian agency.
The Horn of Africa is experiencing a La Niña-induced driest conditions recorded since 1981 following three consecutive failed rainy seasons since late 2020.
In Ethiopia, “the prolonged drought is compromising fragile livelihoods heavily reliant on livestock and deepening food insecurity and malnutrition,” said the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).
More than 8 million people are affected across southern and south-eastern parts of the country.
Somali and Oromia are the most affected regions with 3.5 million people and 3.4 million people, respectively, experiencing severe drought. The remaining are in SNNP (1.1m) and South West Ethiopia People (200,000) regions.
The drought has weakened the coping capacities of communities that had not fully recovered from earlier droughts, according to OCHA’s ‘Key message’, published on Monday.
“The level of livestock deaths is staggering,” the report reads.
It says at least 1.5 million livestock have so far died for lack of pasture and water while 10 million more livestock, the main source of milk for children, remain at risk.
“Water is at critical levels,” the report says, adding that at least 2.9 million people require water tracking service in Somali and Oromia regions alone.
The situation is not expected to improve rapidly due to the high probability of a fourth consecutive failed rains forecasted for this year as per regional and global weather forecast institutions.
“Even with good rains however, the affected population’s recovery will take time, until which time they will require continuous support,” OCHA’s report claims.
It says the humanitarian partners “have prioritized drought response… and scaled up assistance to meet the increased needs” in support of the Government of Ethiopia.
On Monday, the Ethiopian Humanitarian Fund launched its first reserve allocation of $15mln for 2022, aiming to scale up critical life-saving responses in drought affected areas.
“But given limited resources, the needs surpass ongoing responses,” OCHA says, calling for urgent additional funds to scale up mitigation and response efforts in drought-affected regions of the country.
Humanitarian agencies forecast at least half a billion US dollars is required to support the emergency response until June 2022.
Featured Image Caption: A woman walks with her starving donkey in Kebridahar district of Ethiopia’s Somali region in a photo taken on January 21, 2022. Climate change wreaks havoc on the livelihoods of communities in the region. [Photo UNICEF Ethiopia/Mulugeta Ayene]