Ethiopia faces worst drought in decades

Close to $1B needed to help an estimated 5.6M people following drought in several parts of the country

An estimated 5.6 million people in Ethiopia are in dire need of emergency relief supplies following drought in several parts of the country inhabited mainly by cattle herders, according to an Ethiopian government official.

Meheuba Shifa, 23, and a mother of three, fetches water from an IRC rehabilitated water point in the SNNP region of Ethiopia. Before the water point was rehabilitated, Meheuba walk as far as 6 hours one way to gather enough water at for a single day. The daily 12 hour walk meant she was unable to tend to the rest of her family's needs, causing stress in her home. "It was a miserable time, I even lost my donkey with the containers while looking for hours for water once. It was an especially heavy burden on me as none of my children are old enough to help me. When we had no water, I had to do all of my work at night, in the dark, when I would come home very tired. Now, [because the water point has been rehabilitated] I can finish my business during the day. My family is peaceful, and I am happy." Even after gathering water from as far as 6 hours away, the rationed supply -- 40 liters -- was never enough to support her family of five. In order to save water, she would walk two hours away to wash her family's clothes. Woreda: Sankura. ECHO funded.

Meheuba Shifa, 23, and a mother of three, fetches water from an IRC rehabilitated water point in the SNNP region of Ethiopia. Before the water point was rehabilitated, Meheuba walk as far as 6 hours one way to gather enough water at for a single day / IRC

Molla Mitiku, head of the Disaster Risk Management Commission, told Anadolu Agency over the phone that areas in south Somali, Borena, Guji and Bale in Oromia as well as South Omo zones had been severely affected by lack of rain. Most of the rest of the country has witnessed normal harvests signaling an end to the El Nino-induced drought that took a heavy toll on cattle during the 2015 crop seasons, Mitiku said.

The figure shows a 44 percent drop from last year when 10.2 million people suffered from what experts termed as the worst drought in the country in 50 years.

“We have already begun response to the pastoral communities affected, supplying them with water, fodder and seeds,” Mitiku said.

“We dispatched an international assessment team to the affected areas and the report already came in showing that 5.6 million people are in need of emergency assistance,” he said.

Some $929.9 million are needed to mitigate the situation, he added.

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