Ethiopia food crisis

Buho Asowe Eye. Hariso Internally Displaced People’s Center, Siti region, Ethiopia.
“The water is retreating deeper and deeper. Only Allah knows when it is going to come back. We are afraid it won’t. We live by water, our cattle live by water.” Buho Asowe Eye. Hariso IDP Center, Siti region, Ethiopia.

A devastating drought in Ethiopia is causing the worst food crisis that the country has faced in 30 years. We must act now to protect millions from hunger and disease. With your help we can reach men, women and children in desperate need with life-saving clean water and food.

The worst drought in 30 years

Ethiopia has suffered erratic and failed rains for the past 18 months and the situation has been made worse by this year’s super El Niño.

Water sources are drying up, many crops have failed and more than 500,000 livestock animals have already died. People are walking for two days to get water for their families and animals.  The number of people in need is rising rapidly with men, women and children in urgent need of food and clean, safe water. The Ethiopian government estimates that more than 9 million people will need humanitarian assistance in 2016.

Although the government of Ethiopia is taking a strong lead in responding to this drought, and almost 8 million people will receive help from the government-led safety net, more is urgently needed.

It is vital that the international community acts now to protect lives and to prevent the food crisis becoming a full blown disaster. 

El Niño is a periodic weather pattern that causes temperatures to rise. Although it is not directly caused by climate change, global warming makes it more likely that strong El Niños will develop. In Ethiopia, El Niño is having a particularly powerful effect because more than 80% of the population depends on agriculture. This means that they are extremely vulnerable to drought and changes in weather patterns. 

People gather around an Oxfam provided water tank in Hariso, Ethiopia, which provides 10,000 cubic metres of water a day.
People gather around an Oxfam provided water tank in Hariso, Ethiopia, which provides 10,000 cubic metres of water a day.  

Oxfam’s  response

Oxfam is working with the Government of Ethiopia to help over 600,000 people in three affected areas of the country by providing access to clean water, sanitation, food and other vital support. The provision of clean, safe water during a food crisis is vital for drinking, cooking and for hygiene. We are planning to reach a total of 777,000 people in the following months but more funding is needed.

  • In the Siti zone of the Somali region, we are providing water and distributing animal feed. We have rebuilt boreholes, helped people bury their dead livestock and built latrines for around 22,000 families who are now gathering in makeshift settlements around water points. 
  • In the Afar region, we are working with a local partner organization (AISDA,  or Action for Integrated Sustainable Development Association) to install reservoirs and provide water for approximately 21,000 people, as well as providing vaccinations for the livestock of more than 13,000 people.
  • In West Arsi (Oromia region), we are distributing water and sanitation items and organising public health promotion activities in several locations. We are also working with another local partner (the Community Development Initiative) providing cash grants for more than 7,500 people. 

As well as providing urgent emergency assistance, we will continue to support people throughout the crisis to ensure that they can recover once it has passed.