Ethiopia, alongside Kenya and Somalia, is suffering from a catastrophic drought that has led to a humanitarian crisis. Millions of people are facing acute food and water shortages, and are in urgent need of emergency assistance. Your support now will help us save more lives.
On the back of 18 months drought caused by El Niño and higher temperatures linked to climate change, the Horn of Africa region is now going through a further drought, caused by a mixture of influences from La Niña and the Indian Ocean weather pattern (known as the Indian Ocean Dipole).
Successive failures of rainy seasons have been exhausting the coping strategies of already vulnerable communities. Drought has caused crops to fail and cattle to die, while the lack of clean water increases the threat of cholera and other diseases.
The scale of the crisis
In Ethiopia, 8.5 million people are facing severe hunger, particularly in the Southern Somali region. 700,000 are on the verge of starvation. This number is likely to spike in the season ahead as the latest forecasts have predicted below average rains. Water levels have rapidly declined, and the widespread loss of livestock is devastating communities who depend upon them to make a living.
9.2 million people are expected not to have regular access to safe drinking water in 2017, while an estimated 300,000 children will become severely malnourished. An outbreak of Acute Watery Diarrhea (AWD) in the region is rapidly worsening. As of March 27, more than 21,000 cases have already been reported, according to the World Health Organization
Water and food shortages have led to increased displacement among drought-affected people, putting even more pressure on the receiving areas. With over 780,000 refugees as of February 2017, Ethiopia is currently one of the largest refugee-hosting countries in Africa.
Food distribution provided by the Ethiopian government, Korile temporary settlement, Somali region, where pastoral areas are facing acute water and food shortages.
Oxfam’s humanitarian response
We are providing life-saving aid in the most remote locations in seven zones of the Southern Somali region, since it is both the hardest hit area and the region least covered by other humanitarian agencies.
Our response has various integrated water, sanitation and livelihood actions that involve constructions of strategic boreholes, latrines and sanitation and hygiene awareness. So far we have delivered clean water and cash assistance to over 653,000 people as well as treatment and vaccinations for 212,000 livestock.
We must take action now
The humanitarian situation is rapidly deteriorating. With the next rainy season already late in some areas, there are growing concerns that it will get much worse, driving communities deeper in crisis across the region.
We cannot wait for these rains to fail. There is a small window of opportunity to avoid the worst and we must take action now.
We urgently need to increase our humanitarian response to get food and clean water to those who are facing starvation.
Photos: Tina Hillier/Oxfam