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, 5.6 million people are facing severe hunger, particularly in the Southern Somali region. 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
Across the Horn of Africa region, we are providing immediate life-saving aid and working on longer term solutions to the drought.
In Ethiopia, our response focuses on the Southern Somali region, since it is both the hardest hit area and the region least covered by other humanitarian agencies.
We are already providing clean and safe water to over 323,000 people as well as 84 schools and hospitals. This covers a quarter of total water needs in the Somali region. In the next three months, we are aiming to reach a total of 700,000 people with clean water, sanitation, and hygiene promotion.
We will work to upgrade and repair boreholes, create water harvesting systems, and also deliver cash transfers for food and emergency survival feed and treatment for 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.
You can help: donate now
Photos: Tina Hillier/Oxfam