The effects of a super El Niño are set to put the world’s humanitarian system under an unprecedented level of strain in 2016 as it already struggles to cope with the fallout from conflicts in Syria, South Sudan, Yemen and elsewhere. In Ethiopia the government estimates that 10.2 million people, on top of the 8 million that will receive support through the governments' safety net programme, will need humanitarian assistance this year at a cost of $1.4 billion, due to a drought that's been exacerbated by El Niño.
We are currently responding to the drought crisis in Ethiopia, led by the government, in three regions: Siti (Somali Region), Afar, and West Arsi (Oromia Region). We have helped around 135,000 people so far.
El Niño is the name given to a periodic heating to the eastern tropical Pacific, which alters weather patterns globally. According to the World Meteorological Organization, the current El Niño is one of the strongest events recorded, which is pushing people already suffering from the effects of climate change deeper into poverty and making them more vulnerable.
Amina Hassen and Shukri Ige try to get water from a well dug by villagers in Harisso, Ethiopia. They have been working for more than three hours to fill their leather bags (Kerid) with water. The holes are getting drier making it more difficult to get water from them. Often water collected this way is not suitable for drinking. Amina is seven months pregnant.
We are providing clean water for the IDP centers. A water tank built in Hariso by Oxfam provides 10,000 cubic meters of clean water per day. Each household receives 30 liters per day.
We are planning to reach 777,000 people there to make sure they have access to clean water, sanitation facilities and emergency food and livelihood support but we are facing a funding gap of $25 million.
Buho Asowe Eye used to have 200 goats and sheep and 10 camels - they were her means of income. She used them for food (milk) and cash (selling goats and sheep). Most of Buho's animals died due to a lack of water and pasture. She now only has one camel and 10 goats and sheep. She says “We live by water, our cattle live by water. Without water we are no more. My greatest fear is [that] the trucks stop bringing water. [If that occurs], what will happen to us?”
Our current activities include: repairing boreholes and water wells, trucking water into IDP camps, building latrines, providing cash for food, animal destocking and meat distribution and animal vaccinations and veterinary care.
Abdi Gire Wais is a farmer who came to the Fadeto IDP centre with his family three months ago. Before the drought he had 15 cattle and 100 sheep and goats. Now he is left with two cattle and 20 sheep and goats. “The soil has no use without water,” he says.
Ethiopia needs international support now. “It's vital the international community commits funding now to stop this food crisis becoming a full-blown disaster.” Jane Cocking, Oxfam's Humanitarian Director.
Photo credit: Abiy Getahun/Oxfam