Drought and Displacement: how people are surviving in Ethiopia

Habodo outside her shelter with two of her children, Habiiba* (3 ½ months) and Saafi* (6), near Bisle, Siti Zone, Somali region, Ethiopia.
Habodo outside her shelter with two of her children, Habiiba* (3 ½ months) and Saafi* (6), near Bisle, Siti Zone, Somali region, Ethiopia.

A devastating drought is causing the worst food crisis to hit Ethiopia in 30 years, putting millions of people at risk of hunger and disease. The Ethiopian government estimates that 10.2 million people will need humanitarian assistance in 2016. We are helping over 160,000 people in three areas of the country by trucking in water, repairing boreholes and wells, and giving out animal feed. The provision of clean, safe water during a food crisis is vital for drinking, cooking and for hygiene.

Many people like Habodo (pictured above) are living in small community settlements after being forced to leave their land in search of food and water when their livestock died.

Habodo’s story

Habodo lives with five of her seven children in a small wooden shelter, covered in animal skins, in a camp for internally displaced people (IDPs) in the Siti Zone of Ethiopia.

“We have stopped here because there is no water anywhere else. We couldn’t take our house with us. The sun disturbs us. We don’t even have blankets”, she explains, while sitting outside their small shelter.

Their settlement is a 20-minute walk from the host community and the Oxfam water tank. “The water here is great for us because it means we don’t have to travel for hours to collect it. Before the water truck we had to travel a long way to collect water. We would start walking at 6 AM and get home at 12 noon.” 
 
Although the water is helping Habodo and her family survive, the drought is still having a huge impact on their lives. “The hunger is too much, so we have started eating strange things” like “tree roots, but they don’t have any taste and they don’t remove our hunger. We feel paralysed and powerless.” 

Howa sits with her daughter outside their shelter in the Harisso internally displaced persons (IDP) site, Siti Zone, Somali region, Ethiopia.

Howa sits with her daughter outside their shelter in the Harisso internally displaced persons (IDP) site, Siti Zone, Somali region.

80% of the population of Siti Zone depends on livestock farming. Over 500,000 animals have died in the region as a result of the drought, leaving thousands of people without an income.

Howa has lost over 500 livestock in the drought and now lives in an IDP camp with four of her ten children while her husband has gone to Djibouti to look for work. Without money she cannot buy anything in the markets and struggles to live. She explains, “Here in the village there is no work. There is nothing you can do. I fetch water, firewood and collect maize from the World Food Program.” 

Oxfam volunteers help to unload animal grain from a truck in the Siti Zone, Somali region, Ethiopia.

Oxfam volunteers help to unload animal grain from a truck in the Siti Zone, Somali region.

In addition to trucking in water, we are helping people protect their livelihoods by distributing animal feed, supporting pastoralist communities so that they can sell their animals for a decent price and distributing the meat to vulnerable families.

Help us reach more people with lifesaving clean water, food and livestock support

 

*Note children’s names have been changed to protect their identity in line with Oxfam’s Child Protection Policy.

Photos: Abbie Trayler-Smith/Oxfam