UN Humanitarian Chief calls for urgent funding for Ethiopia’s drought to avert loss of lives and livelihood
Addis Ababa, 29 January 2017 (Relief Web): United Nations Under-Secretary- General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator (USG/ERC), Mr. Stephen O’Brien has just concluded a three-day visit to Ethiopia to see first-hand the impact of failed rains in the southern parts of the county.
“I have just returned from Warder zone in Ethiopia’s Somali Region, where I saw the immense impact this drought is having on people’s lives and livelihoods. I also witnessed the hard work of the Ethiopian Government and its UN and NGO partners to ensure that water-trucking, animal health and emergency nutrition support are provided to all those in need,” said USG O’Brien.
Below average rains in south and southeastern parts of the country caused by the negative Indian Ocean Dipole have led to a new “lowland” drought. Among the most affected areas are parts of Somali and Afar regions and a number of lowland areas of Oromia and SNNP regions. The new drought has led to severe shortages of water and pasture in the pastoral and agro-pastoral communities. Deteriorating livestock body condition and loss of livestock are also being reported as well as high levels of acute and moderate malnutrition.
“We need to act now before it is too late. This is why I am calling on international partners to join the Ethiopian Government in funding the 2017 Humanitarian Requirements Document, which seeks US$948 million to assist 5.6 million people, whose lives, livelihoods and well-being depend on our support,” said the USG.
Speaking at a High-Level event on the Humanitarian Situation in Ethiopia on Sunday 29 January the Humanitarian Chief commended the Government and Humanitarian partners on the 2016 response to the El Nino drought that left 10.2 million people in need of food assistance.
“On recently reviewing lessons from the drought response the humanitarian community has concluded that the Government and partners helped save countless people’s lives and averted a major humanitarian catastrophe in Ethiopia, all while also supporting one of the largest refugee populations in the world,” said O’Brien. “As effective as the humanitarian response to the El Niño drought has been, Ethiopian farmers and herders in affected areas are still living on the brink, unable to build back their livestock herds, or reinvigorate their small farms, and struggling to sustain themselves and their families.”
“We have no time to lose. Livestock are already dying; pastoralists and farmers are already fleeing their homes in search of water and pasture; children – more often girls – are dropping out of school to support with household chores, and hunger and malnutrition levels will rise soon if assistance does not arrive on time, particularly among women who are more likely to suffer from health problems and malnutrition during droughts,”’ said O’Brien.
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