More than 6.8 million people affected by the drought in Ethiopia will be in need of urgent humanitarian assistance by mid-March 2022, UNICEF said in a press statement.
Ethiopia’s lowland regions of Afar, Oromia, the Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples’ (SNNPR), and Somali regions have been severely impacted by three consecutive failed rainy seasons, according to the statement
“The regions are facing severe drought which is drying up water wells, killing livestock and crops and pushing hundreds of thousands of children and their families to the brink.”
Gianfranco Rotigliano, UNICEF Ethiopia Representative stressed the devastating impact of the drought. ”Children and their families are struggling to survive due to loss of livelihoods and livestock and it is projected that more than 6.8 million people will be in need of urgent humanitarian assistance by mid-March 2022. We are also witnessing major displacement out of affected areas.”
Children are among the heavily affected by the drought. It is projected that in 2022 an estimated 850,000 children will be severely malnourished across the four regions due to multiple causes namely conflict, drought, and economic downturn.
Children are missing out on their education; Over 155,000 children in the lowlands of Somali and Oromia regions have dropped out of school so they can help fetch water - often traveling long distances - or look after other children while their caregivers try to find water for their families and cattle.
A joint alert issued by key development, humanitarian & climate organizations on Dec 1, 2021, disclosed that The Eastern Horn of Africa will experience lingering long-term rainfall deficits due to the La Niña-like climate. The International Programme for Action on Climate (ICPAC)’s weather assessment anticipated cumulative dry conditions through May 2022.
The most severely impacted regions are the lowland areas of southern and eastern Oromia and Somali regions. UNICEF’s drought response appeal for impacted areas in Ethiopia is USD $31 million in addition to the overall humanitarian appeal of USD $351 million. This specific funding will target more than 2 million vulnerable people in Afar, Oromia, SNNPR, and Somali regions.
Water and Energy Minister, Dr. Habtamu Yetefa, in an interview with Sheger FM, said they are working on providing water through water pumps to mitigate the impact of the shortage of water until the rain comes.
“Other projects are also underway with the help of local and international organizations to create long term climate-resilient solutions to this problem.”