Worries abound about leaner season drought-stricken Ethiopians may confront in coming months

23 Feb

By Keffyalew Gebremedhin – The Ethiopia Observatory (TEO)

The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) Monday, February 22/2016 expressed its worries that poor rains received in January and February in most northern and eastern parts of Ethiopia were insufficient to replenish water sources and rejuvenate pasture in those parched lands. Therefore, drought-affected areas continue to report deepening water and browse shortages.

In East Hararge zone (Oromia region) for example, 31 water trucks (of 35 requested) are providing water to affected communities. Zonal authorities are preparing to request for water trucking support for additional woredas. The humanitarian situation is expected to further deteriorate if the rainfall performance does not improve in the coming week, according to OCHA.

In pastoralist areas, water and pasture shortages have resulted in emaciated livestock, including deaths. In agrarian communities, weakened livestock are unable to till the land in preparation for the next planting season. Farmers usually prepare the land for the next planting season in January and February, which is not the case this time around.

Seasonal prediction systems from the UK Met Office and from the European Center for Medium range Weather Forecasting (ECMWF)1 suggest an increase in the probability of above-average belg/spring rainfall across southern and eastern Ethiopia. However, predictions for the northern parts of the country are more uncertain; both systems have very weak signals.

The FAO Situation Report for February 2016 underlines that food insecurity and malnutrition needs in Ethiopia are alarming, thanks to El Niño, which has become an added livelihood crisis in the world’s poorest country and with its enormous political problems.

At the moment, insufficient access to and availability of food has driven humanitarian needs to near-unprecedented levels. This, the report states, requires simultaneous and immediate scaling up of multisectoral lifesaving and livelihood support along with investment in resilience building efforts in the most affected and at-risk areas.

UNICEF just reported that six million children currently require food assistance, with school absenteeism increasing as children are forced to walk greater distances in search of water.

Afflicted by the politics of neglect and corruption, the drought is likely to cause more damage this time. The corruption is continuing; all that the TPLF regime has done is to give warning devoid of action to those stealing food and money from hungry people, as we heard from propaganda minister Getachew Reda.

While the TPLF regime has secured financing from the World Bank’s International Development Association (IDA) and other aid agencies to tender the purchase of 70,000 tonnes of wheat for the sixth time in less than a year, the complaint from the many distressed parts of the country is that people are not receiving food and water. The last purchase order of 700,000 tonnes of wheat was executed in January 2016, with World Bank money. This, in its wit, Addis Fortune put it as Ethiopia breaking its own what import records.

By all indications, the prognosis is not very encouraging. This is more so especially viewed from the point of view of the repeated absences of the rains and the increasing instability in the country with all the cruelty and manifest killings around by Agazi forces and the underlying repression against which people are protesting.

It means that, as if the on-going heartless state violence against civil society is not enough, going forward Ethiopians must brace up for a leaner season in every sense!

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