Drought triggers fears of humanitarian crisis in Ethiopia, observes Canadian broadcaster

21 Apr

Posted by The Ethiopia Observatory (TEO)
by Ellen Mauro
 

People wait for food aid at a distribution centre in northern Ethiopia. The aid is becoming ever more important as the drought rages on, leaving more than ten million Ethiopians vulnerable to food shortages. (Ellen Mauro (CBC News )

People wait for food aid at a distribution centre in northern Ethiopia. The aid is becoming ever more important as the drought rages on, leaving more than ten million Ethiopians vulnerable to food shortages. (Ellen Mauro (CBC News )

In a world wracked by crises, some dominate global headlines. Others unfold quietly, building in the background until alarm bells are sounded.

The drought currently ravaging large swathes of Ethiopia falls into the latter category.

It’s the worst drought the country has faced in 50 years, leaving Ethiopia teetering on the edge of a humanitarian crisis with more than 10 million people now in need of emergency food aid to survive.

Mothers desperate to feed their children

The search for emergency rations is often most desperate for mothers eager to feed their young children.

This mother, along with hundreds of others, waited in the blistering sun for hours to register for a type of blended food used to fight against malnutrition.

In search of water

The drought has meant that the battle for water has become a part of everyday life across much of Ethiopia.

The scarcity of water now forces shepherds to drive their herds over longer distances to find it—causing further hardship for themselves and their animals.

Zakriyas Ani Ibrahim stands beside a dry riverbed in Ethiopia’s East Hararghe region. He says the river used to be powerful but now all that remains are a few puddles.

He says some children in the area have died due to starvation. ​

A race against time

The drought has triggered a race against time to get more aid to Ethiopia.

Non-governmental organizations say they are worried that emergency supplies could run out if more donations aren’t raised.

Some even warn that the number of people in need of emergency food aid could double to 20 million by June.

Aid agencies and the Ethiopian government have launched an appeal for $1.4 billion USD but so far only about half of that money has been raised.

Canada provided more than $50 million in humanitarian assistance to Ethiopia in 2015.

This woman received her rations at a distribution site run, in part, by the Canadian Foodgrains Bank, a humanitarian organization based in Winnipeg.

The Ethiopian government has established work-for-food programs which are currently supporting approximately 7 million people across the country.

Drought-stricken childhood

It’s estimated that at least half of the ten million people now in need of emergency rations across Ethiopia are children.

The drought has also forced more than one million children to stop going to school so they can do more to help their families cope with the crisis, according to Save The Children.

And it’s a number only set to grow unless the rains comes.

* All photos by CBC’s Ellen Mauro
 

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