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The current drought has affected more than 10

Drought crisis under government control.

Gemeda Tussa 12-25-15

Members of the social sector standing committee within the House of People’s Representatives have visited some of drought affected areas in Amhara, Tigray, Oromia, SNNP, Somali and Diredawa.  They had consulted with people and learnt what is going on in those areas and how the government of Ethiopia has been handling the current problem. Having recognized the consolidated efforts in helping the people affected by the drought, the standing committee urged the government to strengthen that effort it has exerted so as to save the lives of its people.

The standing committee also commended the collaborated efforts of the government and international aid organizations in offering what the drought victims are in need.  The government of Ethiopia has attentively watching the day today activities in drought affected areas and taking punitive measures so as not to leave  unfilled space   in the system of assisting the people.

It is vivid that the current drought has affected more than 10.2 million people in various regions of the country mainly in Oromiya, Amhare, Tigray, Somale, Benshangul Gumuz, Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples State. Regional States, the Federal Government and some international donors come together and working to ease the problem in those areas through providing all the necessary food and non-food items so that the people could withstand the food shortage disaster.

According to some available evidence, the development and environment rehabilitation that have done in the past twenty four years have significantly helping to ease some of the effects of this crisis. The country has registered double digit economic growth in the past decade due to the consolidated effort exerted to mitigate poverty and ensure sustainable economic development.  The overall achievements particularly in the first Growth and Transformation plan have maximized the country’s food self-sufficiency.

When the food crisis happened in Ethiopia, the government of Ethiopia declared its occurrence and issued an appeal for the international emergency relief in line with offering the necessary assistance to the people who have affected by the drought.

The Ethiopian government is not only developmental but also adheres to bringing situations to the open and collaborates with parts that could help in solving them with full participation of the Ethiopian people and also other partners of the country.

The recurring drought once in every ten years caused the death of a great number of people. If we take the 1983-1985 drought evidences show that nearly one million Ethiopians have lost their lives. However, the current drought which was caused by climate change that has significantly affected the entire world left more than ten million people dependent for their daily bread for existence.

In fact, the efforts to enhance irrigation system and environmental rehabilitation have their own contributions in addition to the overall economic development of the country aiming to guarantee the fragility of the Ethiopian agriculture system, which relies on rain-fed crops in two distinct growing seasons which have vulnerable the impacts of climate change.

In some of the drought affected areas the country’s irrigation activities has also contributed to ease impact of the current drought. The irrigation system though started some twenty four years ago was not seriously practiced. It was before a decade that the Ethiopian government began to conflict the farmers to use irrigable lands so that they could increase their productivity. As a result, remarkable results were registered that the Ethiopian. Although the irrigation system has been undertaking in all parts of the country, it is possible to consider the Raya Alamata irrigation works as an example.

 

According to documents from Agricultural  and Natural Resource Office in Tigray Regional State, about  5,100 hectares of land is under development using irrigation in the Raya Alamata District so that it could contribute to fill  food crop production gaps due to El-Nino effects, which is expected to make some 32 thousand residents beneficiary from the total population totaled to 106 thousand among  them about 700 thousand people have already affected by the drought who have been getting food assistance from the government.

The major causes of the problem in these area and other areas in any corner of the country affected by the drought is caused by the climate changes the short rains have become delayed and shorter, and the long rains equally have become unpredictable.

Environment conservation particularly water conservation has also enabled communities to withstand the drought better in all of the drought affected areas. The government of Ethiopia has been engaging in an integrated watershed resource management for the past decade that it helped to ease the problem in some of the areas.

One of the government’s focuses is school children. It is devoted to supply students with food and other necessary educational materials who are residing in the drought affected areas. If we take the Amhara Regional State, for instance, it has allocated more than 22 million EB until the coming June to commence the school feeding programs in about 48 schools situated in drought affected areas of the region. There are about 408 secondary and 8200 primary schools in Amhara Regional State of which nearly 1200 schools are situated in drought affected areas.

The Tigray Regional State has also doing the same thing. According to information from the Tigray regional state education bureau, about 294 thousand out of total 1.2 million students in about 2200 schools need assistance to continue their education and the Region is making efforts to help students in 23 woredas of the region.

In this regard, international organizations like World Food Program have been cooperating with Regional States. This organization has covered about 75 percent of the aid share; whereas, the regional government has covered the remaining 25 per cent and the federal government is expected to deliver exercise books, pencils and bags to the region.

 

It is vivid that such drought usually coupled with various diseases cause either by food shortage, sanitation or water and air born. Disease that already existed before could spread widely and become difficult to manage. The government has also aware of this fact and has been working in protecting the people from such diseases. We can take the Amhara regional State as an example that has been preventing safeguarding citizens from any possible health related hazards that can arise as a result of an ongoing drought related health problems.

 

In cooperation with the ministry of health, the Amhara health bureau has distributed pills and body lotion to those affected. It has also provided vaccination for polio, meningitis and measles reaching almost 90 percent of those in need.

 

According to Amhara Health Bureau, region has distributed over 7 million anti-malaria nets to malaria prone area of the region so as to prevent the possible outbreak of malaria having allocated some 32 million birr additional emergency budget to fight the health challenges related to the drought. This is simply an example. The government has been doing its best level to avoid health problems caused and aggravated by the drought.

 

There are also efforts to maintain the life of both domestic and wildlife animals. In all regions, there are efforts of offering the farmers with animal feed and water. In some drought affected areas where there are other nearby places, the animals are taken to nearby areas which hasn’t been affected by the drought.

 

The Ethiopian Agricultural Research Institute (EARI) underlined on the need to consider different options in order to provide fodder for animals. There efforts to relocate domestic animals to better places. There is a short time plan to develop specialized animal fodder farm at 900 hectares of land in both Afar and Somali Regional States.

 

The migration of pastoralists to the park compounds in search of food and water for their animals has created considerable pressure on the parks and animals living in them. Therefore, the government of Ethiopia has been doing its level best in undertaking the tasks to protect animals in the National Parks through the provision of food and water. This is particularly done in the outskirts of Awash, Abiyata and Shala lakes. According to Ethiopian Wildlife Authority there is no death of wildlife in those parks so far.

The Government urged donor partners to ensure a healthy food pipeline for the coming months to address the expected further increase in relief food beneficiary. The impact of the failed spring belg rains was compounded by the arrival of the El Niño weather conditions that weakened summer kiremt rains that feed more than 80 per cent of the population.

Following the governments quest for cooperation, various countries have pledged and began delivering their aid to the Ethiopian people affected by the drought.

One of these donors is the United States of America. It has donated about 88 million USD humanitarian assistance to be a for International Development (USAID) very long time. Following the disclosing of the number of people affected by the Ethiopian government some countries and international organizations have pledged their support. In connection to that promise the governments of United States of America, United Kingdom and Canada have already participating in assisting those people affected by the drought.

The government of Ethiopia has already disclosed that by early 2016, an estimates number of about 10.2 million people will need food assistance. This is in addition to 7.9 million chronically food insecure covered by its Productive Safety Net Program (PSNP), which is supported by USAID and the donor community.

According to the information released by the Ethiopian government approximately 5.8 million people will need clean water, 1.7 million children and lactating mothers will require nutritious food supplements, and as many as 435,000 children will require treatment for severe acute malnutrition in 2016.

The United States commends the Government of Ethiopia for its early and appropriate response to the crisis, including providing $297 million in relief resources. In addition to mobilizing resources to help the Government of Ethiopia to provide emergency relief in response to the current situation, the United States and its partners will continue to work with Ethiopians to build long-term resilience and food security.  USAID is supporting 3.9 million Ethiopians with emergency food assistance through non-governmental organizations and the World Food Program. 

The Canadian government has also contributed $30 million emergency humanitarian assistance to millions of people in drought-stricken areas.  Canada’s funding for Ethiopia will help meet critical food, health and nutrition, and water and sanitation needs in response to the situation in the country, the document said. According to sources from DfID, the United Kingdom has also given a total of £113m for the crisis so far.

It is known that the largest effect of the El Niño in Ethiopia will be felt in January and February. These organizations are working with the government to make sure they have the tools and the capacity to treat severe and moderate malnutrition cases in children, pregnant and lactating women.

The government of Ethiopia has been attempting to distribute water in areas where there is shortage as it is one of the biggest issues for recurring malnutrition alongside with its work on nutrition care it is ensuring access to safe drinking water.

However, it is the internal capacity that helps the Ethiopian people and guaranteed them for food self-sufficient. It is known that Ethiopia is one of Africa’s fastest-growing economies, with nearly double-digit growth every year for the past ten years.  But the failed rains have had affected the livelihoods of more than ten million people in the country which coerced the country to supply food to those affected people.

As a result, the country has allocated £200m for the crisis, mainly to pay for cereal imports. The annual budget is £7.4bn, with 17% coming from foreign loans and grants. In this regard, the government of Ethiopia has been exerting consolidated effort to maintain zero level death risks due to shortage of food in those areas affected by the current drought.

The past consolidated efforts helped the country to shoulder this current food shortage. That is why Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn underlined the proper importance of Ethiopia attachment and attention towards the aim of achieving sustainable growth through poverty reduction.

All the development projects accomplished in the past twenty four years have significant roles in easing the current crisis. The overall development in those past days plus the cooperation of donor countries and international organizations have control the drought death risks to zero and maintained it.


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