WFP warns impending drought-induced humanitarian disaster in Ethiopia

A woman follows drought affected livestock as they walk toward a river near Biyolow Kebele, in the Adadle woreda of the Somali region of Ethiopia Wednesday, Feb. 2, 2022. Drought conditions have left an estimated 13 million people facing severe hunger in the Horn of Africa, according to the United Nations World Food Program. (Michael Tewelde/WFP via AP)
A woman follows drought-affected livestock as they walk toward a river near Biyolow Kebele, in the Adadle woreda of the Somali region of Ethiopia Wednesday, Feb. 2, 2022. (Michael Tewelde/WFP via AP)

The United Nations World Food Program (WFP) on Tuesday called for swift and concerted efforts to prevent a drought-induced humanitarian catastrophe in Ethiopia.

The WFP, in its latest situation update, said early action is needed to prevent a humanitarian disaster in Ethiopia.

“Livestocks are dying, crops are failing, and an estimated 5.7 million people wake up hungry every day in southern and south-eastern Ethiopia as the Horn of Africa grapples with the most severe drought since 1981,” the WFP said.

According to the WFP, in total, some 6.8 million people have been affected by the drought in Ethiopia.

“The shortages of water and pasture are devastating livelihoods, forcing families from their homes across the regions in southern and south-eastern Ethiopia,” the WFP said.

Three consecutive failed rainy seasons have decimated crops and caused “abnormally high” livestock deaths, it said.

It stressed immediate and scaled-up assistance is critical to avoid a major humanitarian crisis in the drought-affected areas of Ethiopia and help communities become more resilient to extreme climate shocks.

It emphasized 130 million U.S. dollars is urgently needed to provide assistance over the next four months, responding to the needs of 3.5 million of the most drought-affected people.

The WFP, which is already on the ground providing families with cash and emergency assistance, stressed that affected communities need scaled-up support now, while the dry season is at its peak.

The WFP has already launched its Drought Response Plan, targeting 3.5 million people with emergency food and nutrition assistance, school feeding programs as well as climate change adaptation and resilience-building activities.

In mid-January 2022, unusual migration of more than 17,000 households with over 1.4 million livestock was reported in Ethiopia’s Somali region alone, as they searched for water and green pasture. Thousands of livestock reportedly died along the way, it was noted.

According to the WFP, food assistance, including specialized nutritious foods, are being delivered in the Somali region, while malnourished children and mothers are treated by nutritionally fortified foods.