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Thursday, October 22, 2015

Government and international aid agencies have announced that, due to the global natural hazard El Niño, which is lack of rainfall in both the spring (belg) and summer (meher or kiremt) seasons, the country has been hit by drought and, currently, about 8.2 million people are in need of immediate humanitarian assistance.
According to Mitiku Kassa, secretary of the National Disaster Prevention and Preparedness Committee (NDPPC), the severity of the drought has been exacerbated by the delay and decline of rainfall during the major rainy season of kiremt from mid-June through mid-September. Hence, 8.2 million people are now in need of humanitarian assistance in which the government has disbursed USD 192 million, Mitiku noted. Yet, the total amount needed is over 596 million dollars according to the aid agencies and the government.  
Visiting severely stricken areas of the Oromia and Afar regions, Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn said that it is feared the drought will continue, as the rains may not come until January. Hailemariam assured the affected communities of West Hararge and Amibara areas that the government will continue to help people in need. 
Earlier in the week, Mitiku conferred with the donors to discuss the ways that required resources could be channeled. He briefed UN agencies, aid agencies and diplomatic communities that the humanitarian situation is currently deteriorating faster than anticipated. 
The mid-year review of the humanitarian requirement document issued in August this year and disseminated to concerned parties, pointed out that food assistance, targeted supplementary food, therapeutic nutrition, emergency water interventions, agriculture and livelihoods are urgently needed. Back in August, the total amount of funds pledged for humanitarian assistance was about USD 432 million—with a shortfall of 230 million dollars that the government is unable to receive externally. However, this week, the government came up with an updated figure conducting what is called the "September rapid assessment”, to make the total required funds reach close to half a billion dollars. 
Both Mitiku and donors regret that Ethiopia’s humanitarian crisis has been faced with resource competition elsewhere due to the global circumstances where migration and conflicts have taken center stage. John Aylieff, acting humanitarian coordinator and regional coordinator at World Food Program (WFP), said that the challenge Ethiopia has been faced with is “incredibly serious” and called for collective efforts to prevent effects of drought, which he said will manifest further challenges in the next year. 
Now donors have pledged to help based on results of the 21 field assessments the government undertakes. That said, the Department For International Development (DFID) has pledged to extend 45 million pounds and the Swiss Cooperation has also vowed to extend seven million Swiss francs. Meanwhile, out of the 192 million dollars (four billion birr) the government allocated for the contingency, regions like Oromia have earmarked close to half a billion birr whereas Afar has contributed some 100 million birr, Mitiku noted. 
According to the UN humanitarian country team in Ethiopia, the total number of people in need of humanitarian assistance was about 3.6 million back in August. Day by day, that figure kept mounting and reached 7.4 million in June. As of this week, people in need of food assistance have numbered 8.2 million. The affected areas include, Southern Tigray, Eastern Amhara, Afar, and Siti zone of Somali region, Eastern SNNP, East and West Hararge, Arsi and West Arsi, lower Bale zones of the Oromia regions. Hailemariam confirmed that many drought stricken pastoral communities have encountered severe malnutrition and death of livestock.
Source: The Reporter