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Monday, November 16, 2015

The United Nations Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) has released $17m to help those affected by the worst drought to hit Ethiopia in decades.


Ethiopian girls
Ethiopian girls. Credit:Shutterstock
After failed rains in the spring, the climate phenomenon El Niño has further exacerbated the crisis in the country increasing food and water shortages and driving malnutrition up.
Around 2.9 million people in Ethiopia were in need of emergency food aid at the start of this year. By August this had almost doubled to 4.5 million and by October had almost doubled again to 8.2 million.
Stephen O’Brien, UN undersecretary general for humanitarian affairs and emergency relief co-ordinator, said: “A timely response to the emergency is critical. If we don’t act today, we face an even graver situation tomorrow, with more immense needs in 2016.
“CERF funds will immediately provide crucial food supplies for people affected by the drought now, when they need it most.”
The emergency funding will be released to the World Food Programme so it can support some 1.37 million Ethiopians with food and provide specialised nutritional supplements to 164,000 malnourished women and children.
Dina Esposito, director of USAID’s office of food for peace, has said improved early warning systems tracking the impacts of El Niño across the Horn of Africa and the engagement of the Ethiopian government meant levels of famine witnessed in earlier decades are unlikely to recur.
This recurrence of El Niño, one of the strongest ever recorded, will cause both drought and floods in the country, as well as across Africa and Asia more widely.
By the end of the year the UN’s global emergency fund will have provided over $80m in response to humanitarian needs because of climate-related events linked to El Niño. Since July alone, $76m has been disbursed to agencies carrying out aid activities across Asia, Africa and Latin America.
This most recent donation follows $97m in additional emergency food assistance for the country from American development agency USAID earlier this week.

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