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Ethiopia drought: schools closing, livestock dying and wells drying up


Friday, 18 December 2015

As a result of the severe drought in Ethiopia thousands of women and children are currently spending up to six hours a day fetching clean water as many wells are now drying up, and up to 1.2 million children are missing out on education as schools are closed in the worst affected areas.

“This is the worst drought in Ethiopia for 50 years, and is having a terrible impact on the lives of children and their families across affected parts of the country,” warns John Graham, Save the Children's Country Director in Ethiopia.

“The desperate choices many families are now being forced to make include slaughtering their oxen needed to plough the fields during the next rainy season for food, or eating the seeds which are needed to plant in February.

“In other areas, schools are now closed, and children are missing out on their education and with busy mothers walking hours for water often without care. The severity of the current drought is devastating communities and undermining the tremendous progress that the country has made in development over the last decade; we cannot stand by and watch that progress be lost.

Drought conditions, triggered by El Niño, began in June of this year in remote North Eastern areas of the country, as well as many parts of Somalia and Somaliland, and have spread rapidly to the more populous highlands.

The Government of Ethiopia recently unveiled a comprehensive plan to respond to the immediate needs of those most affected, with the international community pledging $300m so far. However, an estimated $1.4bn for emergency food, clean water, and nutrition and health is needed to help save the lives of the most vulnerable.

“Humanitarian aid is coming in from the international community, but still too slowly, and the Ethiopian government has already committed an unprecedented $297 million as well as distributing their own limited food stocks, but this is still a race against time to meet the needs,” Graham says.

Save the Children is one of the main agencies supporting Government efforts, and has already delivered emergency food aid to over 250,000 people, and treated over 4,000 cases of child malnutrition since the drought started.”

The agency is working in over 60 of the worst-affected districts in Ethiopia, providing food, water, medicine and crucial support to families who have lost their incomes, with an immediate focus on increasing food aid, treating child malnutrition, water trucking, intervening to save livestock and crops where possible, and supporting families to keep their children in school through the crisis.

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For further information or interviews please contact a.klein@savethechildren.org.uk / 07587038492

Notes to editors

  • *Children make up approximately 57% of the country’s population; meaning that more than 5.75 million children are now facing critical food shortages.
  • Save the Children has developed a two-year response strategy, requiring $100m to support 2 million people through this crisis.
  • Save the Children has had permanent presence in Ethiopia since 1965 (Save the Children Sweden) and first helped with nutrition in Ethiopia in 1930 (Save the Children UK). Since 1984 the agency has focused on humanitarian relief, resilience, healthcare, nutrition, education and employment opportunities for young people. See more at: https://ethiopia.savethechildren.net/