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Emergency food aid shortage in Ethiopia
June 22, 2017, 1:21 pm

Severe drought that has affected parts of Ethiopia is likely to leave nearly eight million people without access to emergency food aid by the end of this month, says government and international humanitarian groups.

Fluctuations in ocean temperatures, known to meteorologists as the Indian Ocean Dipole, which caused successive failed rains have created a series of severe back-to-back droughts in Ethiopia and the Horn of Africa region.

In Ethiopia, the number of people now critically short of food is expected to rise by at least two million by next month, according to figures compiled by the government and its humanitarian partners.

Donors, international aid groups and the government say existing food aid for the current 7.8 million will run out as funds are critically short this year with Ethiopia receiving slightly more than half of the $930 million to meet requirements until July.

World Food Program’s representative in Ethiopia, John Aylieff, said last week that the situation was dire, following a field trip to Warder in southeast Ethiopia, one of Ethiopia’s hardest-hit areas.  “We’ve got food running out nationally at the end of June. That means the 7.8 million people who are in need of humanitarian food assistance in Ethiopia will see that distribution cut abruptly at the end of June,” he added.

According to United Nations Secretary-General’s humanitarian envoy for the region, Ahmed Al-Meraikhi, donor fatigue is a real factor on efforts to meet requirements. Famine in northeast Nigeria, together with South Sudan, Yemen and Somalia, constitute the worst humanitarian crisis the world has faced since 1945, the UN said in March.

Addis Ababa allocated $272 million extra in 2015 and a further $109 million last year from its own coffers to deal with the drought. However the government said it faced difficulties in sustaining similar targets this year.

Across the Horn of Africa, close to 17 million people need humanitarian aid due to drought, including 2.6 million in Kenya and 3.2 million in Somalia, according to the UN. In the treeless plains littered with makeshift plastic homes in Ethiopia’s Warder, bordering Somalia, displaced and destitute pastoralists said their entire herds had been decimated.

“We have had droughts before, but this time we have drought, diarrhea and disease,” said a 49-year old mother who said her entire livestock had succumbed to illness.

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