Code red in Ethiopia

A glimpse on the current drought in Ethiopia (Data courtesy of LWF-Ethiopia)

The current drought in Ethiopia has been called the worst in 30 years and some have declared it a “Code Red” drought. It is the result of a combination of factors that includes the pre-El Niño failure of the spring rains and the El Niño induced late onset, erratic and early cessation of the main summer rains.

The impact of the failed spring (belg) (mid-February-May) rains was compounded by the arrival of the El Niño weather conditions that weakened summer (kiremt) (June-September) rains. This  harvest feeds 80 to 85 per cent of the country!

By the numbers:

  •  Over 400 rural districts (woredas) affected.
  • 10.1 million affected so far and 1 million in January 2016 alone
  • 400,000 severely malnourished
  • 1.7 million moderately malnourished
  • 2.0 million without safe drinking water
  • 800,000 displaced
  • 400,000 livestock deaths
  • 1.4 billion USD required for the emergency response

History tells us that the northern part of Ethiopia (Tigray, North Wollo & Afar) is frequently affected by drought and famine than any other region in the country.  Most of the human lives and livestock that were lost because of drought & famine of 1984 was in North Wollo, which include Lalibela.

The district is one of the most vulnerable and drought-prone areas in Ethiopia where rain-fed agriculture is the main stay of livelihoods of almost the entire communities

There has been consecutive crop failure due to intermittent and erratic rainfall patterns for at least the last two years.

The total number of people who are reported to be in need of emergency food assistance in the district is 60,699, of which 25,594 are male, 23,691 female, 6,278 children under five and 5,136 pregnant and lactating women. About 36% of the total population (167,429) in the district are affected by the drought

 What’s being done

LWF, the Government Productive Safety Net Program (PSNP), Plan International, and the Organization for Relief and Development in Amhara Region (ORDA) are offering assistance through either food and cash-for-work activities integrated with road construction and maintenance, rehabilitation of small scale irrigation schemes and terracing of hill sides.

A significant number of people are engaged in food and/or cash for work activities and these activities are intended to benefit people who are listed within the category of chronically food insecure households. The payment is either 6 kg of grain or 35 Birr per person per day.

LWF has prepared an Emergency Response and Risk Mitigation Project in Lasta-Lalibela and Rayitu districts. The appeal is submitted to the ACT Secretariat in Geneva for funding

LWF is also implementing a project entitled “Food Security & Livelihood” in Lasta-Lalibela district.

To address the problem, The Lutheran World Federation with financial support from the Canadian Food Grains Bank  through Canadian Lutheran World Relief launched a Food Security & Livelihood Project in Lasta-Lalibela district.

More on this critical work in my next blog!!

Tom Brook, Community Relations Director


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