250 - The unnoticed killer drought in Ethiopia
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The unnoticed killer drought in Ethiopia

Ethiopia, long associated with a devastating famine in the 1980s, again has been hit by severe drought in the highland region affecting millions of people. With food scarcely available across the continent and a strained budget, the resources aren’t there to fight it.

Drought in Ethiopia hits for the second time in two years
As we highlighted in an earlier blog, Ethiopia isn’t the only African country facing drought. War-torn nations Nigeria, South Sudan, and Somalia are struggling to meet basic needs of their people. But while the crisis in those countries is manmade, there is a nearly unnoticed, more environmental, crisis taking place nearby.

This year, the Ethiopian government raised its count of the number of people requiring emergency food aid from 5.6 million to 7.8 million. It is a move that aid agencies say was long overdue. The figure is expected to rise further in the coming months as Southeast Ethiopia confronts another severe drought.

Ethiopia was in the news worldwide in the 1980s because of a widespread famine that was the most severe to hit the country in a century. Last year the country returned to the headlines when it was affected by severe drought in the highland region, affecting ten million people. At that time, food aid poured in, and the government spent hundreds of millions of its own money to avert an escalation of the famine.

Now it’s the turn of the lowland region, especially the area bordering Somalia, where warming temperatures in the Indian Ocean brought on a drought that has ravaged the flocks of the herders in the region and left people without food.

After last year’s drought in Ethiopia, the government has run out of cash, and therefore the resources aren’t there to fight the current famine. There could eventually be as many people in Ethiopia needing emergency food assistance as in Somalia and South Sudan combined. This could be very tragic not only for the country but the larger continent as well.

With their sheep and goats mostly perished, nomads in camps are surviving on aid from the government and international agencies, but that food is about to run out. Donors are focused on Somalia across the border; little foreign aid has found its way to the Ethiopian hit areas. If no new money arrives, the rations could be cut to 420 calories for the whole day, which comes down to a burger.

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