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Aljazeera.com: Ethiopia: Horn of Africa: Millions suffering due to prolonged drought

Posted by: Berhane.Habtemariam59@web.de

Date: Tuesday, 26 March 2019

By Will Baxter

Dire Dawa, Ethiopia - Millions of people in the Horn of Africa are suffering from a prolonged drought that is coinciding with the United States's proposal to slash funding for lifesaving food aid.

Earlier this month, the White House, in the 2020 fiscal year budget submitted to Congress, called for a 24-percent cut in US foreign assistance.

Recently released data from the Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWSN) predicts worsening drought, severe hunger and crop failures of up to 30 percent in parts of the region in the coming months.

"We're very concerned by the deteriorating conditions in the region where we are seeing families - whose lives rely on the land - unable to cope," said Matt Davis, the East Africa regional director for Catholic Relief Services, which oversees a major US government-funded food assistance programme in the region.

"We are concerned the administration's budget could abandon millions of families around the world just when they need help the most."

Climate change is also dramatically impacting crop yields in some of the poorest areas of the world.

The number of extreme climate-related disasters including severe heat, droughts, floods and storms has doubled since 1990, according to The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World report released by the United Nations last year.

These disasters destroy crops, resulting in tragic consequences for people who live off the land. In the Horn of Africa, up to 80 percent of the population is subsistence farmers.

"We have not seen an improvement in the climate situation," said Birhan, a mother of four from rural Hawzen district in Ethiopia's Tigray region.

"The drought is becoming recurrent. But if there is rain, it is excessive and destroys the crops."

Birhan is one of around 1.5 million people who receive food through a USAID-funded programme that provides emergency assistance to people affected by the drought.

"Without this assistance, our only chance would be to migrate. I don't even know where I would go," she said.

To make matters worse, rainfall from October to December of last year was 55 percent less than normal in some parts of the Horn. As a result, widespread hunger is expected to increase in the coming months.

Birhan, a 40-year-old mother of four, sets off for a distribution point to collect her family's monthly rations in Hawzen. Birhan receives support from the Joint Emergency Operation Program, a USAID-funded food relief initiative. [Will Baxter/CRS]
Birhan, a 40-year-old mother of four, sets off for a distribution point to collect her family's monthly rations in Hawzen. Birhan receives support from the Joint Emergency Operation Program, a USAID-funded food relief initiative. Will Baxter/CRS
'I was identified to receive support because my crop was destroyed. People in this community are all in a similar situation,' said Birhan. [Will Baxter/CRS]
'I was identified to receive support because my crop was destroyed. People in this community are all in a similar situation,' said Birhan. Will Baxter/CRS
'If people didn't receive this aid, they would have to migrate. It is safer for them to stay near their homes. If they leave, they will face additional hardships,' said Birtukan Gedefaw of Food for the Hungry. [Will Baxter/CRS]
'If people didn't receive this aid, they would have to migrate. It is safer for them to stay near their homes. If they leave, they will face additional hardships,' said Birtukan Gedefaw of Food for the Hungry. Will Baxter/CRS
According to the World Health Organization, drought in developing countries like Ethiopia disproportionately affects the health of women and children due to the lack of access to food and clean water. [Will Baxter/CRS]
According to the World Health Organization, drought in developing countries like Ethiopia disproportionately affects the health of women and children due to the lack of access to food and clean water. Will Baxter/CRS
People register for food distribution in Ejianeni, in rural Dire Dawa Administration. A consortium of NGOs distribute emergency food aid to around 1.5 million people every month in areas of Ethiopia affected by the drought. [Will Baxter/CRS]
People register for food distribution in Ejianeni, in rural Dire Dawa Administration. A consortium of NGOs distribute emergency food aid to around 1.5 million people every month in areas of Ethiopia affected by the drought. Will Baxter/CRS
New technology has been in place since 2016 to track food aid in Ethiopia. Around 99 percent of aid has been accounted for and delivered to the families for which it is intended through this technology. [Will Baxter/CRS]
New technology has been in place since 2016 to track food aid in Ethiopia. Around 99 percent of aid has been accounted for and delivered to the families for which it is intended through this technology. Will Baxter/CRS
A woman opens bags of wheat at a distribution point in Hawzen district. 'This is a part of the world where the majority of families survive on what food they are able to grow. So even the smallest shifts in weather can leave these families with nothing,' said CRS's Matt Davis. [Will Baxter/CRS]
A woman opens bags of wheat at a distribution point in Hawzen district. 'This is a part of the world where the majority of families survive on what food they are able to grow. So even the smallest shifts in weather can leave these families with nothing,' said CRS's Matt Davis. Will Baxter/CRS
Families identified for receiving support get monthly rations of peas, wheat and cooking oil. [Will Baxter/CRS]
Families identified for receiving support get monthly rations of peas, wheat and cooking oil. Will Baxter/CRS
A woman uses a donkey to transport her rations of wheat from a distribution point in Ejianeni. 'For the drought-affected population, the food we provide is a lifeline. It can hold families together,' said Girma Kebede from the Hararghe Catholic Secretariat. [Will Baxter/CRS]
A woman uses a donkey to transport her rations of wheat from a distribution point in Ejianeni. 'For the drought-affected population, the food we provide is a lifeline. It can hold families together,' said Girma Kebede from the Hararghe Catholic Secretariat. Will Baxter/CRS
With the family's basic food needs met, parents like Birhan face less of a financial burden and are more likely to keep their children in school. [Will Baxter/CRS]
With the family's basic food needs met, parents like Birhan face less of a financial burden and are more likely to keep their children in school. Will Baxter/CRS
'My oldest daughter wants to go to Saudi Arabia for work. I prefer not to move. I will try to resist and survive on my own until the next harvest period. But if the same happens again [with the drought], I will have to migrate like others,' said Febedu Mehari. [Will Baxter/CRS]
'My oldest daughter wants to go to Saudi Arabia for work. I prefer not to move. I will try to resist and survive on my own until the next harvest period. But if the same happens again [with the drought], I will have to migrate like others,' said Febedu Mehari. Will Baxter/CRS
 
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