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Drought-stricken herders in Ethiopia need urgent support

Photo: ©FAO/Tamiru Legesse

Drought has devastated herders’ livelihoods, with many animals dying or falling ill.

11 August 2017, Addis Ababa - Supporting herders to get back on their feet and preventing further livestock losses and suffering are crucial in drought-hit Ethiopia where hunger has been on the rise this year, warned today the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).

Drought has devastated herders’ livelihoods as it exhausted pastures and water sources, leading to a significant number of animals dying or falling ill, particularly in the southern and southeastern regions of the country as other areas recover from previous seasons’ El Niño-induced drought.

Drought-hit pastoralists face reduced milk production, rising malnutrition, and have limited income-earning capacity and severely constrained access to food.

Some 8.5 million people – one in 12 people – are now suffering from hunger; of these, 3.3 million people live in Somali Region.

The current food and nutrition crisis is significantly aggravated by the severe blow to pastoral livelihoods. For livestock-dependent families, the animals can literally mean the difference between life and death, especially for children, pregnant and nursing women for whom milk is a crucial source of nutrition.

With up to 2 million animals lost so far, FAO is focusing on providing emergency livestock support to the most vulnerable pastoralist communities through animal vaccination and treatment, supplementary feed and water, rehabilitating water points, and supporting fodder and feed production.

“It is crucial to provide this support between now and October – when rains are due – to begin the recovery process and prevent further losses of animals. If we don’t act now, hunger and malnutrition will only get worse among pastoral communities,” said Abdoul Karim Bah, FAO Deputy Representative in Ethiopia.

FAO supported the provision of multinutrient blocks - food supplements for cattle - so that animals regain their strenght. Herders in Somali region giving a multinutrient block to their weak cattle. Some 2 million animals were lost this year to drought. Photo: FAO/Tamiru Legesse.

By providing supplementary feed and water for livestock, while at the  same time supporting fodder production, FAO seeks to protect core breeding animals and enable drought-hit families to rebuild their livelihoods. Animal health campaigns will be reinforced to protect animals, particularly before the rains set in, when they are at their weakest and more susceptible to parasites or infectious diseases. FAO-supported destocking and cash-for-work programmes will also provide a crucial source of cash for families.

Funding appeal

Women in Somali region, where 3.3 million people suffer from hunger and need urgent support. Photo: FAO/Tamiru Legesse.

FAO urgently requires US$ 20 million between August and December to come to the aid of Ethiopia’s farmers and herders.

FAO has already assisted almost 500,000 drought-hit people in 2017 through a mix of livestock feed provision, destocking and animal health interventions, thanks to the support of the Ethiopia Humanitarian Fund, Switzerland, Spain, Sweden through FAO’s Special Fund for Emergency and Rehabilitation Activities, the United Nations Central Emergency Response Fund, as well as FAO’s own Early Warning Early Action fund and Technical Cooperation Programme.

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