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Analysis: Despite massive resources mobilization, drought victim IDPs in Borana zone complain inadequate, unfair aid distribution

A drought victim carrying away aid flour in Elwaya IDPs camp, Yabelo, Borana (Photo: Addis Standard)

By Biruk Alemu @Birukalemu21 & Medihane Ekubamichael @Medihane

Addis Ababa – It has been more than a year since the pastoralists of Dubluk district in Borena Zone of Oromia Region, who lost all their livestock and properties to the drought that occurred as result of rain failure for five consecutive rainy seasons started living in the Dublik IDPs center.

The center shelters more than 9,000 households which is nearly 54,000 people who were displaced from 13 kebeles/villages of the district as the impact of the drought got worse.

In the Dubuluk district alone, more than 43,000 livestock have died due to the drought over the past three years, and after the rains, two weeks ago, there are about 20,000 additional cattle that are very weak and cannot move, according to residents and local administration.

Galma Gule was displaced from Dirre district and took shelter at the Dubluk IDPs center after he lost all his livestock a year ago. He spoke to Addis Standard how the severity of the impact of the drought affected his community. “There are many people who committed suicide because they were unable to feed their children. Others couldn’t withstand the loss of their livestocks,” he noted.

Among these people is Hussein Shane, who suffered a mental illness and was hospitalized for 38 days after losing 174 cattle out of 178. “In the past, if you ask for water in Borana, you would be given milk, but today we do not even have water to drink,” Hussein told Addis Standard.

Another victim Adi Arero, who fled his Bokoksa village, 36 kilometers away from Dubluk, and currently lives in the center with his eight children also said that the ten cans of aid flour that is being given per a household hasn’t been adequate.

“We can’t eat even once a day, and as a result the elderly and children are being severely affected,” he said.

Several other victims in the center who spoke to Addis Standard said, despite little improvements in recent months, the aid that they are getting is not enough, in addition to problems with regard to fair distribution of the aid.

“We can’t eat even once a day, and as a result the elderly and children are being severely affected”

Adi Arero, drought victim

An elderly mother, who refused to say her name, angrily complained that, “there is no fair distribution of relief food in the shelter, especially for newly arriving people like us, we are not being given anything. They tell us to wait, we stay there until evening, and when it gets dark, they tell us again to come back tomorrow. When we return in the morning, the aid will be given to those who are organized in groups, and there are those who take twice before we get even once, we will return empty hands to our children who are suffering from hunger”.

Abdulkadir Ali, administrator of the Dubluk district admitted that there is no adequate food aid being given to the victims mainly because of an unmatching number of IDPs in the center. He added that the victims also suffer from severe lack of water as there are only four water tankers in the center. 

Lack of medicine and treatment for those were sickening, lack of proper shelter and sanitation services in the center has also been exposing the IDPs to further health risk he noted. 

Impact of the recent rain, floods

Since the past three weeks, the rains that had not rained in Borana for five consecutive seasons dropped and caused additional devastation. 

Abdulkadir said most of the plastic tarpaulins used by the displaced people as shelters have been torn apart by the rains exposing those with already fragile health conditions to cold and various other ailments.

He added that floods have washed away the little aid food that the IDPs were given. The official also said that there is a high risk of malaria and cholera outbreak. He called for an urgent supply of water treatment medicines, mosquito nets and other materials to prevent the outbreak of the diseases.

Following the rains, the already weakened livestock are dying, Abdulkadir noted, adding that  more than 5,700 goats have died in the district in just two weeks due to the recent rains.

According to Abdulkadir, some residents who used to farm couldn’t get back to farming after the rains because they have already lost almost all of their livestock. Efforts to help them to farm with tractors haven’t been successful because the district doesn’t own the machines nor have financial capacity to rent them. 

He emphasized the need to supply the farmers with seeds, fertilizers and tractors to permanently rehabilitate them.

In Elwaya Ambo IDPs camp…

The problem in the Elwaya Ambo IDP camp, which is about 100 kilometers from Yabelo, the capital of Borana Zone, is no different from Dubluk. 

The IDPs there told Addis Standard that they too received so little aid that children and the elderly are suffering from severe hunger and illness. A young woman named Deki Galma, who was displaced from Mekenisa village nine months ago and entered the Elwaya shelter, said that they had not received any help for a long time.

According to Hapi Gerbicha, head of the Elwaya village there are more than 1,100 households  in the shelter without adequate aid. He added that there are about 30 elders who are weakened as a result of the drought, and need special attention.

Due to lack of adequate aid some drought victims are abandoning the IDP camps and traveling to urban areas to beg for food as witnessed by Addis Standard journalists. More than 25 women who claim to be from Yubdo village were seen begging for food in Yabelo town for their families starving back in the shelters.

In early March, the Oromia Regional State said that it is responding appropriately to providing emergency assistance to people in need of emergency aid in the Borana zone.  

Debela Itana, Director of Logistics for Response and Rehabilitation at the Oromia Busa Gonofa, regional commission in charge of humanitarian response, told Addis Standard that 867,140 people affected by the drought have been receiving aid on a regular basis, noting that the problem wasn’t “beyond the ability of the government and the community”.

However the regional government on 11 March issued a statement prohibiting raising funds or collecting aid items to support drought victims in the zone without the permission of the regional government in a bid to prevent aid wastage and irregularities in its distribution, and also make it accessible to the people who are facing problems in a fair and transparent way.

On 13 March, Addis Standard reported that victims of the drought in Borena were reeling in the midst of allegations on the rising cases of corruption in aid administration that saw a portion of the aid deliveries taken for personal use by the people in charge of local aid distribution.

The regional government’s relief commission officials weren’t available to comment on the latest complaints of inadequate and unfair aid distribution of the Borana drought victims. AS

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