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Drought induced hunger claims dozens of lives, left millions at risk in Tigray and Amhara regions

In Tanqua Abergele district, a staggering 17,000 hectares of crops were decimated by the drought out of the total 19,000 hectares of land under cultivation (Social Media)

Addis Abeba – Tragic consequences have unfolded in Abergelle Yechila, a district located in the Tigray region, where a relentless drought has ushered in a wave of hunger and despair. Disturbing reports reveal that at least 46 individuals have succumbed to starvation, their lives stolen by the unforgiving forces of hunger.

Adding to the harrowing plight, a staggering 90,000 people find themselves caught in a distressing predicament as the drought persists, exacerbating their vulnerability without access to any form of lifesaving humanitarian assistance.

Alemayehu Gebremariam, head of the economic cluster at Abergelle district located in Central Tigray Zone, told Addis Standard that out of the 19,000 hectares of land that were cultivated, 17,000 hectares of crops were decimated by the drought. This has put over 90,000 people at risk without any humanitarian aid or support.

A month ago, Eyasu Abrha, the head of the Tigray Agriculture Bureau, told Addis Standard that the impact of drought extends beyond the Abergele district. He explained that approximately 132,000 hectares of farmland, spanning the south, southeast, and eastern zones of Tigray, have been affected by drought. This poses a significant threat to a region that has already been devastated by ongoing conflict.

The ongoing drought is even more distressing as it impacts 20% of Tigray’s farmland, spread across 27 districts in the region, rendering it unproductive and posing a significant risk to the majority of the population. The already dire consequences of the drought are compounded by the fact that Tigray’s agricultural system has already suffered extensive damage and disruption due to two years of conflict, looting, and destruction.

It is not only the Tigray region that is affected by the ongoing drought. People residing in the neighboring Amhara region are also experiencing one of the worst droughts.

Earlier this week, residents of the Waghemra Zone and North Gonder Zone told Deutsche Welle that around 40 people have died from health issues related to hunger. The lack of rain in June and May has led to a severe drought in various districts across northern Amhara areas, resulting in significant damage to crops and animal herds.

Officials from the Waghemra Zone’s Communication Bureau recently disclosed to Addis Standard that six people tragically lost their lives due to extreme hunger in the drought-stricken Sahala District. These deaths were a direct consequence of failed harvests and restricted humanitarian access caused by ongoing conflicts in the area.

Shegaw Tesema, head of Janamora district in the North Gonder Zone, has stated that while no deaths from hunger have been reported, water scarcity is a major concern. Due to this shortage, people from two administrative units have been forced to displace themselves in search of water. Additionally, the lack of medicine and animal fodder has resulted in numerous livestock fatalities.

Tesfaw Batable, Commissioner of the Amhara Disaster Prevention and Food Security Commission, revealed to state media today that drought has occurred in nine zones and forty-two districts in the region. He also said the ongoing drought has affected 1.8 million people in the region, on top of the loss of animals. AS

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