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News: Four million Ethiopians on the brink as food crises escalates

Approximately four million individuals in drought-afflicted regions of Ethiopia are being impacted by the ongoing crisis of drought (Photo: Addis Standard)

Addis Abeba – The Ethiopian Disaster Risk Management Commission (DRMC) and the United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator have released a joint statement urgently addressing the severe humanitarian crisis affecting approximately four million individuals in drought-afflicted areas of Ethiopia.

The statement highlights that repeated instances of drought over the preceding year have drastically affected agricultural productivity and food accessibility in the regions of Afar, Amhara, Tigray, Oromia, Southern, and Southwest.

The extended absence of rainfall has led to the devastation of crops and livestock, intensifying already high levels of acute food insecurity. Furthermore, malnutrition rates have escalated due to a lack of access to nutritious food.

Additionally, the drought has resulted in critical water shortages for human and animal use, heightening the threat of water-borne diseases. As a consequence, there has been a spike in malaria, measles, and cholera among communities with diminished resilience.

Despite the government and its partners’ relentless efforts to enhance agricultural and food security interventions through numerous distributions, the statement acknowledges that these measures have not completely mitigated the effects of successive droughts on vulnerable populations.

From July to December 2023, over 7.3 million individuals received food aid from the government. Since mid-December, entities such as the World Food Program and Catholic Relief Services have provided assistance to an additional 6.5 million people in priority areas.

Nonetheless, the DRMC and United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator caution that without an intensification of relief operations and augmented donor support, the situation may worsen. They emphasize the critical need for immediate aid to the nearly four million people confronting “crisis” or “emergency” levels of food insecurity in the forthcoming months.

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Both government and humanitarian agencies are prepared to swiftly deliver comprehensive assistance, provided that supplies and resources are adequately pre-positioned. An immediate expansion of response capabilities is imperative to prevent further deterioration of conditions.

In the previous month, the Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET) issued a grave warning about the escalating food insecurity in Ethiopia.

As a leading entity in monitoring acute food insecurity, FEWS NET forecasted a dramatic increase in challenges, with four million people at risk of entering emergency hunger conditions across five regions by mid-2024 in the absence of urgent intervention.

More recently, the interim administration of Tigray issued an urgent plea for aid, warning of an imminent humanitarian disaster resulting from the combined effects of war and drought. The interim government’s statement indicated that Tigray is on the verge of a significant crisis, evoking memories of the devastating 1984/85 famine that resulted in widespread mortality.

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The statement further explained that Tigray has experienced extensive destruction of vital infrastructure and healthcare systems due to the war’s impact. This has led to the displacement of over one million individuals and the extreme impoverishment of millions of people in Tigray, depriving them of their livelihoods.

The interim administration reports that years of conflict and drought have severely damaged essential services and means of subsistence. AS

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