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News: Konso Zone in need of urgent assistance as drought devastates thousands

Solomon Soka, member of the House of Representatives for Konso Nation and director general of Information Network Security Administration (INSA), discussing with the state and society representatives. Photo: Konso Zone government communication

Addis Abeba: Solomon Soka, member of the House of Representatives for Konso Nation and director general of Information Network Security Administration (INSA), requested urgent attention to the people of Konso who are exposed to severe damage due to drought.

Residents in the area are subjected to severe and devastating drought and displacement caused by a natural disaster, resulting in a lack of rain, which challenged their hard work and livelihood, according to Konso Zone government communication directorate. The area has not received sufficient precipitation for over four consecutive years.

A month ago, regional authorities in Southern Nations, Nationalities and People’s (SNNP) regional state warned that the persistent drought in the Konso zone has threatened the lives of many. The lack of food and fodder is killing people and animals on daily basis. The issue continues to be concerning despite the assistance being provided by the zonal safety-net development program and other partners.

Gelgelo Gelsho, the region’s deputy president, stated the drought situation reached a critical point, rivers in the zone have all dried up, and an immediate solution is needed at the time.

In July last year, local authorities in Konso zone confirmed the death of at least 13 children due to hunger as drought and conflicts continued to affect the area. The number of malnourished children in the district was also growing, with more than 240 of them admitted to hospitals already.

In the neighboring Borena zone of the Oromia regional state, the impact of the drought is also taking a toll leaving more than 800,000 residents of the zone in need of immediate food assistance.

UN’s Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said between June and December of 2022, South-Eastern part of Ethiopia, including Somali, Oromia, and the Southern Nations and Nationalities People’s region (SNNPR), experienced one of the worst droughts recorded in the Horn of Africa, impacting 12 million people.

The community has been consulted on current concerns by the federal and state representatives of the Konso people as well as representatives of various societies in the area.

The community in Konso zone discussing with federal, state, and society representatives.

Water supplies and power outages have been identified as key problems by society’s representatives. Further difficulties with roads, energy, water, development, and good governance are the barriers preventing the zone’s development.

The Konso zone is among the volatile areas prone to inter-communal clashes in the SNNPR. In April 2022, some 37,000 people have fled the Segen Zuria and Sagan districts of the zone due to the communal clash erupted between the Konso people and the bordering Ale special district. The volatile security situation, particularly in Segen Zuria Woreda, hindered provision of humanitarian assistance, it was reported.

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The representatives of the society requested the attention and involvement of all stakeholders in ensuring lasting peace, rehabilitating people who are at risk of hunger, and displacement due to drought and conflict.

Solomon has issued a warning signal to the federal government, development organizations, and all Ethiopians to cooperate in order to tackle the situation in the zone, pointing to working in collaboration as being mandatory in short- and long-term plans. AS

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