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News: Six dead, thousands at risk of starvation in drought-hit Sahala district of Amhara region

Six people have tragically succumbed to starvation in the Sahala district, while 4,600 livestock have perished due to a lack of pasture and water (Photo: Waghimra Zone Administration/Facebook)

Addis Abeba – Six people have tragically lost their lives due to severe hunger in the drought-stricken Sahala District of the Waghemra Zone in Amhara Region. Local officials revealed that the fatalities resulted from a combination of failed crops and limited humanitarian access caused by ongoing conflict.

Mihret Melaku, the head of the Waghimra Zone Food Security and Disaster Prevention Office, described the situation as critical, explaining that all crops have failed this year. He said the ongoing conflict in the region has further compounded the issue by hindering the delivery of much-needed assistance due to road access problems.

To exacerbate matters, approximately 230 quintals of donated sorghum were recently stolen en route, adding to the existing challenges. Just days ago, Addis Standard reported that a truck dispatched by the Ethiopian Red Cross Society (ERCS) carrying essential supplies, including edible oil and emergency food, remains stranded in Bahir Dar City due to the conflict, blocking access roads. Additional aid convoys planned for the drought-stricken region have also been unable to proceed due to security concerns affecting the roads, according to Mesfin Dereje, the communication director of ERCS.

Mihret confirmed the current situation of the stranded aid truck, emphasizing that zonal officials are actively coordinating with ERCS to ensure aid reaches those in desperate need of food and water as quickly as possible. He underscores that delays in assistance pose a significant risk of further loss of life due to starvation and the increasing needs of the population.

Sisay Buru, the Sahala district administrator, concurred with the zonal Food Security and Disaster Prevention Office’s assessment of complete crop failure and a rising death toll in the area. He added that approximately 4,600 livestock have also perished due to a lack of pasture and water.

Sisay stated that over 90% of Sahala’s estimated population of 51,000 now requires urgent food, water, and medical support. Food security officials warn that these conditions place over 180,000 people across 26 administrative units (kebeles) in three lowland districts within Waghemra Zone at risk of starvation.

Without additional aid, residents in Sahala are struggling to feed their children, resulting in hunger-related illnesses, according to Mihret. Despite the distribution of over 8,000 quintals of grains thus far, zonal administrators stress that the needs remain high amidst the ongoing drought crisis.

The drought is also impacting students’ school attendance, with education officials reporting a significant decrease in student attendance. At the start of the new school year, over 1,688 students in Sahala have been forced to drop out due to the persistent drought as families relocate in search of water and employment opportunities.

Mihret urgently appeals for action to prevent further loss of human and animal lives in this drought-stricken area. “We call for increased aid from both the regional and federal governments to avert further loss of life,” he states.

Early last month, Addis Standard reported the death of 18 people due to hunger, two in the Sahala district of Waghemra zone and 16 others in the Janamora district of the North Gondar zone. AS

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