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News: Tigray region appeals for aid to support students during drought catastrophe

The Tigray Education Bureau reports that, from an anticipated enrollment exceeding 2.4 million students, only approximately 40% have been able to persist with their educational pursuits (Photo: UN Women)

Addis Abeba – The Tigray Education Bureau has issued a formal request for immediate assistance from the federal government, the international community, and all relevant stakeholders to address the critical “hunger crisis in the Tigray region,” which the administration says is causing an alarming rise in school dropouts.

The Bureau advocates for the swift establishment of a student feeding program to alleviate the negative impact on the educational sector.

Kiros Guesh, head of the Tigray Bureau of Education, underscored the acute nature of the crisis, especially in districts suffering from severe drought. “Thousands of students living in drought-afflicted areas are on the brink of abandoning their education unless a feeding program is introduced without delay,” Kiros stated.

The Tigray interim administration, in partnership with the federal government, international and national NGOs, and the interim regional administration, carried out an assessment from 18 November to 05 December, 2023, focusing on zones that the regional administration could access.

The results of the assessment showed that 36 districts and 213 villages are heavily affected by drought, affecting 625 schools and 222,940 students. The war and the impact of the drought have resulted in enrollment figures that are significantly lower than the schools’ capacity.

The Bureau has emphasized that, out of an expected enrollment of over 2.4 million students, a mere 40% have been able to continue with their education. The situation has been further aggravated by deaths due to starvation, the displacement of people within the region, and migrations across borders.

Moreover, numerous students were unable to participate in the recent 8th-grade national exams due to the debilitating effects of hunger.

With no harvest anticipated for nearly a year, the Bureau anticipates the situation will worsen and urgently calls for international humanitarian aid and the initiation of School Feeding Programs to support the children at risk of educational discontinuation.

To effectively manage and coordinate aid efforts, the Tigray Education Bureau has created a specialized unit in cooperation with pertinent stakeholders to ensure the efficient and adaptable implementation of school feeding programs, according to Kiros.

Alem Abrha, the head of the drought-stricken Irob district, highlighted the critical situation in Duhan, the district’s capital, where students are ceasing their education due to severe food shortages.

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He mourned the loss of life, reporting that “At least 77 people have succumbed to the drought in our district.”

According to a recent article published Addis Standard, the Tigray interim administration has urgently appealed to the global community for humanitarian assistance as the region confronts a looming disaster caused by the aftermath of war and severe drought.

The statement warns of a large-scale humanitarian emergency in the Tigray region, evoking the memory of the 1984/85 famine that led to a substantial loss of life across Ethiopia. AS

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