The El Niño global climactic event has wreaked havoc on Ethiopia’s summer rains. This comes on the heels of failed spring rains, and has driven food insecurity, malnutrition and water shortages in affected areas of the country.
Following a rapid assessment in early October, the Government and partners concluded that the number of people requiring emergency food assistance had increased to 8.2 million. There are fears that this figure will continue to grow; efforts are currently underway to further identify the most urgent needs for the coming year. A well-coordinated response is already underway and expanding rapidly, although the scale of the developing emergency exceeds resources available to date. “The leadership and commitment of the Government in driving this response has been exceptional,” said Paul Handley, the OCHA Head of Office. “They have already allocated more than US$200 million of their own funds to procure relief items and conduct emergency livestock and water interventions.” International donors have also been mobilizing resources to fill critical funding gaps and support Government response efforts. Since 30 September, new donor commitments to this emergency exceed US$120 million. This is impressive; however, much more is urgently needed. “One thing is certain,” said Samir Wanmali, acting Country Director for the UN World Food Programme. “Ethiopia today is far different from the Ethiopia of the past. Ethiopia has a robust disaster risk management system in place to respond to the needs of its people. With the Government’s leadership and support from the international community, we will mitigate the worst of El Nino’s effect. We need to ensure that this natural disaster does not affect the remarkable progress that Ethiopia has made over the past decade.” Given the lead times necessary for the procurement of relief items, the Government and its international partners have called for early action to this slow onset natural disaster.