Ethiopia: The crippling effects of drought, and the light at the end of the tunnel
Michael Tewelde

Ethiopia: The crippling effects of drought, and the light at the end of the tunnel

WFP

Hadra Abdi is facing the worst drought that she can remember. She lives in the Ethiopian Somali Region, where her husband is a pastoralist, or a cattle herder. Hadra, 25, and her husband have done everything they can to provide for their four young children, but the current drought has stolen a lot from them:  their sheep, their cows and their livelihoods.

“In our good times, we used to own 100 goats and sheep, as well as three cattle,” explains Hadra. These livestock were essential for her family, as they gave them the means to survive, allowing them to have meat or milk, and the ability to generate income through local sales.

Unfortunately, the drought was as swift as it was vicious. Hadra was shocked at how quickly she lost over 75 per cent of her livelihood. In less than a year, only 15 goats and one cow had survived the drought’s wrath.

“My husband and I were very worried at how we would be able to buy food and clothes for our kids, or medicine if they got sick,” says Hadra. As part of WFP’s emergency food assistance programme in the Somali Region, Hadra and her family have been receiving a mix of cereals, pulses and oil, which has helped to carry them through these hard times.

Ethiopia: The crippling effects of drought, and the light at the end of the tunnel
© WFP/Michael Tewelde

Hadra’s story is not unique. She is one of more than 8.5 million people who need food assistance, due to a third consecutive year of drought. The hardest hit is the Somali Region, where 3.3 million people have been pushed into food insecurity and malnutrition rates have risen to alarming levels.

Since November 2016, families across the Somali Region have lost a great number of livestock, which are the foundation of livelihoods of traditional pastoralists — the majority of people living here. These recurrent climate shocks have sparked ripple effects across the region, as families fight to keep their animals alive, access food to survive and ward off the many diseases that often accompany such a fragile humanitarian situation.

This story features on CERF 2017 Annual Report