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04/12/2016

Ethiopia resilience efforts help mitigate worst drought in decades

Development Policy

Ethiopia resilience efforts help mitigate worst drought in decades

Draught in Ethiopia. [World Food Programme]

Ethiopia is facing its worst drought in decades, as a result of weather conditions known as El Niño, which are set to worsen. But the government is working hard to build resilience and to mitigate the crisis.

The failure of two consecutive rainy seasons, including summer rain that normally feeds 80-85 per cent of the country, but was exceptionally weak this year, has devastated livelihoods and greatly increased malnutrition rates in six regions.

The crisis is linked to the strength of this year’s El Niño, a water-warming weather phenomenon in the Pacific Ocean, which has led to sharply reduced rainfall levels across densely populated swathes of the country.

Government efforts to contain its effects are based on internal resource mobilization, and on international cooperation.

>>Read: Europe tries new recipe to combat hunger in Ethiopia

The Ethiopian government has so far extended more than ETB 2 billion (around €87 million) for the affected areas, and has pledged 450,000 metric tons of wheat, with plans to secure a total of one million metric tons.

Excess agricultural production in southern parts of the country have been distributed to the affected regions.

In addition, the government will continue to use funds from the federal reserve and regional states to address the risks caused by El Niño.

According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), the current drought is the worst Ethiopia has seen in decades. However, the country has acquired a strong resilience capacity for shocks related to drought and food shortages.

>>Read: African herdsmen use mobile phones for drought alerts

In recent years, the Ethiopian government allotted 70% of public capital principally to agriculture, which gas reduced poverty in the country by 33% since 2000.

Moreover, during the last decade, the size of the road network to connect farmers to markets and emergency responders to remote villages doubled. Programs such as the Productive Safety Net Programme (PSNP) further help increase food resilience of families.

On 12 October, the government announced that the number of people in need of relief assistance due to El Niño had increased to 8.2 million, from 4.55 million in August.

Affected areas include southern Tigray, eastern Amhara, Afar, and the Siti zone of Somali region, eastern SNNP, East and West Hararge, Arsi and West Arsi, and the lower Bale zones of Oromia.

El Niño is expected to affect the first months of 2016.