Drought and hunger in Ethiopia

Photo credit: UN News Centre – http://static.un.org/News/dh/photos/large/2015/December/12-08-2015Ethiopia.jpg

Nine-year-ole Zahara Ali cooks breakfast in a rural village in the Dubti Woreda, Afar Region, Ethiopia. Photo: UNICEF Ethiopia/2015/Tanya Bindra

Ethiopia: UN urges support to mitigate most devastating drought in 30 years


The United Nations today stepped up its efforts to mitigate the effects of the worst drought to strike Ethiopia in 30 years, with an appeal from the heads of four UN humanitarian bodies for massive international funding now to pre-empt the high risk of death and large scale suffering later.

“We know this is coming. We know how to prevent it. We simply have to act, now,” they wrote in an opinion article for the Huffington Post.

“So far, donors have provided an additional $200 million in aid, but there are early indications that the amount needed to make sure lives are not lost could be around $1 billion. Ethiopia needs that money now, if we are to avert a second tragedy in 30 years,” they added, referring to the catastrophic drought that killed hundreds of thousands from 1983 to 1985.


By early next year, projections indicate that 400,000 children could suffer from Severe Acute Malnutrition, a potentially fatal condition that requires immediate treatment, with some having massive loss of body fat and muscle that makes them look almost elderly, and others becoming puffy with their hair.

“Both sets of symptoms mean there is a high risk of death,” the four warned. “The key to stopping this crisis in its tracks is early warning followed by decisive action.”

They noted that the Government’s safety net programme, the largest in Africa, will assist eight million of the poorest Ethiopians to access food.

Read the full article: UN News Centre

Author: Willem Van Cotthem

Honorary Professor of Botany, University of Ghent (Belgium). Scientific Consultant for Desertification and Sustainable Development.

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