Drought in Ethiopia

Photo credit: UN News Centre

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (centre), accompanied by World Food Programme (WFP) Executive Director Ertharin Cousin (right), visited drought-affected Ziway Dugda Woreda, Oromia Region in Ethiopia. UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe

 

Visiting drought-hit region of Ethiopia, Ban urges support to Government-led humanitarian efforts

The international community must stand with the people of Ethiopia in their time of need, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said today, urging donors gathered in Addis Ababa to step up assistance to the country, before heading to the drought-stricken region of Oromia where he witnessed first-hand efforts under way to battle the effects of one of the most powerful El Niño events in recorded history.

“The people of this beautiful country are facing their worst drought in thirty years,” Mr. Bantold participants at a donors humanitarian round table convened in the Ethiopian capital in the margins of the 26th African Union Summit.

Later in the day, the Secretary-General visited the drought-stricken Oromia region with the Deputy Prime Minister of Ethiopia, Demeke Mekonnen, and Ertharin Cousin, the Executive Director of the UN World Food Programme (WFP). Saying that he was “very moved,” Mr. Ban visited a health post, a water borehole and a food distribution and cash transfer point.

“This is a very moving experience for me as Secretary-General to witness myself how the Ethiopian Government and the United Nations agencies, the World Bank, all humanitarian workers are working together to address difficult challenges,” he said noting that the area has been seriously impacted by long spells of drought caused by El Niño climate phenomenon. “It is important that the Government is leading this response and the United Nations is now helping: it is quite moving,” he reiterated.

The Secretary-General went on to say that when he saw the people working and trying to get water and trying to improve their health nutrition conditions, it took him back brought more than 60 years ago “when […] I was a young boy in Korea, early 1950s. As you may know, Korea had war at the time. When the war broke out, we were [in a situation] as difficult as people are now here, even more difficult at the time.”

He said he was very much grateful to all humanitarian workers at the small health post where he had seen health workers distributing vaccines, and providing check-ups. It was impressive to see that malnutrition levels had dropped significantly and that people had been saved from malaria.

Read the full article: UN News Centre

 

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Willem Van Cotthem

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