Thursday, July 7, 2016

Floods in Ethiopia exacerbate drought and food security at risk

Ethiopia's national dish, Injera. Flooding is threathening people's food security
Ethiopia's national dish, Injera. Flooding is threathening people's food security

The United Nations Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) is appealing for $3 million into September 2016 to help Ethiopians recover from a severe drought followed by recent flash floods.

The UN agency said that floods across Ethiopia have severely impacted the ability of livestock-dependent Ethiopians to recover from 18-months of drought brought on by El Nino.

Reports from Ethiopia’s National Flood Task Force show that close to 690,000 people are now likely be affected, with more than 320,000 estimated to be displaced, said the FAO in a report.

“These predictions may rise even further as these heavy rains come on the cusp of what some meteorological experts predict will be a significant La Niña episode – usually accompanied by heavy rainfall – starting as early as September 2016,” added FAO.

Livestock affected

Over 55,000 hectares of land, much of it pasture, has been flooded. Thousands of livestock have died due to flash floods and landslides, brought on by the long-awaited spring season rains, in regions such as Somali, SNNPR (Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples’ Region), Oromia, Amhara and Afar.

Particularly affected are the livestock-dependent households.

“Animal health is particularly at risk, and livestock experts have highlighted the crucial role of emergency on-the-ground health provisions such as vaccinations and treatments to prevent or mitigate the spread of disease in affected areas,” noted FAO.

In 2015, FAO’s vaccination and treatment campaigns included more than 1.4 million livestock belonging to 77,118 households.

Recovery efforts severely hampered FAO estimates that households that lost small ruminants may need at least two years to return to pre-drought levels, while cattle-owning households may require double the recovery time.

It also noted that low animal body conditions also resulted in diminished terms of trade. In Somali Region, animals previously bartered for two bags of grain were routinely sold for only one at the height of the crisis.

Milk production is slowly rising, after falling dramatically in drought-prone and livestock-dependent regions such as Afar and Somali.

Above-normal levels of migration in search of pasture and water were also recorded. Providing access to water for the livestock of affected populations has remained a priority for the UN agency.

“These water points were a crucial lifeline for families during the long months of poor rainfall,” said FAO.

“So far, rehabilitated water points have benefited an estimated 125,480 livestock owned by 12,783 households.”

The agency has also appealed for an additional $2 million to rehabilitate water points and improve the drought resilience of communities.


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