The weekend visit by the heads of WFP, FAO and IFAD was aimed at addressing the root causes of the worst drought and improving communities’ ability to prepare for future shocks.
By Elias Meseret (AFP) |
DANAN, Ethiopia (AP) — Men, women and children in this remote region of Ethiopia scramble to receive food aid and feed their rail-thin cattle as a huge cloud of dust rises into a sky that hasn’t delivered enough rain for the past three years.
The mass feeding program, managed by aid groups in this sun-scorched district, is the last attempt to save the lives of humans and animals until the rains hopefully materialize in mid-September.
More than eight million people in drought-hit southeastern and southern Ethiopia are in need of emergency food assistance, officials said as the heads of the World Food Program, Food and Agriculture Organization and International Fund for Agricultural Development made a rare joint visit over the weekend.
Despite economic growth in the past decade that has made Ethiopia one of Africa’s fastest-developing countries, rural areas are suffering as the nation faces its worst drought in years. This barren district called Danan, populated mostly by ethnic Somalis, has been historically neglected and is home to a rebel movement that seeks secession.
“This particular year is more intense due to the fact that it’s the third for fourth year that the drought repeats itself in this region,” Jose Graziano da Silva, director-general of the Food and Agriculture Organization, told The Associated Press. “In Africa, Ethiopia was best-prepared to face the impacts of climate change. But after having three successive years of El Nino, the country is unable to deal with it alone.”
The situation has been overshadowed by drought in neighboring Somalia and the famine that was briefly declared earlier this year in parts of neighboring South Sudan, aid workers say. Over 27 million people in East Africa are in need of food assistance, largely because of drought, according to FAO.