New Drought looming in Southeastern Ethiopia likely to affect millions of livestock owners
Ethiopia is bracing for a new drought across significant swathes of livestock-dependent southeastern areas of the country, mere months after the worst drought in 50 years severely affected smallholder crop production and claimed hundreds of thousands of livestock nationwide.
Already, monitoring teams on the ground have observed deteriorating animal body conditions and market price instability with the price of grain increasing in response to livestock sector shocks in at least one region. A mission from the Ministry of Livestock and Fisheries recently reported that close to 10 percent of the livestock population in pastoralist areas of Oromia – the nation’s largest region – need urgent animal feed and other supplementary support.
Officials indicated that there is a critical water shortage for both livestock and humans, with water points in many communities almost completely dried up. Pasture and rangelands have also been affected and will worsen in the months ahead if the season does not improve significantly. Abnormal animal migrations were also observed, so too were the risks of cross-border animal disease outbreaks as a result of weakened herds and animal health support gaps. Borena Zone of Oromia Region, it was noted, was particularly at risk for a significant animal disease outbreak – 370 000 livestock currently require urgent emergency animal feed in Oromia alone.
Rainfall performance for the critical October to December rains, known across the southeastern areas of the country as deyr, hagaya or dadda , remain below normal according to the country’s National Meteorological Agency. The rains account for up to 45 percent of the total annual rainfall in some areas.