As climate change and rising global temperatures cause consistently drier and hotter seasons, the regions of the world with the least resources are often the ones hit the hardest.
This is the case in the Somali Region of Ethiopia where a historically severe drought is taking place. Somali Region President Mustafa Mohammed Omer told the United Nations that, “This is the worst drought in 40 years.”
The drought has brought many challenges for the people of Ethiopia but one of the most problematic has been the effect on livestock. Approximately one million livestock have died across the Somali Region with more deaths expected, according to a report from Omer’s office cited by the U.N.
Ethiopia: Worsening drought conditions have left 7 million people in dire need of food assistance.— United Nations (@UN) March 14, 2022
Families have been forced from their homes, hundreds of thousands of livestock have died & food production has been severely hampered.https://t.co/BnPlaDMNAz via @UNOCHA pic.twitter.com/jluHeOl3M2
“The situation is dire. Responding to the increasing needs requires huge resources,” Omer told the U.N., adding that the response to the drought will hinder other initiatives and community building efforts already taking place in the region.
The United Nations reported that the drought has partly been caused by three consecutive below-average rainy seasons, and that approximately 3.5 million people have been affected by the drought.
Without water to sustain local livestock, which, according to the U.N., serve as an essential means of survival for the majority of the people in the region, many have been forced to leave their homes in search of areas with more access to aid and resources.
The U.N. interviewed one Somali Region resident who went through that exact experience. 60-year-old Zeineba told the U.N. she had to abandon her village for the sake of her family and livelihood, saying, “My livestock perished from lack of water and pasture, and could not survive the harsh drought anymore. It is painful.”
The upcoming rainy season in Ethiopia, which occurs around June to September, may bring temporary relief for some, but flooding may also follow and there’s no guarantee enough rain will fall to prevent another historic drought.
The United Nations reported it is actively working to address the issue. U.N. Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Ethiopia Catherine Sozi said, “Preparations to enable and support a timely response to the ongoing dire humanitarian situation, build resilience, and adapt to the climate crisis are critical for alleviating the impact of the drought on millions of people in the region.”
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