Ethiopia: Drought emergency spirals amid major aid shortages

ESAT News (March 6, 2017)

A woman holds her child as they wait to receive supplementary food at a distribution centre in Gelcha village, one of the drought stricken areas of Oromia region, in Ethiopia, April 28, 2016. REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri

Millions of drought-stricken Ethiopians needing food, water and emergency medical care are not receiving it due to funding shortages, the United Nations said, warning the crisis will worsen if spring rains fail as predicted, Thomson Reuters Foundation reported quoting UN sources.

Some 5.6 million people need food aid in the Horn of Africa nation, which has been hit by a series of back-to-back droughts.

“The needs relating to the developing emergency exceed resources available to date,” Reuters quoted the U.N.’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) as saying on Monday.

“Each day without food assistance exponentially increases human suffering, lengthens the recovery period of affected people, puts increasing pressure on humanitarian and development systems, and the interventions become that much more expensive.”

It is three times cheaper to treat children who are moderately, rather than severely, malnourished, it said.

But it takes at least four months to procure, ship and deliver emergency supplies to Ethiopia, it said.

The U.N. appealed for more than $900 million in aid for Ethiopia in January.

Almost 13 million people across the Horn of Africa need aid due to drought, including 2.7 million in Kenya, 2.9 million people in Somalia and 1.6 million people in Uganda, OCHA said.