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Drought-stricken Ethiopia needs $18.5 million

Drought-stricken southeast Ethiopia needs $18.5 million – UN agency

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) appealed today for $18.5 million to help farmers, herders and others suffering through a drought in south-eastern Ethiopia that has created severe food shortages with pre-famine conditions and widespread migrations of people and animals.

More than 1 million people in the country’s Somali region alone need immediate aid to stave off starvation as the crisis will probably worsen with the onset of the three-month dry season in January, officials at FAO headquarters in Rome said.

“Successive seasons of drought in the worst-affected areas have now eroded many households’ assets to the point of destitution,” said Anne M. Bauer, Director of the FAO Emergency Operations and Rehabilitation Division. “A range of appropriate emergency interventions need to be put in place as quickly as possible before the already alarming conditions become much worse.”

The drought has hit particularly hard in the Somali and Oromiya regions, where the impact of last autumn’s failed rainy season was intensified by the influx of large numbers of livestock from drought-affected areas in north-eastern Kenya and south-western Somalia.

Drought has devastated the economies of many pastoralist groups in East African countries this year, especially Ethiopia, Djibouti, Somalia and Kenya, leaving 11 million people at risk of food shortages.

FAO said funds are needed for emergency interventions to save the lives of the animals that are a key household asset for many families and will play a role in post-drought recovery. These interventions include vaccine supplies, vaccination equipment and animal feed as well as providing meat and animal products to vulnerable households.

To address destitute farmers’ need for locally available seed, FAO’s appeal calls for more than 14,000 tons of crop seeds to nearly 700,000 families in the coming year. About 6,000 tons of seeds are urgently needed for the planting season that just began.

FAO funds are also earmarked for the maintenance of canals and other irrigation structures, as well as for upgrading farmers’ water management skills so water is available for vegetable crops.

In addition, to prepare for the threat of the deadly bird flu making its way across Ethiopia’s borders, FAO officials are working with the Government to strengthen the African nation’s ability to monitor the disease and train field and laboratory personnel in diagnostic skills.

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