More than 10 million people in Ethiopia are in need of emergency food assistance because of extreme drought caused by the global weather phenomenon El Nino, according to revised figures released by the Ethiopian government last week.
“Right now families in drought-stricken areas are about to exhaust all available resources to cope with the scarcity of food and water. There is no time to lose in ensuring that they get the assistance they need before it is too late.
“During the 2002 El Nino year, much of the required food aid was not delivered too late to prevent significantly increased malnutrition rates.
“This is a critical moment for the Ethiopian people and for the international community to step up,” said Garth Van’t Hul, CARE International’s country director in Ethiopia.
“We are also greatly concerned by the disproportionate burden this crisis is placing on women and girls, who are largely responsible for ensuring families have food and water. Women we talk to in affected areas are currently spending all day everyday walking to get drinking water or collecting and selling firewood to have some money for food,” Mr Van’t Hul said.
CARE International supports the Ethiopian government’s effort to provide relief, with food distributions to more than 360,000 people, assisting over 100,000 children and mothers affected by malnutrition and helping 41,000 people access safe drinking water.
Existing efforts are not sufficient, however, to cover the growing needs. The Ethiopian government has requested more international assistance, but huge funding gaps remain.
CARE also supports vulnerable communities to strengthen their resilience to future crises through support for livelihoods, drought resistant seed distribution, savings and loans groups and promoting gender equity.
“As a result of climate change, extreme weather events such as the current drought in Ethiopia will occur more frequently, making life even more difficult for the world’s poorest. We have to do everything we can to prevent the loss of life but providing emergency relief will not be enough,” Mr Van’t Hul said.