NAIROBI (Kenya) — Children walk among the carcasses of dead animals from hunger and exhaustion. This is a stark reminder of the drought that threatens millions of people in the Horn of Africa.
Somalia, Kenya and Ethiopia are raising alarms about the latest climate shock in a region populated by herders trying to preserve their animals and keep them alive.
People in Ethiopia’s Somali region have witnessed the failures of three consecutive rainy seasons. Although droughts have come and gone over the years, Zaynab Wali, a resident of Somalia, told a UN children’s agency team that she and her seven children had never experienced one like it.
She said that the government had distributed food and fodder in the past five years of drought. We don’t have enough food to feed our family this time.
UNICEF Tuesday said that Ethiopia will need humanitarian assistance by mid-March for more than 6 million people. In Somalia, more than 7,000,000 people are in urgent need of humanitarian aid, according to the Somali NGO Consortium. They appealed to international donors for more.
UNICEF’s Hafsa in Ethiopia’s Somali region said that she has already lost 25 sheep and goats just one month into the dry season. “I also lost four camels. She said that there is no pasture. There isn’t enough food for her family, which includes her six children.
UNICEF estimates that over 150,000 children from such areas in Ethiopia have left school to fetch water or do other chores.
A young boy helped a donkey that was once vital for transporting cargo but had lost its ability to walk.
“We have animals that are dying at an incredible rate, which is increasing each month,” Gianfranco Rodtigliano, UNICEF’s Ethiopia representative told a U.N. briefing via videoconference in Geneva on Tuesday.
He stated that some water sources were already dry or drying out and suggested the need to drill boreholes, rehabilitate wells and obtain water for health and nutrition.
Rotigliano stated that the conflict between the Ethiopian government and fighters from the northern Tigray region of the country has not had an impact on UNICEF’s response to drought-stricken regions hundreds of kilometers (miles).