Ethiopia Drought: Schools Closing, Livestock Dying, and Wells Drying Up

An emergency food aid distribution in the Amhara Region of Ethiopia. Save the Children, in partnership with the Organization for Rehabilitation and Development in Amhara (ORDA), is leading the distribution of the food aid for this site. Photo: Abate Damte/Save the Children

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Stuart Sia 475.988.7129

Claire Garmirian 203.209.8545

Fairfield, Conn. (December 18, 2015) — As a result of the severe drought in Ethiopia, thousands of women and children are currently spending up to six hours a day fetching clean water, with many wells now drying up and up to 1.2 million children missing out on education as schools are closed in the worst affected areas.

"This is the worst drought in Ethiopia for 50 years, and it is having a terrible impact on the lives of children and their families across affected parts of the country," warns John Graham, Save the Children's Country Director in Ethiopia.

The desperate choices many families are now being forced to make include slaughtering their oxen needed to plow the fields during the next rainy season for food, or eating the seeds which are needed to plant in February.

In other areas, schools are now closed, and children are missing out on their education and with busy mothers walking hours for water, often without care. The severity of the current drought is devastating communities and undermining the tremendous progress that the country has made in development over the last decade; we cannot stand by and watch that progress be lost.

Drought conditions, triggered by El Niño, began in June of this year in remote northeastern areas of the country, as well as many parts of Somalia and Somaliland, and have spread rapidly to the more populous highlands.

The Government of Ethiopia recently unveiled a comprehensive plan to respond to the immediate needs of those most affected, with the international community pledging $300 million so far. However, an estimated $1.4 billion for emergency food, clean water, and nutrition and health is needed to help save the lives of the most vulnerable.

"Humanitarian aid is coming in from the international community, but still too slowly, and the Ethiopian government has already committed an unprecedented $297 million, as well as distributing their own limited food stocks, but this is still a race against time to meet the needs,"Graham says.

Save the Children is one of the main agencies supporting government efforts, and has already delivered emergency food aid to over 250,000 people, and treated over 4,000 cases of child malnutrition since the drought started.

The agency is working in over 60 of the worst-affected districts in Ethiopia, providing food, water, medicine and crucial support to families who have lost their incomes, with an immediate focus on increasing food aid, treating child malnutrition, water trucking, intervening to save livestock and crops where possible, and supporting families to keep their children in school through the crisis.

Save the Children gives children in the United States and around the world a healthy start, the opportunity to learn and protection from harm. We invest in childhood — every day, in times of crisis and for our future. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

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