Ayan's Story

Ethiopia drought case study

Ayan with her young daughter. Photo: Stuart Sia/Save the Children


Ayan*, 41, once ran a bustling household with about 170 sheep, goats, cows and camels, but now the drought that has ravaged Ethiopia for months has taken its toll on her family. Her livestock has dwindled down to just 17 animals, and she was forced to leave her home with her six young children in order to provide food and water for them.

"We were in a good situation before this drought," Ayan said. "Previously when there was drought we used to move and manage our livestock by finding greener pasture. But [now] there is nowhere to go."

The drought, caused by El Niño, began in June and is considered the worst drought Ethiopia has seen in 50 years. Thousands of women and children are forced to walk hours every day just to find clean water.

Before the drought Ayan relied on her livestock for food and milk and was able to sell what she didn't need at the market, to make money for other things her family needed like clothing and medicine. Now, with her livestock gone, she has to rely on the aid of others. Ayan and her children have moved into a Save the Children-run displaced persons camp where they are provided with food, water and medicine. The children are given educational materials so they can continue their schooling. Ayan is grateful for what she has received, but knows not everyone is as lucky as she is.

"A lot of things have been provided to us by Save the Children and the government, but it will not reach all the needs of the people."

Save the Children is working in over 70% of the worst-affected districts in Ethiopia, providing food, water, medicine and support to families who have lost their incomes to the drought.

*Name changed for protection

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