The UN World Food Programme (WFP) has appealed for urgent funding to avoid a major humanitarian crisis in drought-affected areas of Ethiopia.
The WFP, in its latest Ethiopia Drought Response Situation Report, said over 24 million people are projected to be affected by drought in the country in October, of which at least 9.9 million people need emergency food assistance, reports Xinhua news agency.
“Immediate and scaled-up assistance is critical to avoid a major humanitarian crisis in the drought-affected areas of Ethiopia and help communities become more resilient to extreme climate shocks,” the WFP said.
The WFP said it “urgently needs” $197 million to provide assistance over the next eight months, responding to the needs of $3.5 million of the most drought-affected people.
According to the WFP, severe shortages of water and pasture are devastating livelihoods, forcing families from their homes.
It said the Somali, Oromia, Sidama, and Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples (SNNP) regions in the south and southeastern parts of Ethiopia have been hit the hardest by the ongoing drought.
While the fifth failed rainy season is projected to take place between October and December this year, at least 3.5 million livestock have already perished and another 25 million are at risk, the WFP said.
“At the same time, 2.2 million children are already acutely malnourished due to the impact of drought — over 760,000 of these children are severely malnourished.”
The WFP is presently supporting families with a combination of emergency relief, nutrition support and resilience-building actions to save lives in the short term and build resilience in the long term.
It, however, noted that due to funding shortfalls, WFP is delivering food assistance to 2.4 million people in the Somali region, even though 3.3 million people are projected to be in need.
The WFP also said it aims to treat 143,000 malnourished children and mothers in the region with specialized nutritious foods.
In the Oromia and SNNP regions, the WFP is delivering specialized nutritious foods to 305,000 mothers and children to address acute malnutrition concerns and providing nutritious school meals to 133,000 children whose families have been affected by the drought, it said.