Overcoming The Drought in Ethiopia

Photo: IOM/Muse Mohammed

Addis Ababa — As Ethiopia battles the lingering effects of 2015–2016’s El Niño-induced drought, poor seasonal rains from a year ago in the southern and southeastern parts of the country have brought new drought conditions to the region.

This has resulted in over 5.5 million Ethiopians requiring emergency food relief assistance in the past year. Across the country, some 7.9 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance.

Sareya has lived in Dolobay woreda, close to the Somali border, for the past four decades until a year ago when drought forced her to move to a spontaneous displacement settlement in the area. Photo: IOM/Muse Mohammed

In addition, well over eight million people do not have access to safe drinking water. Many boreholes and water points have dried up, causing people to travel further from their homes in order to find water.

Rural families have lost hundreds of animals, many of which served as a main source of food and income. The Somali Region has been one of the worst affected areas in Ethiopia.

IDPs construct their makeshift shelter home in the Gode IDP settlement in the Somali Region. Several people living within the camp use USAID donated tarpaulin sheets in order to protect their homes against the weather, especially during the rainy season. Photo: IOM/Muse Mohammed

Sareya has been living in Dolobay woreda, close to the Somali border, for the past four decades. Just over a year ago, the drought forced her to move into a newly established spontaneous displacement settlement in the area, and she has been residing within the camp for the last 13 months due to the drought.

Life in the makeshift settlement has been hard for her, as she has had to survive on humanitarian aid; for example, the only food she has to eat is the cereal distributed in the camp. But even the cereals often were not enough for her family, as Sareya tragically lost her son to starvation nearly a year ago.

In addition to the water, sanitation and hygiene support, IOM also provides essential live-saving items, such as non-food items including tarps, cooking sets, and other raw materials necessary to construct stable shelters to displaced people in Ethiopia’s Somali Region. Photo: IOM/Muse Mohammed

Sareya, like many women, has to travel extremely far to find water. Some days, she spends most of her day searching for water, which is often not even clean and safe enough for drinking. Clean water is not the only thing that Sareya had difficulties accessing — she also had to walk far distances to reach the nearest private area to defecate, as there were no sanitation facilities in the settlement.

IOM staff work on constructing latrines for drought-affected IDPs. Photo: IOM/Muse Mohammed

Through USAID support, IOM, the UN Migration Agency, provided water, sanitation and hygiene assistance from May to August 2018 in the spontaneous settlement where Sareya is living. IOM constructed sanitation facilities in the settlement, like latrines (color-coded, gender-segregated and with hand washing facilities), cutting down the distance that Sareya had to walk to use one.

IOM staff carry out a distribution of home-made water filter WASH buckets, as well as conduct a training on how to properly use them and set them up utilizing locally available materials. Photo: IOM/Muse Mohammed

IOM also provided Sareya with a simple self-made water filter to help her purify water for drinking and cooking. The filter consists of layers of sand, gravel and charcoal and two buckets. She is hopeful that the bucket filter will help prevent her family from getting sick from waterborne diseases, which is something she had been worried about. Sareya and her family can easily replace the materials used in the filter locally. IOM trained them on how to put it together themselves.

Women gather in celebration for receiving USAID donated WASH buckets in a makeshift IDP settlement in Dolow Bay. Photo: IOM/Muse Mohammed