The pastoral and agro-pastoral community of Southern Ethiopia is affected by drought caused by La Nina.
According to an assessment report of the government run Borena taskforce poor performance of the short term rainy season from September to November 2010 in all 13 districts of the Borena Administrative Zone in Oromia Regional State is the main cause of the drought.
According to the same source, during the 2010 short term rainy season, on average there were only two rainy days in lowland areas and three to four rainy days in highland areas of the zone. Although the low rainfall in the short term rainy season is said to be the main cause of the drought, the high intensity rainfall that occurred in the previous main rainy season from March – May has contributed in worsening the situation.
The impact of the later cause has been more significant in creating water scarcity as flooding from it has damaged several of the water resource structures.
Communities’ livelihood destabilized As a result of water shortages, pasture resources that the pastoralists and agro-pastoralists are dependent on for their livelihood are diminishing. Food insecurity issue has also become the most pressing challenge in most of the districts.
According to current zonal assessment report, 61,489 people are estimated to be in need of emergency food relief from January 2011 to June 2011. Following shortage of clean drinking water, evidences of disease outbreak, growing student drop outs, and in worst affected areas, closure of schools is emerging.
Men are migrating to long distances, ranging from 50 to 80km, with their livestock to look for water and pasture. The impact of the drought has been more extensive on women as they daily travel long distances to get very limited amount of water for household, calves and physically weak livestock consumptions.
Miscarriages because of the drought
Women in Magole Kebele Administration (KA) in Dillo district, for example, travel 8-12 km per day to collect only a jerry-can of water with capacity of 20 liter (the only amount the water takers allocated by community water takers committee for a household including for livestock).
“I gave birth to a child just a month ago. In the Borena culture, a woman is expected to rest at least for two months after she gives birth. I couldn’t do this because I have to spend more time looking for water,” says Rufo Kenchero, a 37 years old woman of Dillo district.
She adds that because of more workload on women to cope with the drought, some women in her community are facing miscarriages after pregnancy.
DCA intervenes to reduce the impact According to Mr. Gemechis Gudina, DCA-Ethiopia’s Disaster Risk Reduction Projects Manager, in most districts of the zone, the drought and its impacts have gone beyond the capacities of the local communities. Mr. Gemechis also explained DCA-Ethiopia’s recent response to contribute in mitigating this humanitarian crisis.
DCA has initiated the formation and implementation of Emergency Response and Recovery Project in partnership with a local non-governmental organization(NGO), Action for Development(AFD). The project funded by European Commission for Humanitarian Aid & Civil Protection (ECHO) and DCA’s material aid grant was launched at the end of February 2011.
Its objective is to protect the lives of vulnerable families in targeted pastoralist communities through water and hygiene provision and livelihoods protection, including enhanced disaster coping capacity.
What we do
■Water supply to 32,000 drought affected persons in 3 targeted districts of Borena zone.
■Cash or food for work for 14,690 persons in drought-affected pastoralist communities.
■To date, DCA with its implementing partner, AFD has trucked 823 m3 water to the targeted beneficiaries in drought-hit areas in Miyo and Dugda Dawa, purchased and distributed household water storage facilities and water purification chemicals to decrease water contamination.
■DCA and the local implementing partner, Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus-South Ethiopia Synod - Development and Social Service Commission (EECMY-SES-DASSC) is implementing the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) funded rehabilitation project of seven flood-damaged water sources.
Information source: Mr.Gemechis Gudian, DCA-Ethiopia’s Disaster Risk Reduction Projects’ Manager.
By Fikeret Abebe, Communication Officer