Ethiopia hit by the worst drought in decades

Patrik Ekløf
Norwegian Refugee Council
Published on December 18,2015

Breast feeding children in settlement for people displaced by the drought in Asabuli village in Sitti Zone, north-eastern Ethiopia. Photo: NRC/Patrik Ekløf.
Breast feeding children in settlement for people displaced by the drought in Asabuli village in Sitti Zone, north-eastern Ethiopia. Photo: NRC/Patrik Ekløf.

“The longer it takes for the humanitarian assistance to reach the people in need, the larger the impact of the drought will have in the worst affected areas of Ethiopia and the region”, says Deputy Secretary General Geir Olav Lisle. He has just returned from a visit to the Sitti Zone in the north-eastern part of the Somali region of Ethiopia.

Key issues:

10.2 million people in need of humanitarian food assistance
435,000 children severely acute malnourished
1.4 billion USD humanitarian appeal for 2016 launched

The visit to one of the worst drought affected areas of Ethiopia has taken us to Asbuli, four hours by car on poor gravel roads and sand tracks from the city of Dire Dawa in the north eastern part of the Somali region.

In a good year the large open plains along the road should be covered in grass, providing grazing for large herds of goats, sheep and cattle, the key livelihood for the pastoralists in this area. But this is not a good year. The plains are extremely dry and look more like a moon landscape. Every other kilometre we pass dead animals and empty dwellings.

People have been forced to abandon these areas. Women and children have taken the families’ few belongings and walked to the nearest villages. The men have started long walks to other areas of Ethiopia, Djibouti or Somalia in the hope of finding better grazing conditions there for their remaining livestock.

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