Feb 2016

Ticking clock on Ethiopia drought

Posted by Francesca Rutherford on Tuesday 23rd February 2016

The international community has just three weeks to provide $245 million in emergency food aid to help prevent a potentially catastrophic escalation in severe acute malnutrition cases in drought-afflicted parts of Ethiopia from the end of April when the main 'hungry season' begins. This drought is affecting communities throughout the Horn of Africa, from Somalia to Eritrea, Save the Children says.

Ethiopia continues to endure the devastating impacts of its worst drought in 50 years, which has already left a staggering 10.2 million people in need of emergency food assistance, including 6 million children. More than 400,000 children will need urgent supplementary feeding for severe acute malnutrition this year - a condition that can lead to physical stunting and mental development delays. Additionally, at least 1.7 million children and pregnant and lactating women are suffering from moderate acute malnutrition, and are at risk of sliding into further crisis if the food pipeline breaks down.

"In 2016, when we have all the right systems in place to prevent a massive humanitarian disaster, it would be absolutely unforgivable if the international community failed to act. We all said 'never again' after the tragedy of 1984, and again after the famine in Somalia in 2011 – so now is crunch time and we must all step up before it's too late."

Despite early warnings, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's call for urgent support has not been met. Currently, the combined Ethiopian Government and UN Appeal for $1.4 billion to combat the impact of the drought remains less than half funded.

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