The Ethiopian government today announced that the number of Ethiopians who desperately need emergency food aid because of drought will rise to 10.2 million in January.
The drought, blamed on the El Nino weather phenomenon caused by Pacific Ocean warming, was the worst in 50 years, and more than half of them are children, the UN children’s charity Save the Children says.
The UN World Food Program (WFP) is undertaking school feeding program in 916 schools located in the drought affected areas.
In November, the UN put the number of Ethiopians threatened by hunger at 8.2 million.
Early estimates indicate that at least 15 million people will face severe acute food insecurity and require assistance in 2016, making Ethiopia the country with the largest acutely food insecure population in the world.
The government has launched a national effort by allocating nearly $200m to deal with the food crisis. However, with 10.2 million people – or a tenth of the population – already affected by food shortages and with the expectation that the drought will continue until December next year, Save the Children said an “emergency response” amounting to $1.4 billion will be required to deal with the crisis.
“An estimated 400,000 children are now also at risk of developing severe acute malnutrition in 2016, which can lead to stunting, and physical and mental delays in development,” it said in a statement.
Confirming the figure to the BBC Focus on Africa radio interview, Getachew Reda, a government minister and aide to the prime minister, said: “We are trying to make sure that no-one is affected to such an extent that they lose their lives.”
However, significant populations in northern Somali region and southern Afar are already in Emergency (IPC Phase 4), meaning that they are unable to access adequate food for survival and face an increased risk of malnutrition and mortality. Sustained, large-scale, multi-sectoral emergency assistance is required immediately to save lives and livelihoods.
The 1984 famine in Ethiopia led to hundreds of thousands of people starving to death.
Joint Government and Partners’ Revised Humanitarian Requirement
|Dire Dawa||387,000||28,500||7.7 %|
|* Source: dppc.gov.et [PDF]|