Drought in Ethiopia

Galgalo and his family have been struggling through the drought in Ethiopia (c) Erna Mentesnot Hintz/HelpAge International

(c) Erna Mentesnot Hintz/HelpAge International

Galgalo and his family have been struggling through the drought in Ethiopia

Ethiopia has been enduring its worst drought in decades. The adverse weather conditions brought about by El Niño has led to two consecutive rainy seasons failing.

Harvests have yielded little and water sources dried up. Subsequent food shortages are putting millions of Ethiopians at risk of malnutrition, while poor access to water is leading to hygiene and sanitation issues - a grave threat to public health. 

 

The drought is said to be Ethiopia's worst in 50 years (c) Erna Mentesnot Hintz/HelpAge International

(c) Erna Mentesnot Hintz/HelpAge International

The drought is said to be Ethiopia's worst in 50 years

Older people's needs

Large swathes of Ethiopia's older population already live amid chronic poverty, and the drought has only exacerbated these conditions. It has become much harder to bring in a reliable income. Markets are poorly stocked, leaving older men and women having to cover greater distances to find food, firewood and water for them and their families. With entire communities affected, traditional support networks are unable to cope. Older people are left isolated and in need, causing great emotional distress.

"In the past, the community helped out poor and weak older people. Yet these days, everyone is in the same condition and does neither have the ability nor the will to help and share anything. If the drought persists, I fear I will die hungry and thirsty," said Emayu, 60. 

"Life has always been difficult in this area. But this is the worst I have experienced in a long time."

Emayu makes a tiny living selling firewood chopped from her barren lands (c) Erna Mentesnot Hintz/HelpAge International

(c) Erna Mentesnot Hintz/HelpAge International

Emayu makes a tiny living selling firewood chopped from her barren lands

What is HelpAge doing?

With funding from the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA), we are providing help to 17,000 vulnerable households in Ethiopia's Oromia region. 

Our work will focus on three key areas:

  • Livelihoods: supporting older people who have struggled to bring in an income since the drought took hold, we are providing households with goats, sheep, farming tools and seeds, as well as training to help them use these assets. 
  • Health: we are giving vulnerable and malnourished older men and women food rations to boost their nutrition and health. 
  • Water: we are getting failed water sources up and working again, as well as promoting purification and hygiene to vulnerable households.

One older man who we have provided livestock to has been grateful of the impact it has had: “Before, the days were long, and I had nothing to do. I felt like a burden to my family as we endured the tormenting drought. With my goats, I feel needed and like a contributor to my household in my old age. This makes me happy and confident."

Our interventions, which are being delivered in collaboration with local NGOs the Rift Valley Women and Children Development Organization and Sewasewe Genet Charity and Development Organization, will reach more than 87,000 people.

Please support our work helping the most vulnerable older men and women and their families in Ethiopia by giving today. If you live in the UK, you can donate via Age International.

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