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At least 34 people have died from drought in Wag Hemra and North Gonder Zones,according to officials

BBC Amharic - Officials said at least 34 people have lost their lives due to drought in Wag Hemra and North Gonder Zones

October 3, 2023 (Meskerem 22, 2016 EC)

Disclaimer: This is a translation from BBC Amharic News. The translation is intended solely for information purposes.

As a result of the drought in Wag Hemra and North Gonder Zones of Amhara Region, at least 34 people have lost their lives according to zonal officials.

The zones’ Emergency Prevention and Food Security Offices told BBC that a drought has resulted from lack of rainfall over the last year which has caused 54,000 cattle to die in addition to the human deaths.

According to the North Gonder Zone Emergency Prevention and Food Security Office Director Selamyihun Mulat, of the 11 woredas in the zone, six have been exposed to drought, and harvested crops have been lost in 34,200 hectares of land.

Among the woredas in the zone exposed to the drought is Janamora in addition to Beyeda Telemt and West Telemt and East Telemt Woredas where expected rainfalls did not occur.

Of the kebeles in Janamora, there has been no rainfall in 13 of them. At the beginning of the month of Ginbot, there was no rain for harvested crops."

For this reason over 452,000 people require regular food assistance and 202,000 require emergency assistance according to Ato Selamyihun.

Several outbreaks have also been reported in connection with the drought including cholera and scabies. Medicine and provision of medical services has also become beyond the means of the zonal administration.

The Wag Hemra Zone Emergency Prevention and Food Security Office Coordinator Mihret Melaku on their end said that rainfall has been delayed or completely absent across all woredas in the zone.

According to the coordinator, particularly in the Sehala Seyemit Woreda rainfall was only documented between August 4 to 14, 2023 (Hamle 28 and Nehase 8, 2015 EC) across the 13 kebeles there.

As a result, over 8,013 hectares of crop have become damaged.

There were a large number of cattle in the area and the residents were partially animal breeders according to Ato Mihret, however due to the drought at least two people lost their lives, and over 1,236 sheep, goats, and cattle have died.

The drought has overtaken the Ziquala and Abergele Woredas of the zone. In addition to this, snowfall and flooding has destroyed crops in the Dahana Woreda.

For this reason, more than 123,000 people in the zone are in need of emergency food assistance.

Provision of support

According to the zonal officials, no significant assistance has been provided.

The zone had put together a taskforce to search for assistance according to North Gonder Zone official Selamyihun who said other than 1,500 quintals of corn no assistance has been provided

He said, "efforts were made to distribute the corn to 10,000 people but this was not enough".

The official warned for this reason, if emergency assistance cannot be provided the situation could worsen.

Until now, at least 32 people have lost their lives to hunger and outbreaks and calls have been made for assistance from regional and federal levels of government, and charity organizations.

In these areas, organizations that were providing assistance have suspended their services and current security challenges and displacement have worsened the problem according to the Wag Hemra Zone Emergency Prevention and Food Security Program Office Director Ato Mihret.

The areas were already experiencing food insecurity problems and they still had not recovered from the damages sustained during the northern war.

USAID and the WFP had suspended provision of food assistance at the beginning of last Sene 2015 EC (June 2023) citing misuse and appropriation of aid in the Tigray Region.

During the month of Nehase 2015 EC (August 2023) the WFP had shown indications that it would restart food assistance however it has still not done so.

USAID and WFP were providing the lion's share of aid assistance for Ethiopia so the suspension has jeopardized over 20 million Ethiopians and over 800,000 refugees. Ato Mihret mentioned speaking to charity organizations which operated in the area and it had been over two weeks since they surveyed the drought ridden areas, despite this no assistance has been provided.

As a result of the drought in the Sehala Seyemit Woreda, more than 1.2 million cattle have been displaced in search of pastures to graze.

The cattle have traveled to neighboring areas and due to lack of inoculation, theft and security problems may arise according to Ato Mihret.

The regional Emergency Prevention and Food Security Commission issued a statement today, on October 3, 2023 (Meskerem 22, 2016 EC) stating over one million people in the Tekezze basin area are in need of emergency assistance due to the lack of rainfall in Amhara Region.

The commission in its statement called for assistance from charity organizations.

Due to the security problem in the region and ethnic-based attacks in neighboring regions there has been widespread displacement, and due to the drought millions are in need of support.

Last month the region’s Emergency Prevention and Food Security Program Coordinating Commission told BBC there are over 6.7 million people in the region which require support.


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