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European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations

Ethiopia: the worst drought in a generation

The Horn of Africa is caught in the grip of the most severe drought in decades, with more than 13 million people already affected. In addition, Russian’s war in Ukraine is adversely affecting the food situation, as the region depends highly on imports to meet its food needs.

In Ethiopia, the conflict in the Tigray region has dominated the news in the last 18 months. However, the country has not been immune to the severe drought, which has affected 8.1 million people, including about 2.5 million children.

The drought is causing water scarcity, food insecurity, a severe disruption to livelihoods. It is resulting in rising food prices, increasing malnutrition rates amongst children, and displacement of people searching for food and pastures. If not addressed, the drought may lead to famine-like conditions.

Drying or low-quality water sources also increase the risk of diseases. As these pictures from Ethiopia’s Oromia region demonstrate, the current drought is the worst seen in a generation. With a grim weather outlook for the March to May main rainy season, the region is likely heading towards the fourth consecutive seasonal failure.

EU humanitarian experts in Ethiopia visited Oromia’s Borena zone to assess the humanitarian situation of the people affected by drought in the southern part of Ethiopia. They helped provide the EU with the most recent information on needs and challenges. This year, the EU is providing €48 million in humanitarian assistance to support those affected by the drought.

View of a tree in a very dry desert landscape
Extreme drought in Oromia’s Borena zone, in southern Ethiopia. The drought is having a devastating impact on agro-pastoral communities that rely on their crops and livestock for survival and earn an income.
© European Union, 2022 (photographer: Silvya Bolliger)
Animal carcass lying in the desert
1.5 million livestock heads have been lost in southern Ethiopia already. The migration of people and livestock from drought-affected areas is straining already scarce resources in host communities. 285,000 people are displaced.
© European Union, 2022 (photographer: Silvya Bolliger)
Animal carcass lying in the desert
This woman lost all her livestock to the drought. Another Oromia resident had 300 livestock heads and is now left with 27. In Borena zone alone, 573,000 livestock heads have perished due to the depletion and subsequent exhaustion of pasture and water.
© European Union, 2022 (photographer: Silvya Bolliger)
Weakened animals under a tree
The effects of the drought are visible on the remaining livestock. When the rains come, it is expected that thousands of weakened animals will perish.
© European Union, 2022 (photographer: Silvya Bolliger)
Oromia women waiting for water to be trucked in.
These Oromia women are waiting for water to be trucked in. Women and girls walk up to 10 hours to fetch water. Some have to leave their house as early as 3 in the morning to wait for a water truck to arrive late in the afternoon or early evening.
© European Union, 2022 (photographer: Silvya Bolliger)

Publication date: 06/05/2022