4 Ways to Help Turn the Tide on Ethiopia’s Drought


By Dina Esposito


Fatuma used shoat (sheep and goat) fattening techniques to increase the value of her livestock./Sarah Berry, USAID

On a trip to southern Ethiopia, a region facing a historic drought made worse by El Niño, I met an impressively self-reliant woman named Fatuma.

Although the drought has outpaced the coping capacity of millions of poor households who have no choice but to seek food assistance for survival, families like Fatuma’s are managing to withstand the crisis. With USAID’s help, they diversified how they make a living — avoiding complete dependence on rain-fed agriculture.

However, our work helping families reduce reliance on food assistance is not enough to stop this crisis. More than 10 million people need relief food assistance — three times the number in need last year; 6 million need help accessing water and sanitation and hygiene services; and 2.6 million suffer from moderate to severe malnutrition and need treatment.

Here are four ways we can turn the tide on Ethiopia’s drought:


Beneficiaries leave a relief food distribution site with their food rations. Because of the drought, many families in Ethiopia are dependent on this assistance to put food on the table./Sarah Berry, USAID

  1. Continued action and focus

Donors must do more to respond to the drought to protect development gains and prevent a full-blown humanitarian catastrophe. The United States has already provided more than a half a billion dollars for the drought emergency in Ethiopia and will soon provide additional support. We continue to sound the alarm for other stakeholders to do more.

If the response on the ground does not rapidly improve, we can expect the staggeringly large number of people in need to grow, along with potential for loss of life. Development gains will slip, and the road to recovery will be long.

  1. Advanced planning

The worst of the drought may lie ahead. The summer, traditionally the “lean season,” is quickly approaching, which means the window to get aid in place is rapidly closing. On my trip, I talked to people waiting in line at a USAID-funded relief food distribution site. All were farmers who had no harvest the last two years because of failed rains. All were dependent on food distributions for survival, as were most of their neighbors.

While they thanked the United States for food support, they were eager to get back to growing their own crops. They urgently need seeds to plant before the June rains, now just weeks away. We can’t control the rains, but we can prepare for them. We must get seeds into the hands of more than 1.7 million farmers to help them return to self-reliance.

  1. More humanitarians

International humanitarian and development organizations need to mobilize more people so we can effectively deliver assistance to those in need. Despite substantial efforts, food assistance is not reaching enough people fast enough; as a result, health centers are becoming overwhelmed by the spike in numbers of malnourished children requiring treatment.

I went to a health post with one worker trying to serve 88 mothers with malnourished children. Each child was registered, examined, treated with ready-to-use therapeutic food, weighed and measured — all by one health worker. The families had been waiting for hours by the time we arrived at 4 p.m., and prospects for the health worker to reach them all before nightfall looked dim.

  1. Additional support from Ethiopian government

The Ethiopian government has already invested hundreds of millions of dollars in the response and will need to do more before this is over. The government can help the international community respond by reducing bureaucratic red tape and adjusting protocols to allow for more rapid distributions of food and other supplies. It must also expand the number of people providing aid directly to those in need and accept more help from international agencies to increase staffing and improve efficiencies in the response chain.

While these steps will help respond to the crisis now, we also need to think about the long-term plan. As a member of USAID’s Resilience Leadership Council, formed in 2012 to assess what we can do differently to reduce the impact of ever more frequent climate shocks in highly vulnerable regions like the Horn of Africa, I was eager to see what “resilience building” looked like on the ground.


Fatuma stands with her two sons in front of the new home she built with her diversified income. / Sarah Berry, USAID

The success of families like Fatuma’s is in part due to USAID’s Graduation with Resilience to Achieve Sustainable Development program. It targets households depending on food assistance from the USAID-supported and Ethiopia Government-led Productive Safety Net Program and helps them “graduate,” or in other words build enough assets so that they are self reliant.

Organizing remote households into community associations, the program offers them training in on- and off-farm income generating activities and expands their access to financial products and services. It connects them to commercial markets so that they can access better seeds, fertilizer and credit.

Besides growing crops in a garden plot, Fatuma became self reliant by earning money from running a small shop and tea stand, renting a donkey cart to neighbors, and using shoat (sheep and goat) fattening techniques to produce more milk and meat and sell livestock at a higher price.


Dr. Fikadu, a local agro-dealer, introduces new seed varieties and situates his shop near farmers who need to make smaller-scale seed purchases. / Sarah Berry, USAID

The community associations also run a collective savings account from which members can draw funds for emergencies — giving them confidence that they can handle a crisis without outside help.

One member told me, “We will take care of each other and weather the storm until the next harvest.

Although more than half of participating households (over 33,000) have graduated from needing food assistance in the first four years, which is impressive progress, this does not come near the scale of food insecurity. Almost 8 million Ethiopians receive regular food rations through the Productive Safety Net Program.

USAID’s resilience programs strategically link protracted food assistance responses to development efforts in order to reduce the need for humanitarian assistance. We are building an evidence base of what works, but the frequency and scale of shocks we face may outpace our success.

I return from Ethiopia convinced that we must work with donors and host governments to accelerate and scale up our efforts to build resilience, so that we can address the underlying risks that keep marginalized communities entrenched in a cycle of food insecurity and poverty.

About the Author

Dina Esposito is the Acting Deputy Assistant Administrator for Democracy, Conflict, and Humanitarian Assistance at USAID.


ኢትዮጵያን ከድርቅ ለመታደግ የሚያስችሉ 4 መንገዶች

ታሪካዊ ድርቅ ወደአጋጠመው የደቡብ ኢትዮጵያ ባድረኩት ጎዞ፤ በአስደናቂ ሁኔታ ራሷን የቻለች ፋጡማ የምትባል ሴት አግኝቼ ነበር፡፡

ምንም እንኳ ድርቁ በሚሊዮን የሚቆጠሩ ቤተሰቦች መቋቋም ከሚችሉት በላይ ሆኖባቸው ለመኖር የሚያስችላቸውን የምግብ ዕርዳታ እንዲቀበሉ ቢያስገድዳቸውም፤ እንደፋጡማ ያሉ ቤተሰቦች ግን ቀውሱን ለመቋቋም ችለዋል፡፡ የአሜሪካ ዓለም አቀፍ የልማት ኤጀንሲ (ዩ ኤስ ኤ አይ ዲ) ባደረገላቸው ድጋፍ ፤ በዝናብ ላይ ጥገኛ ከሆነ ግብርና ተላቀው ሕይወታቸውን  በተለያዩ መንግዶች መምራት ችላዋል፡፡

ይህም ሆኖ ቤተሰቦች በምግብ ዕርደታ ላይ ያላቸውን ጥገኝነት እንዲቀንሱ  እያደረግን ያለው ድጋፍ  ቀውሱን ለመቋቋም በቂ አይደለም ፡፡ አምና ከነበረው ሶስት እጥፍ የሆነ 10 ሚሊዮን ሕዝብ አስቸኳይ የምግብ ዕርዳታ ይፈልጋል፡፡ 6 ሚሊዮን ሕዝብ የውኃ፣ የንጽህናና የጽዳት አገልግሎት አቅርቦት ይፈልጋል፡፡ 2.6 ሚሊዮን ሕዝብ ከመካከለኛ እስከ ከፍተኛ በሚደርስ የተመጣጠና ምግብ እጥረት እየተቸገረ ሲሆን ህክምናም ይፈልጋል ፡፡

 የኢትዮጵያን የድርቅ ማዕበል ለመታደግ የሚያስችሉ 4 መንገዶች ቀጥለው ቀርበዋል፡፡

 1.ቀጣይነት ያለው ድርጊትና ትኩረት

የተገኘውን ልማት ለመጠበቅና ከፍተኛ ሰብዓዊ አደጋ እንዳይከሰት ለማድረግ፤ ለጋሾች ድርቁን ለመቋቋም የሚያደርጉትን ድጋፍ አጠናክረው መቀጠል ይኖርባቸዋል፡፡ አሜሪካ እስከአሁን ድረስ ከግማሽ ቢሊዮን ዶላር በላይ የአስቸኳይ የድርቅ ድጋፍ ያደረገች ሲሆን፤ በቅርቡም ተጨማሪ ድጋፍ ታደርጋለች፡፡ ሌሎች ለጋሾችም የበለጠ ድጋፍ እንዲያደርጉ የዘውትር ጥሪያችንን ማድረግ እንቀጥላልን፡፡

በተጨባጭ እየተሰጠ ያለው ምላሽ በፈጣን ሁኔታ ካልተሻሻለ፤ የምግብ ዕርዳታ የሚፈልገው ሕዝብ ቁጥር ይበልጥ ሊጨምርና ሕይወትም ሊጥፋ እንደሚችል ሊታወቅ ይገባል፡፡ የተገኘው ልማት ከተቀለበሰ መልሶ ለማገገም ረጅም መንገዱ መጓዝን ይጠይቃል፡፡

  1. ቀድሞ ማቀድ

ቀጣዩ ጊዜ አስከፊው ድርቅ የሚከሰትበት ሊሆን ይችላል፡፡ የበጋው ወቅት እየተቃረበ ነው፡፡ ይህም ማለት እርዳታ ለማቅረብ ያለው ጊዜ በፈጣን ሁኔታ እያበቃ ነው ፡፡ በጉዞዬ በዩ ኤስ ኤ አይ ዲ በሚደገፍ የዕርዳታ ምግብ ማደያ ጣብያ የተሰለፉ ሰዎችን አነጋግሬ ነበር፡፡ ሁሉም ባለፉት ሁለት አመታት ዝናብ ባለመዝነቡ ምክንያት ምርት ማምረት ያልቻሉ ገበሬዎች ነበሩ፡፡ ሁሉም ገበሬዎች እንደጎረቤቶቻቸው ሁሉ በዕርዳታ ምግብ ላይ ጥገኞች ናቸው፡፡

አሜሪካ ላደረገችው የዕርዳታ ምግብ ድጋፍ ምስጋና ቢቸሩም ፤የራሳቸውን ምርት ለማምረት ግን በእጅጉ ጓጉተዋል፡፡ የሰኔ ወር ዝናብ ከመጀመሩ በፊት በአስቸኳይ ዘር እንዲቀርብላቸው ይፈልጋሉ፡፡ ዝናቡን መቆጣጠር አንችልም ፤ ዝግጅት ማድረግ ግን እንችላለን፡፡ 1.7 ሚሊዮን ገበሬዎች ራሳቸውን እንዲችሉ ለማድረግ በአስአቸኳይ ዘር ልናቀርብላቸው ይገባል፡፡

  1. ድጋፍ የሚያደርግ ተጨማሪ የሰው ኃይል

ተገቢውን ዕርዳታ ውጤታማ በሆነ መንገድ ለተረጂዎች ለማድረስ ፤ ዓለም አቀፍ ለጋሾችና የልማት ድርጅቶች በቂ የሰው ኃይል ማንቀሳቀስ ይገባቸዋል፡፡ ሰፊ ጥረት እየተደረገ ቢሆንም፤ ለተረጂው ወገን በፈጣን ሁኔታ እርዳታ እየደረሰ አይደለም፡፡ በዚህም የተነሳ የጤና ማዕከላት በተመጣጠነ ምግብ እጥረት በተጎዱ ሕጻናት ተጨናንቀዋል፡፡

አንድ የጤና ባለሙያ በተመጣጠነ ምግብ እጥረት የተገዱ ሕጻናትን የያዙ 88 እናቶችን ለመርዳት ጥረት የሚያደርግበትን ማዕከል ጎብኝቻለሁ፡፡ እያንዳንዱን ሕጻን የመመዝገብ፤ የመመርመር ፤አልሚ ምግብ የመስጠት፤ የመመዘንና ቁመቱን  የመለካት ሥራ በአንድ የጤና ባለሙያ ብቻ ይከናወናል፡፡  እኛ ከቀኑ 10 ሰዓት ላይ ማዕከሉ ስንደርስ ፤የሕጻናቱ ወላጆች ለሰዓታት ሲጠብቁ የቆዩ ሲሆን የጤና ባለሙያው ከመምሸቱ በፊት ለልጆቻቸው ድጋፍ የማድረጉ ዕድልም ጠባብ ነበር፡፡

  1. ተጨማሪ ድጋፍ ከኢትዮጵያ መንግሥት

የኢትዮጵያ መንግሥት እስከአሁን ድረስ በመቶ ሚሊዮኖች  የሚቆጠር ዶላር ኢንቨስት ያደረገ ሲሆን ፤ በቀጣይም ተጨማሪ ገንዘብ መመደብ ይኖርበታል፡፡ መንግሥት የቢሮክራሲ ማንቆዎችን በማቃለልና የምግብ ሥርጭቱ እንዲፋጠን የሚያግዙ አሰራሮች በመፍቀድ፤ ለዓለም ዓቀፍ ማኅበረሰቡ ድጋፍ ማድረግ ይችላል፡፡ ለተረጂዎች በቀጥታ ድጋፍ የሚያደርግ የሰው ኃይል መጨመርና ዓለም ዓቀፍ ኤጀንሲዎች ያላቸውን ብቃት ለማሳደግና የሰው ኃይላቸውን ለመጨመር የሚያደርጉትን ድጋፍ የኢትዮጵያ መንግሥት መቀበል ይኖርበታል፡፡

እነዚህ እርምጃዎች አሁን ላለው ቀውስ ምላሽ ለመስጠት የሚያግዙ ቢሆንም፤ የረጅም ጊዜ ዕቅድ ሊኖረን ይገባል ፡፡ እ.ኤ.አ. በ2012 የአፍሪካ ቀንድ በመሳሰሉ አካባቢዎች በአየር ጠባይ መለዋወጥ ሳቢያ የሚከሰቱ ችግሮችን ለመቋቋም በዩ ኤስ ኤ አይ ዲ ስር የተመሰረተው የችግር መቋቋም አመራር ምክር ቤት ዓባልነቴ፣ የችግር መቋቋም አቅም ግንባታ ( Resilience ) በተግባር ምን እንደሚመስል ለማየት ጓጉቼ ነበረ፡፡

ፋጡማን የመሳሰሉ ቤተሰቦች ያስመዘገቡት ስኬት ፤ በከፊል በዩ ኤስ ኤ አይ ዲ የጀመረው ዘላቂ ልማትን እውን ለማድረግ ችግርን የመቋቋም አቅም ማሳደግ ፕሮግራም ውጤት ነው፡፡ ፕሮግራሙ በዩ ኤስ ኤ አይ ዲ ድጋፍና በኢትዮጵያ መንግሥት በሚመራው የምግብ ለሥራ ፕሮግራም ታቅፈው የምግብ ዕርዳታ የሚደረግላቸው ቤተሶቦችን ተጠቃሚ የሚያደርግ ነው፡፡ እንዲሁም ፕሮግራሙ በቂ ሀብት አፍርተው ራሳቸውን እንዲችሉ የሚያግዝ ነው፡፡

ፕሮግራሙ ሩቅ በሆኑ አካባቢዎች የሚገኙ ቤተሰቦችን በማኅበር በማደራጀት ፤ ከእርሻና ከእርሻ ውጭ በሆኑ እንቅስቃሴዎች ገቢ ማፍራት እንዲችሉና የብድር አገልግሎት እንዲያገኙ የሚያሥችል ስልጠና ይሰጣል፡፡ የተሻለ ዘር ፣ ማዳበሪያና የብድር አገልግሎት ተጠቃሚ እንዲሆኑ ከዘመናዊ ግብይት ጋር ያስተሳስራቸዋል፡፡

ፋጡማ ባላት የጓሮ እርሻ ሰብል ከማምረት ባሻገር፤ የሱቅ ንግድ በማካሄድ ፣ ሻይ በመሸጥ፣ በአህያ የሚጎተት ጋሪ በማከራየት እንዲሁም በግና ፍየል አድልባ ወተት ስጋና የቁም እንስሳትን በመሸጥ ራሷን ችላለች፡፡

በማኅበረሰቡ የተቋቋመው ማኅበርም ዓባላት ድንገተኛ የገንዘብ እጥረት ሲያጋጥማቸው ወጪ ማድረግ የሚያስችላቸው የጋራ የቁጠባ ሒሳብ ያንቀሳቅሳ፡፡ ይህም ችግር ሲያጋጥማቸው ያለማንም ድጋፍ በራሳቸው እንዲወጡ በራስ እንዲተማመኑ አድርÙል፡፡

 ምንም እንኳ ባለፉት አራት ዓመታት በፕሮግራሙ ከተሳተፉት ከ 33,000 በላይ ቤተሰቦች፤ ከግማሽ በላይ የሚሆኑት ከምግብ ዕርዳታ የተላቀቁ ቢሆንም ፤ የምግብ ዋስትና ማረጋገጥ ደረጃ ላይ ያልተደረሰ መሆኑ ሊታወቅ ይገባል፡፡ ወደ 8 ሚሊዮን የሚጠጉ ኢትዮጵያውያን በምግብ ለሥራ ፕሮግራም ታቀፈው በየወሩ የምግብ ዕርዳታ ይቀበላሉ፡፡

የዩ ኤስ ኤ አይ ዲ ችግር የመቋቋም ፕሮግራም የተራዘመ የምግብ ዕርዳታን ከልማት ጋር በማስተሳሰር የሰብዓዊ ዕርዳታ ፍላጎት እንዲቀንስ ይሰራል፡፡ እኛ ምን በተጨባጭ እንደሚሰራ

የሚያሳይ አቅም እየገነባን ቢሆንም፤  ያጋጠመን ቀውስ ከስኬታችን የላቀ ነው፡፡

ከኢትዮጵያ ጉብኝቴ ስመለስ ፤ በመዘንጋታቸው ምክንያት የምግብ ዋስትና ማረጋገጥ ያልቻሉ  የኅበረተሰብ ክፍሎች ፤ ችግርን የመቋቋም አቅም እንዲፈጥሩና ከድህነት እንዲወጡ ለማድረግ ከለጋሾችና ከኢትዮጵያ መንግሥት ጋር ተባብረን መስራት እንደሚገባን ተግንዝቢያለሁ፡፡

ስለ ጸሐፊው፡

ዲና እስፖሲቶ በዩ ኤስ ኤ አይ ዲ የዲሞክራሲ፣ ግጭትና የሰብዓዊ ዕርዳታ ተጠባበቂ ምክትል አስተዳዳሪ ናቸው፡፡

One thought on “4 Ways to Help Turn the Tide on Ethiopia’s Drought

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