Drought in Ethiopia: Emergency aid reaches Borena shepherds

The first trucks with 40 tons of maize flour and cooking oil have arrived in Borena: Our emergency aid campaign for the herders in the very south of Ethiopia has started successfully. Not too soon: Especially the youngest children suffer severely from lack and hunger.

Mutter mit Kind auf dem Arm hat Nothilfe erhalten

Tenu Boru, 25, has lost all her cattle. Now she received an emergency aid package from MfM

The vegetation is withered, the earth bare. Gusts whirl up the red dust, tugging at the round dwellings that the people have tied together from twigs, rags and plastic sheets. The women’s colourful robes are the only splashes of colour in a bleak living situation: most of them have been here in Bekata Camp in Dubuluk District in the Borena region in the very south of Ethiopia for five months already. Many men are still out in the vastness of the savannah, searching for grass and water for the last surviving animals.

The herders of Borena have been hit hard by the worst drought in forty years in the Horn of Africa: The families’ goats, cows and camels have starved and died of thirst. The people have survived so far because they share what little they have left, as is the tradition of the nomadic peoples.

Many women collected branches in the savannah to sell them on the streets for a little money – firewood for cooking fires is scarce everywhere in Ethiopia. Others sought income as day labourers, but due to great competition from other climate refugees, jobs are scarce and daily wages dropped by half from 100 birr to 50 birr, less than one US-Dollar).

Now the families are at the end of their tether, as a visit to the huts shows. Tenu Boru, 25, lives in one of the dwellings with her two children. “We had 35 cattle. All of them died: there was no rain, so no grass,” she says. “Now we fear for our own lives.”

Tuheme, their two-year-old daughter, cries. The mother gives her her breast, but this does not calm the little girl. She stalks into a corner of the hut, fetches a pot there and carries it to the mother. Tenu takes the pot from the child’s hand. The pot is empty. The child looks at it and starts crying again. “She’s hungry, she wants something to eat,” Tenu says.

Fortunately, the first emergency aid from Menschen für Menschen finally arrived today. Corn for the herders of Borena could be bought on a large farm in north-west Ethiopia near Lake Tana – in total Menschen für Menschen brings around 200 tons to the disaster area in the south. It took the trucks four days to get to the needy families about 900 kilometers along the pothole-strewn roads in the south of Ethiopia.

Mutter sitzt auf Säcken mit Maismehl

A total of three distributions are planned

At the first distribution point in the Bekata camp, around 300 people, mostly women, are already crowded under acacia trees. In cooperation with the local authorities and the pastoral community, lists of those in need have been drawn up in advance. A total of 4539 people get 15 kilograms of cornmeal and half a liter of cooking oil. In addition, laundry soap and tent tarpaulins are distributed. The recipients acknowledge receipt with a fingerprint. The older recipients in particular express their gratitude exuberantly.

“Unfortunately, the camps have continued to grow since our first fact-finding visit,” says Getachew Zewdu, country representative of Menschen für Menschen, who oversaw distribution on site. “More climate refugees arrived.” In addition to this first distribution, two more are planned by the end of September. “Then the rainy season should start and the situation should slowly ease – hopefully.”



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