Ethiopia is facing a killer drought. But it’s going almost unnoticed.
Ethiopia is facing a killer drought.
But it’s going almost unnoticed.. ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia — The announcement by the United Nations in March that 20 million people in four countries were teetering on the edge of famine stunned the world and rammed home the breadth of the humanitarian crisis faced by so many in 2017.
On Thursday, the Ethiopian government increased its count of the number of people requiring emergency food aid from 5.6 million to 7.7 million, a move that aid agencies say was long overdue.
The figure is expected to rise further as southeast Ethiopia confronts another fierce drought.
Ethiopia, long associated with a devastating famine in the 1980s, returned to the headlines last year when it was hit by severe drought in the highland region, affecting 10.2 million people.
Food aid poured in, the government spent hundreds of millions of its own money, and famine was averted.
“We’ve spent all the money we’ve got, basically.” With donors focused on Somalia across the border, little international aid has found its way to the Ethiopian areas hit by that drought.
The contrast is clear in the bustling capital, Addis Ababa, where rainy skies and a hive of construction projects make it feel thousands of miles away from any drought.
The United Nations World Food Program (WFP), which is working in Ethiopia’s drought-hit Somali region, has started cutting its food rations to 80 percent.
“It’s stretching the humanitarian community,” WFP regional spokeswoman Challiss McDonough said, referring to the string of crises in the Horn of Africa and elsewhere on the continent.