(ERGO) – A severe drought in Dawa, in Ethiopia’s Somali Region, has affected more than 62,000 families and killed nearly 50,000 livestock. The affected families are living in a dire situation with lack of food and water. Radio Ergo’s local correspondent, Abdirahman Abdullahi Osman, has interviewed Siad Ibrahim Ali, head of Dawa zone’s disaster risk management office.
Siad Ibrahim: The drought has affected the four districts of Dawa zone. It was caused by the little rain the area received in the Gu’ season (April to June) rains and the delayed Deyr (October to December) rains. A lot of livestock have died due to lack of water. The drought has been there since the failed Gu’ rains. The residents here have been depending on water delivery for the last five months. But the situation worsened towards the end of October when the livestock started dying.
Radio Ergo: What can you tell us about the livestock that died, and the families affected by the drought?
Siad Ibrahim: Overall 47,215 animals have been killed by the drought. The drought has also affected 62,960 people, most of whom are pastoralists depending on their livestock for a living. These people need urgent aid as they are living in a dire situation. Some of the families have already fled their villages. About 41,745 of the affected people are those who fled from the Oromia conflict and they depended on help from the pastoralist residents. The pastoralists can’t help them anymore as their own livestock are dying. The drought has closed 18 schools in the region, disrupting the education of 2,972 students.
Radio Ergo: Could you describe to us the comparative magnitude of the drought?
Siad Ibrahim: This drought is severe. I have been living here for nine years and I haven’t seen a drought as bad as this. There are livestock diseases on top of the drought. There is CCPP affecting goats and sheep and an undiagnosed disease is infecting the camels. Donkey and camels, which are the least affected livestock normally during drought, are now dying of lack of water.
Radio Ergo: Has your authority distributed any aid to the affected families?
Siad Ibrahim: We are providing water to the drought affected people and we have raised the alarm with the regional government and local aid organisations, asking them to send urgent aid to assist these families. Besides that, there is nothing we have been able to do for them.
Radio Ergo: Are there funds set aside by the government to help the affected pastoralist families to buy livestock feeds for their animals?
Siad Ibrahim: We haven’t received any aid yet. But there are plans to send animal feeds from Dollow Bay and Jarati towns. The plan is executed by the regional disaster risk management office with the help of the ministry of livestock.
Radio Ergo: What are your plans if the situation further deteriorates?
Siad Ibrahim: Currently, our plan is to reduce the salaries of our staff and ask the local businessmen to donate funds to help the most vulnerable families. That is the only option we have left for now as this drought is at national level, and a regional government alone cannot respond without external help.