Humanitarian workers have warned that the effects of the current dry season in Ethiopia's eastern Somali region are unusually severe due to poor rains during the previous two wet seasons.
A report prepared by the UN Emergencies Unit for Ethiopia, said the Somali region was suffering in much the same way as southern and northern parts of Somalia, with lack of water constituting the main problem.
"People are migrating in search of water for both human and animal consumption," the report said. Livestock, particularly cattle, were in a "weakened, but not yet seriously poor condition", it added.
"If the forthcoming main rainy season (April/June) ... fails, there will be a widespread emergency situation in the region," the report warned.
An annual early warning system report for the pastoral areas, issued last month by Ethiopia's Disaster Prevention and Preparedness Commission (DPPC), indicated the number of people affected by the current drought was between 800,000 and 1.4 million.
The UN report noted that the poor capacity of the region with regard to personnel, equipment and vehicles combined with poor infrastructure continued to be of concern to donors, UN agencies and NGOs.
"It is clear that emergency interventions, while necessary during the present drought situation, are not the solution to the region's myriad problems. It is time to move beyond repeated emergency interventions to longer-term development initiatives, particularly in the water sector," the report said.
This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions
Hundreds of thousands of readers trust The New Humanitarian each month for quality journalism that contributes to more effective, accountable, and inclusive ways to improve the lives of people affected by crises.
Our award-winning stories inform policymakers and humanitarians, demand accountability and transparency from those meant to help people in need, and provide a platform for conversation and discussion with and among affected and marginalised people.
We’re able to continue doing this thanks to the support of our donors and readers like you who believe in the power of independent journalism. These contributions help keep our journalism free and accessible to all.
Show your support as we build the future of news media by becoming a member of The New Humanitarian.