The drought caused by the Indian Ocean Dipole is proving to be the worst in Ethiopia for the past 50 years, particularly devastating as it follows last year’s El Niño drought. Close to 6 million people are in need of food and water. The Somali region of southern Ethiopia is the most critically affected with 1.2 million people (31% of the population) facing crisis. It has reported an estimated 49,000 severe acute malnutrition (SAM) cases, about one sixth of the total 300,000 across Ethiopia. The present situation is expected to worsen as the Belg and gu/ganna/sugum rains are late, weak and erratic, and the October-December Deyr or short-rains season brought severely low levels of rainfall to the region. There is therefore a critical water shortage in Somali region and a total of 185 woredas need water trucking. Unsafe water has led to recent reports of 15,000 cases of acute watery diarrhea, and cases of meningococcal meningitis, measles, dengue fever, scabies and chikungunya are widely reported and spreading.
Admissions to care for severe acute malnutrition, as well as the need for food assistance and water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) support in agricultural and pastoral areas are expected to increase in the months to come. For example, Gambella region expects 90,000 or more new refugees from South Sudan; as the camp at Nguniyel is already full, UNHCR and the Administration for Refugee and Returnee Affairs (ARRA) are opening a new camp in Benishangul Gumuz. Somali region’s Erer and Liban zones also show significant nutritional, WASH and health needs.
With the financial support of the Earth Council Geneva, International Medical Corps has worked in Ethiopia since 2003 to strengthen local capacity to deliver services related to infectious disease and HIV/AIDS, reproductive health, nutrition, psychosocial support, maternal and child health, water, sanitation, and hygiene, and livelihoods. International Medical Corps is responding with emergency health, nutrition and water, sanitation and hygiene in the host communities within the Somali (6 woredas), Oromia (20 woredas), and Southern Nations region (10 woredas)—areas at the epicenter of the drought and food security crisis.
Earth Council Geneva/ International Medical Corps Respond
With the donations from Earth Council Geneva, International Medical Corps will address the immediate water-related needs and challenges faced at the schools and health facilities and neighboring community within the targeted woredas. This project directly complements International Medical Corps’ resilience and sanitation marketing efforts in Wolayita, which reach the same local communities with nutrition, primary health care, and livelihoods services, and builds on efforts previously supported by Earth Council Geneva, DOW Chemical and IBM to increase access to clean water and safe hygiene practices, by meeting additional water needs in the same targeted communities.
To ensure the sustainability of the project, 42 local representatives from the WASH committee are being trained on water system management and maintenance to assume ownership and sustain the established water systems at the six facilities. Additionally, teams will raise awareness on positive WASH-related behaviors among the community members through the distribution of culturally appropriate information, education and communication materials. The materials will provide information on the benefits of safe drinking water and safe water management, latrine use for defecation, and the most critical times for washing hands to further decrease the number of WASH-related diseases. International Medical Corps will also coordinate with local government offices and schools so that the program is implemented in a sustainable manner. For example, local community members will be directly involved throughout the project, participating in continual monitoring and follow-up to ensure positive long-term WASH results.
Further progress will be posted on this website - donations are most welcome to save as many children as possible - together!
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