The hungriest in East Africa are the thirstiest


USAID donates food relief in Ethiopia. File photo by USAID

from ADANE BIKILA in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Ethiopia Bureau
ADDIS ABABA, (CAJ News) – MORE than 33,5 million people in drought-stricken East Africa have insufficient safe drinking water, with the failed rain predicted to persist for a sixth consecutive season by May.

This would make this the longest drought on record, according to experts.

Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia are affected.

In some areas in Ethiopia, northern Kenya and Somalia, the cost of water has risen by 400 percent since January 2021, making remaining water out of reach for the 22,7 million people already facing acute hunger.

In northern Kenya, 95 percent of water sources have dried up in pastoral areas, causing water prices to rise.

“The hungriest people in the region are also the thirstiest,” said Fati N’Zi-Hassane, Oxfam in Africa Director.

“People have depleted their last penny as they lost their crops and animals. They now have to pay vendors who continuously hike water prices,” N’Zi-Hassane said.

The drought is estimated to have already killed more than 13 million livestock, dried up thousands of hectares of crops and driven 1,75 million people from their homes in search of water and food.

Most communities are now relying on emergency water trucking or unprotected wells.

N’Zi-Hassane lamented that without clean water, people are at risk of contracting acute watery diarrhoea and cholera.

Only 20 percent of the US$7 billion appeal for Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia has been funded to date. This is derailing efforts to help millions of people on the brink.

“The world should not turn its back on East Africa. Without an urgent and major increase in aid, many more people will die of hunger and thirst,” N’Zi-Hassane warned.

– CAJ News


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