from ADANE BIKILA in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
ADDIS ABABA, (CAJ News) – JUST months ago, drought and lack of water claimed lives Ethiopia.
Now, flood waters are doing the same as climate change rears its ugly head again.
Heavy downpours since October have led to flooding, landslides and massive displacement across the country, killing at least 43 people including at least eight children and displacing nearly 400 000 people from their homes.
This has triggered a new cholera outbreak that has left at least 23 people dead in just two weeks.
The deaths are from 772 confirmed cases, mostly in the Somali region.
At least 91 districts across Ethiopia are reporting cases of cholera, with the situation expected to worsen as rains continue to fall in the Afar, Gambella and Somali regions.
Children under five account for nearly 80 percent of the confirmed cases.
Save the Children said devastating floods have left sanitation and hygiene conditions in shambles, with toilets and latrines destroyed. This has forced communities, especially recently displaced families, into open defecation.
“The cholera outbreak is alarming, compounded by the use of unsafe floodwaters contaminated by waste from ruined latrines,” Xavier Joubert, Save the Children’s Country Director for Ethiopia, said.
For the better part of this year, when the impacted region was engulfed by drought, cases of the waterborne disease were n the decline.
The Somali region reported zero cases of cholera for 11 straight weeks until mid-September, when the rains started.
Now, flooded water systems, a lack of basic sanitation services and damaged water treatment plants has emerged a deadly combination.
“This emergency illustrates one way that the climate crisis impacts the world’s most vulnerable people,” said Ria Jusufbegovic, Action Against Hunger’s Country Director for Ethiopia.
Over 20 million people are estimated to be in need of humanitarian assistance, including 4,5 internally displaced persons.
Food security continues to be a major concern across the country amid the ongoing pause in food response, high malnutrition rates and recent reports of drought-like conditions in the northern regions.
– CAJ News