NAIROBI, March 6 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Millions of
drought-stricken Ethiopians needing food, water and emergency
medical care are not receiving it due to funding shortages, the
United Nations said, warning the crisis will worsen if spring
rains fail as predicted.
Some 5.6 million people need food aid in the Horn of Africa
nation, which has been hit by a series of back-to-back droughts.
"The needs relating to the developing emergency exceed
resources available to date," the U.N.'s Office for the
Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said on Monday.
"Each day without food assistance exponentially increases
human suffering, lengthens the recovery period of affected
people, puts increasing pressure on humanitarian and development
systems, and the interventions become that much more expensive."
It is three times cheaper to treat children who are
moderately, rather than severely, malnourished, it said.
But it takes at least four months to procure, ship and
deliver emergency supplies to Ethiopia, it said.
The U.N. appealed for more than $900 million in aid for
Ethiopia in January.
Almost 13 million people across the Horn of Africa need aid
due to drought, including 2.7 million in Kenya, 2.9 million
people in Somalia and 1.6 million people in Uganda, OCHA said.
The situation is expected to worsen across the region as the
"belg" Spring rains are predicted to fail.
"The expected below normal rainfall will negatively impact
belg land preparation and planting, as well as water and pasture
availability; with a spiral effect on food and nutritional
security of affected communities," OCHA said.
At least $2.7 million is required each week to provide water
via more than 600 trucks to millions of people, mostly livestock
herders in southern Ethiopia, but there is only funding for
300-odd trucks, OCHA said.
Humanitarians are already short of cooking oil to distribute
to hungry Ethiopians, with pulses and cereals likely to run out
in the next few months, OCHA added.
There is also no money to deploy emergency medical teams and
health supplies to southern areas not covered by health
facilities, it said.
Eastern and southern Africa were hard hit in 2016 by drought
exacerbated by El Nino - a warming of sea-surface temperatures
in the Pacific Ocean - that wilted crops, slowed economic growth
and drove food prices higher.
(Reporting by Katy Migiro @katymigiro; Editing by Astrid
Zweynert. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the
charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian
news, women’s rights, trafficking, property rights and climate
change. Visit news.trust.org to see more stories.)