World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought
Posted by Francesca Rutherford on Saturday 17th June 2017
Today marks World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought, the occasion has been observed since 1995 in order to raise public awareness for the devastating effects of drought and to promote international cooperation in combating the causes and symptoms of desertification and drought around the world.
East Africa is currently in the grips of a severe drought caused by the cumulative effects of El Niño in 2015/2016 and a series of failed annual rains over the last few years. As a result, millions of people in Ethiopia are in desperate need of assistance. The Afar region, in the North of Ethiopia has been particularly affected by this crisis and we are working closely with our partners to try and mitigate the impact on communities in the region. Our partner the Afar Pastoralist Development Association (APDA) is working tirelessly to help people in Afar survive the drought. APDA is responding to the crisis in three important ways: water trucking, provision of health care works and veterinary care.
The drought has caused the water holes, which most people depend on, to dry up and the geography of the region makes well boring impossible. The only alternative is to drive trucks full of water into the region in order to provide people with the water they desperately need. One truck can carry 14,000 litres of water, enough to provide 2,800 people with 5litres each. It is a monumental and never ending task keeping these trucks running.
Health workers have a fundamental role in ensuring aid gets to where it is most needed. Many settlements in Afar are remote and widely dispersed. Health workers are the only viable means by which these remote communities receive the help they need. Health workers often walk for many days at a time to reach these communities and provide them with vaccinations, malnutrition supplements and nutrition surveillance.
Many people in Ethiopia are pastoralists and rely on their livestock for survival, APDA provide crucial veterinary care for the livestock of around 7,500 households in the Afar region, ensuring that these families can continue providing for themselves.
If you would like to find out more about the drought crisis, our work with ADPA and how you can help, you can do so here.