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Severe Ethiopian Drought Claims Thousands Of Livestock Threatens Life

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  • Pat Neuman
    Severe Ethiopian Drought Claims Thousands Of Livestock Threatens Life An animal carcass lies rotting on the banks of Lake Naivasha, Kenya. Photo courtesy of
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 5, 2006
      Severe Ethiopian Drought Claims Thousands Of Livestock Threatens Life

      An animal carcass lies rotting on the banks of Lake Naivasha, Kenya.
      Photo courtesy of AFP.
      by Lea-Lisa Westerhoff
      Goraye, Ethiopia (AFP) Apr 05, 2006
      Putrefying cattle carcasses line either side of the wind swept road
      leading to the lone watering hole in the extinct Goraye volcano in
      the southern Ethiopian region of Borena, where animals have
      succumbed to a scathing drought that is also threatening people with
      For the last five years, the region has only been receiving scanty
      rains and this has caused the drying up of hand-dug wells and
      underground water reservoirs.

      "It is a real massacre, we cannot any more count the number of
      animals that we have lost in the past weeks," said Diide Tadi, head
      of Dire district, which is among the worst affected areas in Borena

      At least 100,000 animals have died in the last two months in Borena,
      home to nearly 100,000 pastoralists, while some 250,000 people out
      of about one million residents in the larger Oromo region currently
      depend on relief aid, officials said.

      But according to United Nations predictions, the number of those
      needing relief assistance is likely to double next month.

      At least 5,000 people depend on the Goraye watering hole, which was
      recently repaired by the UN agency for children (UNICEF) and also
      serves herders from Kenya who travel for about 100 kilometres (60
      miles from the south of Ethiopia.

      With the fast dying animals, international relief group CARE
      hurriedly put up an abbatoir to buy dying stock from the herders and
      then distribute the meat to the hunger-stricken locals.

      "Because of the drought, we slaugter up to 100 cattle a day because
      they are too weak to walk," said Gilma Liben, an official with CARE.

      In addition to Ethiopia, a severe drought that has gripped the east
      African nations of Kenya, Somalia and Djibouti has put some 11
      million people on the brink of starvation according to the UN.

      The situation is mainly affecting children of the pastoralist
      communities as they depend on milk from the cattle now falling in
      the wake of the scorching drought.

      Meanwhile according to Dejene Benti of the US Medical Corps
      International, infant malnutrition is hovering near 20 percent which
      he warned is critical, resulting in about 30 children being
      hospitalised at a health centre in Goraye due to drought-sparked

      "When animals die, it is the children who are directly affected
      because in this pastoral society, 60 percent of food is from milk,"
      said Marc Rubin, an official with UNICEF.

      However, with the light rains that have fallen in the region
      recently, the situation remains critical and worse still, the
      showers risk sparking infection as run off washing rotting carcasses
      drains into open pans and other water holes that are used by local

      "With all the carcasses lying along the roads, the rain will collect
      all the dirt and contaminate the ponds and the wells where people
      drink, this will be problematic as it could cause a lot of disease,"
      Dejene warned.

      Residents here say the current drought is the most severe in recent
      times with some 1.5 million people in the country's eastern and
      southern regions having no access to potable water since January.

      "I cannot remember ever having seen such a severe drought in at
      least the last five years," said Gaarso Lema, a 25-year-old herder
      who said he has to, on certain days, trek for between 10 and 15
      kilometres in search of pasture.

      "Three years ago, I lost 14 animals, but this time I have lost 25. I
      only remain with five and I fear that they will all die," he added.

      ousands_Of_Livestock_Threatens_Life.htmlgence France-Presse
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