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CHF Ethiopia- Somali Region Drought Update

Published 05/17/2011 by Global Communities

Somali Region Drought Update
Rains Finally Arrive in Gode/WarderCHF International is pleased to report that rain has, at long last, fallen in the far eastern regions of Ethiopia. After the failure of the dehr rains in 2010, the gu rains of March & April 2011 appeared also to have failed in the eastern parts of the Somali Region. Two consecutive complete rain failures promised to make a bad situation even worse; and indeed CHF has been preparing to respond. Fortunately it appeared that the gu rains are simply late and will not be a complete failure, although (due to the unpredictability of weather patterns associated with La Nina) they could stop at any moment. Reservoirs are not fully replenished and it seems ambitious to think that the current rain will provide enough rain for the coming period, especially if the 2011 dehr rains are poor.
CHF Stops Water Trucking—For Now
Through funding from UN OCHA, CHF successfully completed 60 days of water trucking to drought-affected areas in Warden. Due to the arrival of rain and at the request of local authorities, CHF has halted its emergency provision of water. If the rains continue, CHF hopes to divert some of the UN funds back into other, more sustainable interventions such as sanitation and hygiene awareness activities and upgrading of traditional wells. Trucking continues in some places by other NGOs.
The Current Rain—Not a Panacea
Although the late arrival of the gu rains offers much-needed relief to pastoral communities in the Somali Region—some of which haven’t seen rain in over a year—with rain comes additional issues. As has happened after previous droughts in Ethiopia, CHF staff in Warden have noticed an increase in livestock death right after the rains began. Increased concentration of livestock and people around areas with water increases the risk of disease and death.
Additionally, the rain has not fallen in all areas; Danot (Warder) still has not received rain and CHF staff report mass migrations of pastoralists and their livestock to neighboring areas that did receive rain.
Rain also increases the risk of flash flooding and water borne diseases, big problems in CHF’s areas of operation where hygiene and sanitation standards—especially in those communities that haven’t received CHF’s interventions—remain poor.
Possible Next Steps
For months CHF has been preparing to respond quickly to the disastrous results of two consecutive rain failures. Despite limited funding, CHF has maintained a presence in Gode and surrounding woredas and all four woredas of the Warder area.
Should the rains fall again, or (more likely) if the current rains do not adequately prepare pastoral communities for the coming months/year, CHF is ready to quickly respond. Among other things, responses could include:

Shallow/traditional well upgrading, including improved sanitation at water points;

Community water point management;

Water treatment chemical provision;

Maintenance of existing water schemes;

Sanitation/hygiene awareness campaigns, and

Alternative livelihoods programming.
Through USAID/OFDA, CHF has been able to reach many drought-affected areas with relief and sustainable WASH interventions; however, there are many areas particularly around GOde and in Warder that have not received any assistance. Pastoralists from Kelafo, once a destination for cattle, have taken their herds to Gode in desperation. Additionally, regular clan conflicts in East & West Emy (near Gode), are exacerbated by the drought. Simple WASH interventions in places like Emy promise to not only alleviate the water insecure, but also reduce potential flash points between historically feuding clans.