February 1, 2023

Over 185,000 malnourished children in Ethiopia amid historical drought, says United Nations

Ethiopians rally at the White House in Washington DC, on November 8, 2021, in support of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali in the ongoing conflict in Tigray. Photo: TODAY NEWS AFRICA/Simon Ateba
Ethiopians rally at the White House in Washington DC, on November 8, 2021, in support of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali in the ongoing conflict in Tigray. Photo: TODAY NEWS AFRICA/Simon Ateba

More than 185,000 children are severely malnourished in Ethiopia as the war torn nation faces one of its worst droughts in decades in addition to prolonged violent conflict, said a recent report from the United Nations.

“Ethiopia is experiencing one of the most severe La Niña-induced droughts in the last forty years following four consecutive failed rainy seasons since late 2020. The prolonged drought continues to compromise fragile livelihoods heavily reliant on livestock and deepening food insecurity and malnutrition,” reported a June update on the drought from the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

The United Nations reports that 2.1 million livestock have died to date and there are over 7.2 million highly food insecure people in need of food assistance and 4.4 million people in need of water in Ethiopia.

The extremely agrarian Ethiopian economy and its food systems have been devastated by prolonged drought, the covid-19 pandemic, and ongoing conflict. Vulnerable populations have consistently been affected by all of these realities as millions of people have been displaced from their homes.

OCHA reports that more than 682,000 students have been affected by the closure of over 2,000 schools in Ethiopia.

The nationwide humanitarian crisis in Ethiopia is expected to continue to compound as the situation becomes more dire. “Over the next months, a spike is forecasted in the number of acute malnutrition cases in drought affected areas of up from the first quarter of the year,” reported the United Nations.

In January, the United Nations identified 4.6 million food insecure people in the Tigray Region of Ethiopia, where the majority of the violent conflict has taken place. This is 83 percent of the Tigrayan population.

In its June

 report, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs concluded that over 8.1 million people in Ethiopia are currently affected by the drought. The UN World Food Programme concluded in a March brief that over 20.4 million people are in need of food assistance in Ethiopia.


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