For people in the Horn of Africa, the dangers of climate change are not a vague, far-off threat. People in the Somali Region of Ethiopia, like many others in Kenya and Somalia, are now enduring near-constant severe drought. Despite bearing no responsibility for the factors driving climate change, they are suffering the effects and struggling to survive.
The drought in this region is part of a trend. Across eastern, southern, and central Africa, Oxfam estimates that 52 million people in 18 countries are facing up to crisis levels of hunger as a result of weather extremes, compounded by poverty and conflict. In Ethiopia, Somalia, South Sudan, and Sudan, more than 750,000 people have been displaced by conflict and 350,000 have been displaced by extreme weather. Globally, on average more than 20 million people a year were internally displaced by extreme weather disasters over the last 10 years – 87 percent of all people internally displaced by all disasters during this period.
Oxfam is providing assistance to families in Ethiopia’s Somali Region. We have recently vaccinated livestock, provided water, sanitation, and hygiene assistance for people displaced by the drought and conflict, and cash to help people buy food and other essentials. However, Oxfam as well as other aid organizations and the governments in the Horn of Africa are urgently seeking resources to meet the needs of the 15 million people requiring humanitarian assistance.
I recently spent five days traveling across the Somali Region and spoke to people living in the middle of the drought crisis. Here are their words.
Million Ali is a program officer and livelihoods expert for Oxfam, based in Jijiga in the Somali Region.