We met Fatuma Hassan in Tual Guled Woreda, a town that is deep in the interior of Somali Region in Ethiopia. She was seated in her small makeshift shelter that barely protects her from the scorching sun and the cold nights. Inside her shelter is a wooden bed with no mattress, some dirty worn-out clothes and a hip of charcoal in the corner. There are no bags, utensils or any household items - these as she describes are the only items she managed to carry when the drought ravaged the region. She lost everything, all that she has ever owned, her prized possessions and her assets.
The long journey
Fatuma is a young 31-year-old lady, however, the challenges of life coupled with the devastating drought have left her fatigued, lean and emaciated. She fled from Mulisa in Fafan Zone earlier this year together with her husband and three children due to the drought conditions in the area. They stayed in the area hoping that the rains would come, but when it became apparent that it would be another failed rainy season, they traveled to Dudajirma Kebele in Tuli Guled Woreda in search of assistance and shelter from the drought. The drought has killed most of their livestock and only two remain although malnourished and on the brink of death.
“This cow has not been able to stand up for four days now and from experience, sadly this is the end. We have tried to feed it in vain, it seems to be in its last days and does not have the energy to stand up,” Fatuma remarks.
Getting back on her feet
Fatuma is among the 1,410 families that received USD 85 from DRC’s cash transfer project in order to cope with the devastating effects of the drought. The project targeted the most vulnerable households affected by the current drought. It will give her the flexibility and power to prioritize her needs and those of her family.
Fatuma, displaced mother of three children
When we asked her how she planned use the money, she said she would immediately purchase fodder for her two remaining livestock in the hope that they would be able to survive the drought.
"My animals are my assets, I know I cannot rely on others for my family’s sustenance, hence why I am prioritizing them because I know they will save us,” she concludes.
DRC Ethiopia has ramped up its emergency operations to focus on cash transfer, WASH and Protection. As the drought continues to impact families and livestock negatively, DRC will continue to fast track its emergency response in order to save lives. Cash is a proven means to assist households to meet their basic needs and restore dignity with the ultimate hope of stemming the tide of the ongoing displacements.
Seeing that droughts are becoming more frequent and severe leading to lose of livelihoods and turning thousands into IDPs, DRC is emphasizing on building the resilience of communities in order for them to withstand future shocks.
Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia are experiencing one of the worst droughts in 40 years after three back-to-back failed rainy seasons. Thousands of people have been forced into displacement while seeking food, water and pasture, and the governments of Kenya and Somalia have declared national emergencies.
As donors convene in Geneva, over 50 NGOs and NGO networks call for an urgent and substantial step-up in funding and leadership to respond to the humanitarian catastrophe facing millions in the Horn of Africa due to the severe drought, warning that further delays will cost lives.