‘THE RAINS HAVE FAILED’ – DROUGHT IN BORENA, ETHIOPIA.

"CHILDREN ARE NO LONGER GOING TO SCHOOL; THE PRIORITY IS GOING TO SEARCH FOR WATER. THEY WALK FOR HOURS IN THE HOPE THAT THE POND THEY ARE GOING TO HAS NOT DRIED UP.

“CHILDREN ARE NO LONGER GOING TO SCHOOL; THE PRIORITY IS GOING TO SEARCH FOR WATER. THEY WALK FOR HOURS IN THE HOPE THAT THE POND THEY ARE GOING TO HAS NOT DRIED UP.

THERE IS A DROUGHT IN BORENA, A ZONE IN ETHIOPIA APPROXIMATELY THE SIZE OF IRELAND’S LEINSTER AND MUNSTER PROVINCES COMBINED, AND THE PEOPLE THERE KNOW IT.

“THE IMMEDIATE DIFFERENCE I NOTICE IS HOW DRY IT IS. THERE IS VERY LITTLE VEGETATION. I ALSO DON’T SEE AS MUCH LIVESTOCK AS THERE USED TO BE. “

There is a drought in Borena, a zone in Ethiopia approximately the size of Ireland’s Leinster and Munster provinces combined, and the people there know it.

Terms such as El Niño, climate change and global warming have been repeated over and over again during meetings held in Addis Ababa by the different humanitarian agencies over the past few months. It is clear there is a crisis in Borena, but in order to better understand the situation on the ground, I decided to travel there.

Borena is part of Ethiopia’s Oromia Region and is located in the south of the country. The zone is inhabited by pastoralists that rely solely on their livestock for their existence. They eat the meat, drink the milk and sell the livestock to purchase other food, pay school fees, and purchase medication when needed.

I had visited this zone during the same month last year and, as we drive into Borena, the immediate difference I notice is how dry it is. There is very little vegetation. I also don’t see as much livestock as there used to be. I have been told that the communities have started migrating to neighbouring districts to look for water and pasture. The cattle that I do see has started to show signs of deterioration. I can see their ribs starting to protrude. Without outside intervention, it is likely that the cattle will deteriorate further and by the time communities decide to sell them they will get a quarter of the price, driving them further into poverty.

The Borena people are well-known for prioritizing their children when it comes to food, but I am now told that signs of malnutrition amongst the young ones is starting to show. This is a clear indication of how bad things are now – and will be in the months to come.

“The rains have failed. The rains have failed.” This is the mantra that I seem to hear wherever I go.

During the drought of 2011, the Borenas lost over 250,000 cattle. This year’s drought is likely to be even more severe. One woman tells me that the Hagaya rains – the short rainy season from October to November – have not come and if they don’t arrive in one week, they will have no water for months to come, unless they are assisted by NGOs or the government with provisions of water. Children are no longer going to school; the priority is going to search for water. They walk for hours in the hope that the pond they are going to has not dried up.

The water point I visited, which GOAL has rehabilitated, was initially meant to benefit approximately 2,000 households and 10,000 livestock. Now it serves double this number because of the lack of water in the neighbouring districts.

An elderly man explains to me that there are also cattle from Kenya that have come across to Ethiopia due to lack of water on the Kenyan side. I am surprised by this generosity in times of scarcity, but he explains to me that these people are also Borena like them, long before man-made borders dictated otherwise.

As we drive back to our office, I find myself unable to gather my thoughts and think clearly in the face of such a crisis. El Niño, global warming and climate change; for the Borena people these words mean very little. All they know is that the rains have failed them once again and they don’t know how they are going to survive in the months to come.

By Gabriella Prandini, GOAL Ethiopia Humanitarian Response Programme Manager

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Posted by on October 1, 2015. Filed under FEATURED. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

2 Responses to ‘THE RAINS HAVE FAILED’ – DROUGHT IN BORENA, ETHIOPIA.

  1. Namaga

    October 1, 2015 at 2:43 PM

    Boy, hope you will survive. As an Oromo, you have leaders who stand for you, not against you. You will be fed and grow. Money will come from US, Britain, Australia, France.

    My story is shocking. Unlike your situation, I grew up with full of food and milk, clothes, nice shelter in the famous Gurage house.

    Probably when I was the same age as you in my remote village of Gurage, sellout Haile Sellasie found me through his Gurage guides. Anti-Christ Christians, Muslim is a halal meat for them. Since then, all people, 7 billion people of the world wonder how the Emperor sought me out as innocent as I was a child. Not knowing, I went to school named in honor of his son, Prince Asfawesen, every boy wondering why they are whispered in their ears things about me.

  2. ኤፍሪም- ከ ሳን ፍራንሲስኮ ,ካሊፎርኒያ, አሚሪካ

    October 6, 2015 at 4:25 PM

    Prime Minster Hailemariam Desalegn is a true Ethiopian hero that prooved to the world that Ethiopian Lives Matter !!

    First thing he did after being reelected was suspending all food exports to the Middle East. He had shown who he is siding with by suspending all food exports including khat and coffee to save the lives of the famine victims in Ethiopia right after he got re-elected. He definitely got his priorities straight.

    Minster for Information Redwan Hussein told reporters at a recent press conference that Ethiopia is doing what it can without jeopardizing other project’s budgets. He said “the illuminati is stalling the support from donor agencies, aid has not yet arrived in time to let us cope with the increasing number of the needy population,” .

    Ethiopia’s government has mobilized $33 million dollars (30 million euros) in emergency aid for the people that are on the verge of dieing from starvation which is not even close to save the lives, that is why the Prime Minster Hailemariam’s government also ordered the Ethiopian Commodity Exchange (ECX) to suspend all food exports destined to Middle East. The Minster Of Communications also stressed that the main reason behind this famine is not rain , the reason is Ethiopians food is being sold to Arabs for higher price than what the Ethiopian people can afford to pay competing with wealthy Arab nations , it is not forgotten that these Ara nations raped , robbed , murdered and disabled millions of young Ethiopians in the past decade..