During a recent visit to the Afar region United States Ambassador to Ethiopia Patricia Haslach had an opportunity to evaluate the efficacy of U.S. government-supported response to the severe drought affecting much of Ethiopia.
Ambassador Haslach and Ethiopia’s Minister of Tourism and Culture Aisha Mohammed, first visited a rural school in Mille Woreda district that receives nutritional support from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The McGovern-Dole School Feeding Program, as it is formally known, provides a nutritious mid-morning meal to 91,000 primary-aged students in Afar, who often arrive to school hungry. This regular meal promotes increased attendance and leads to improved academic performance.
The Ambassador later visited a USAID-supported water rehabilitation project serving 300 households in Mille Woreda. The project, which has been replicated in various regions around the country, helped revitalize an unused water source with the installation of a gasoline-run generator and piping systems, construction of a reservoir, tap stand, and cattle trough. Now, this small community has access to safe, clean water and doesn’t need to relocate.
Finally, Ambassador Haslach visited an Emergency Operation Center in the regional capital of Semera to discuss the response of federal and regional authorities, and their international partners, to the drought, and the more recent flooding, in Afar.
Ambassador Haslach met with Seyoum Awe, the Regional President of Afar, to discuss U.S. response to the drought and current conditions. She also emphasized the importance of both the private sector and non-traditional partners in developing the water supply sector.
The United States is proud to partner with Ethiopia to mitigate the impact of the drought. Nonetheless, the next several months will be difficult. The rains have come, but it takes time from rain to grain.After several failed growing seasons, millions will be wholly dependent upon food assistance until the autumn harvest. Health resources will also be stretched, as vulnerability to diseases increases when people are in a weakened state.
Ethiopia has done a commendable job in weathering this drought so far. Development gains have provided the country with greater resilience than ever, and the Government and international community reacted quickly and robustly. However, there is still some way to go before victory can be declared.