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In Ethiopia, Worst Drought in 50 Years

An emaciated cow walks in one of the drought stricken areas of Oromia region, in Ethiopia, April 28, 2016.

Ethiopia is facing the worst drought the country has experienced in half a century.

Ethiopia is facing the worst drought the country has experienced in half a century. Triggered by El Nino, the drought follows two consecutive poor harvests--a disaster in this country of 90 million people where the vast majority subsist on rain-dependent agriculture. In the worst-hit areas, the drought has killed nearly all crops. Failed crops means little food for people and no fodder for livestock, causing cattle to die by the hundreds of thousands.

In Ethiopia, Worst Drought in 50 Years
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And then, in April, torrential rains began to drench the cement-hard soil of the parched Ethiopian country side, causing flooding and displacing thousands of people. Today, some 10 to 20 million Ethiopians are in need of aid. An estimated 435,000 children need treatment for severe acute malnutrition, and up to 2.5 million children, pregnant women and nursing mothers are in need of supplementary feeding.

The United States announced that it is adding 128 million dollars to the more than 570 million we have already delivered to Ethiopia, said Acting Assistant Administrator for the Bureau of Democracy, Conflict, and Humanitarian Affairs Thomas Staal. "This new funding underscores the United States' commitment to working with Ethiopia to prevent this drought from becoming a humanitarian catastrophe," he said.

The funds will provide fundamental humanitarian aid, including relief food assistance, safe drinking water, malnutrition treatment, mobile health teams, and seeds for planting. This contribution supports the food requirement needed for the next three critical months. But so much more is needed. Ethiopia has requested aid to the tune of 1.4 billion dollars.

The United States is delivering vitally important humanitarian aid to the Ethiopian people, and we call on our friends and partners to join us in alleviating this potential humanitarian disaster.