Drought-stricken herders in Ethiopia in urgent need of support: FAO

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A village in Ethiopia weathers the drought where many have lost their livestock. Photo: FAO/Tamiru Legesse

Drought-stricken livestock herders in Ethiopia are in urgent need of support as the number of people going hungry rises each day.

That's according to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), which said on Friday that for families dependent on cattle, their animals' survival "can literally mean the difference between life and death".

More details from Matt Wells.

Drought has devastated herders' livelihoods; exhausting pastures, water sources and led to thousands of animals dying or falling ill – particularly in the southern and south-eastern regions of the country.

Rains have failed three consecutive years now, leaving around 8.5 million Ethiopians suffering from hunger, a third of whom are in the pastoralists heartland – the Somali region.

This year alone, the number going hungry has risen by 5.6 million nationwide.

The collapse of the herders' livelihoods has had a major effect on the current food crisis, especially for children – and pregnant and nursing women – who depend on milk for its valuable nutrients.

FAO is focussing on providing livestock support through animal vaccination and treatment; supplementary food and water; and supporting feed production.

Abdoul Karim Bah, FAO Deputy Representative in Ethiopia, said that it was "crucial to provide this support between now and October, when rains are due" so that the recovery process could get underway.

"If we don't act now, hunger and malnutrition will only get worse", he added.

Matt Wells, United Nations.

Duration: 1'02"

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