Coping with drought in the Afar region
The alarming situation of thousands of families and children facing the lack of water in one of the most arid regions in Ethiopia
For several months, the population has been suffering the consequences of the drought that is currently affecting this arid region of Afar in northern Ethiopia. The lack of water forces families and people displaced by the conflict to travel long distances to get water. On World Water Day, we followed the journey of Fatuma Mahi, 23 years old.
“I spend an average of five to six hours a day on the road.”
“I live 10 kilometers from the nearest water point located in the village of Kori Fenti,” said Fatuma. “For five months now since the end of the rainy season, I leave every morning at dawn with my three donkeys to fetch water. Many women from all over the area come here to get water and from 10 am the heat is very intense, so we must be quick. Once the jerry cans are filled, I immediately take the road again. I spend an average of five to six hours a day on the road.”
With financial support from the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF), a drinking water supply system has been installed in Kori Fenti. The borehole, powered by a solar panel system, distributes water to 3 points in the village and also provides a water point for cattle. The water source that feeds the system is the only one available to the 15 kebeles (sub districts) that make up the Kori woreda (district). Like Fatuma, an estimated 10,500 people (4,500 of whom are villagers and the other 6,000 from neighboring sub districts) rely on the Kori Fenti drinking water system during the dry season.
“I have 4 children, the youngest is less than a year old. Every time I go away, I leave them with my mother. But this year the lean season is particularly long so I am very worried. The next rains are not expected to arrive before August. People are hungry and thirsty. The livestock is also very weak. If this continues, we will not be able to cope, so I pray every day that the rains will come in abundance,” concludes Fatuma.
The CERF is a humanitarian fund established by the General Assembly in 2006 to ensure that reliable humanitarian assistance reaches people affected by natural disasters and armed conflict more quickly. The CERF is replenished annually by contributions from governments and the private sector and thus provides a reserve pool of funds to support humanitarian action.