Rapid interventions safeguard livestock in Ethiopia - Yusuf's story

Rapid interventions safeguard livestock in Ethiopia - Yusuf's story

08/03/2018

In 2016, the April to May rains known as the “gu” failed. While livestock farmers like Yusuf Salad were worried, they held high hopes for the “deyr”, which arrive during towards the end of the year. But in the meantime, Yusuf’s animals were becoming hungry and weak. Despite Yusuf’s optimism, when the deyr rains did come, they were poor and erratic and nowhere near enough sufficient to replenish the grazing land on which his animals relied for survival.

Yusuf, his wife and 13 children live in the Dollo Zone of Ethiopia’s Somali Region. When the drought took hold, they migrated between water points, travelling far and wide in search of pasture for their herd. But, little by little, the family’s animals began to fall ill. They became weaker and weaker, sick and unable to walk.

Yusuf heard of assistance being given to farmers like himself in a town named Warder. FAO and other organizations were using various activities to support communities and restore their food security and livelihoods. “We heard food for people was being provided, along with water and animal feed and medicines.”

Yusuf, his family and his small herd of remaining animals – 37 sheep and 25 camels – decided to undertake the four-day journey on foot. “We walked slowly,” he said, “so that the animals could eat what little we found along the way.” In Warder, Yusuf and his herd were assisted by FAO through its Early Warning Early Action (EWEA) programme.

Under the EWEA programme, FAO protected the livestock of 9 600 vulnerable households in high-risk areas in Ethiopia’s Somali Region by providing lifesaving veterinary care, along with animal feed and support to livestock market management that enabled vulnerable households to protect their core breeding stock.

Yusuf himself received 300 kg of concentrated animal feed and 15 multi-nutrient blocks. “We never managed to receive such massive support before this. This help has changed the attitudes of people a lot,” he explained. In addition, his livestock received treatment for anthrax, sheep and goat pox and worms.

“I truly believe that without this support I would have been left with not a single animal. They would all have died. This is the worst drought in my lifetime, and after talking with my father, it’s the worst drought in his too.” Once Yusuf’s animals had regained their strength, he sold 17 sheep and 5 camels, using the money to cover some of his family’s other needs.

By safeguarding his stock, Yusuf was able to maintain their health and condition and get a decent price for them at the peak of the drought. While the drought continues in Ethiopia, Yusuf’s story highlights the importance of protecting livestock to enable farmers to maintain their livelihoods. To FAO, it shows a cost-effective way to save lives and livelihoods and reduce the cost of bigger, more expensive interventions later on.