Rapid interventions safeguard livestock in Ethiopia - Hany's storyhany

Rapid interventions safeguard livestock in Ethiopia - Hany's story

08/03/2018

After one failed rainy season after another in Ethiopia’s Somali Region, Hany Abdullahi Aaden was increasingly worried about the survival of her livestock. Hany lives in Daratole District with her husband, six sons and two daughters. As rains have repeatedly failed, the soil, once brown has turned sandy and an arid red. There’s little or no grass for Hany’s animals.

Drought is a recurring hazard in Ethiopia, with various degrees of intensity and frequency across the country. Evidence suggests climate change may be driving the increased frequency. The lack of rainfall has fuelled a worsening food crisis. As a livestock farmer, Hany’s livelihood depends on the rains. Her herd of just over a hundred goats, sheep and cattle provide nutrient-rich milk and meat for her children. When she needed, she could also sell some animals to generate income. “Life was relatively good at that time,” she said.

Drought, according to Hany, “impacts women and children much differently to men”. The milk from livestock is essential for nutrition, which supports the health of mothers, particularly when pregnant or breastfeeding. The meat also provides a critical source of protein for children. But, as animals get weaker and sicker, this food source is lost. Hany was further worried about the “increased workload for women to maintain our homes - looking after weak animals, collecting firewood and water and selling charcoal”.

As the drought went on and most of Hany’s livestock started to struggle, Hany began searching for ways to protect them. In her district, FAO launched an Early Warning – Early Action (EWEA) programme to support over 9 600 farmers in the same situation.

Hany received nutritional blocks and 480 kg of supplementary feed from FAO, which meant she was able to keep her core breeding livestock alive while they regained their strength. Hany says they are now “strong enough to eat the grass which grew after some recent light rainfall.” Hany’s next hope was that her recovered animals will again be able to breed and give her family milk once again.

As drought continues to affect rural families in parts of Ethiopia, Hany’s story highlights the importance of mitigating these events and the need for investing on resilience building efforts. FAO has recognized the importance of taking action before a crisis escalates into an emergency to save lives and livelihoods. Stepping in early builds families’ resilience and reduces both disaster losses and the costs of emergency response.