Belgian-FAO support to El Niño-affected pastoralists in Somali Region of Ethiopia strengthens livestock-based livelihoods

Belgian-FAO support to El Niño-affected pastoralists in Somali Region of Ethiopia strengthens livestock-based livelihoods

26/05/2016

Livestock owners affected by the drought in Ethiopia are receiving critical livelihood recovery assistance thanks to Belgium’s USD 500 000 contribution to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).

The El Niño-induced drought crisis in Ethiopia has left a devastating trail of animal losses. Hundreds of thousands of livestock – mainly cattle and small ruminants – have succumbed to drought conditions, leaving thousands of pastoral and agropastoral households dependent on external assistance. Three years of poor rainfall in Siti Zone of Somali Region have left livestock owners facing losses as high as 80 percent for small ruminants and 40 percent for cattle. While the belg (spring) rains have arrived in most of the country, the regeneration of pasture has generally been slow, delaying recovery.

In response, FAO has been working closely with Government, NGO and resource partners to support drought-hit communities. Thanks to funding from the Government of Belgium, FAO is providing pastoral livelihood support to 12 500 livestock-dependent households.

In addition to the USD 500 000 provided for this project, Belgian funding has been critical to the success of FAO’s response to the El Niño-induced emergency in Ethiopia. Belgium’s generous donations to FAO’s Special Fund for Emergency and Rehabilitation Activities have enabled FAO to quickly and flexibly respond to the crisis. Since SFERA’s inception in 2004, Belgium has contributed over USD 30 million, making it the top donor to the fund to-date and one of the most rapid and proactive donors for agriculture and food security.

Under the Belgian-funded project, FAO purchased 4 381 small ruminants, providing a financial boost for 3 214 livestock sellers and improved nutritional intake for 4 354 vulnerable households. To strengthen the health of herds, FAO is providing supplementary animal feed (e.g. sugar by-products, rich in essential minerals) and survival feed in the form of multinutrient blocks to livestock-dependent households.

In May, a delegation comprising Belgian, Ethiopian and FAO officials met with community leaders and development agents while on a mission to a FAO-supported livelihoods diversification project in the community of Gota in Siti Zone. While in Gota, the Belgian Ambassador to Ethiopia, His Excellency Ambassador Didier Nagant de Deuxchaisnes, remarked on the success of his government’s collaboration with FAO and emphasized the need for greater support to Ethiopia’s El Niño emergency response. “The response to the El Niño crisis has been positive and we should continue to collaborate strongly with international organizations and partners such as FAO to support the Ethiopian Government,” he stated.

Mr Mohamed Ibrahim, regional government official and resilience project coordinator, expressed the Government’s commitment to working with FAO to develop long-lasting solutions to this and other crises. “Sustainable forage development and access to water for animals are long-term solutions to the livestock-related challenges of the region. Our partnership with FAO has enabled us to achieve some of these goals,” said Mr Ibrahim.

The FAO Representative to Ethiopia, Mr Amadou Allahoury, emphasized the Organization’s commitment to sustainable interventions in the livestock sector. “In the long run, we will focus on building the resilience of communities and strengthening their capacities to withstand future shocks. Our priorities and those of the regional and federal government have been harmonized through frequent dialogue and joint planning,” he said. 

The Government of Ethiopia has declared that USD 30 million is urgently needed to support the livestock sector until the belg assessment is conducted in June and more accurate figures are available. To contribute to this need, FAO is appealing for USD 7.8 million to provide urgent supplementary feeding, support forage development, rehabilitate water points and administer animal health support. These activities fall under FAO Ethiopia’s El Niño Response Plan, which has called for USD 50 million to implement emergency and recovery activities in 2016. To-date, the Response Plan is just 22 percent funded.