The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) is providing immediate livestock protectionto drought-affected pastoral and agro-pastoral communities in Ethiopia.
Funded by the United Nations Central Emergency Response Fund (UN CERF) and the Humanitarian Aid Department of the European Commission (ECHO), FAO is carrying out treatment campaigns and helping households to sell their animals to generate cash and reduce pressure on limited available pasture. Communities are also being provided with livestock feed and cash transfers to meet other essential needs. Meanwhile FAO has been raising awareness on the Livestock Emergency Guidelines and Standards (LEGS), a key handbook for designing, implementing and assessing livestock interventions to assist people affected by humanitarian crises.
Sending off a consignment of veterinary drugs from the capital Addis Ababa to the Oromia and Somali regions, Dr. Alemayehu Mekonnen, Chief Veterinary Officer from the Ministry of Agriculture, thanked FAO for the intervention. He said the Organization has historically played a key role in responding to livestock emergencies and diseases, including the eradication of Rinderpest in Ethiopia. “These veterinary drugs and animal feed will reduce the effects of drought on the pastoral and agro-pastoral livelihoods,” he said.
The livestock sector in Ethiopia is one of the largest in Africa, contributing nearly 20 percent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and 15 percent of export earnings. Livestock are a source of protein-rich food (such as milk, meat, and eggs) and provide income, manure, draught power, fuel and leather. The sector supports the livelihoods of about 80 percent of rural people in Ethiopia.
However, the destructive effects of climate extremes are affecting the well-being, productive and reproductive capacities of the nations livestock: recurring droughts and low overall rainfall have impacted forage production, water availability and rangeland vegetation patterns, and are heightening the susceptibility of livestock to diseases. As a result, households coping abilities have declined to the point where there is a growing threat to the survival of viable pastoral production systems – and thereby of the communities themselves.
The FAO Representative in Ethiopia, Ms. Fatouma Seid, said the Organizations interventions are targeting 151 000 households (more than 750 000 people) and would contribute to restoring the health and body conditions of livestock and reduce mortality rates. “Ultimately, the aim is to safeguard livelihoods of the targeted communities and accelerate their recovery from the effects of recurrent drought,” she said.
The “Emergency livestock response to drought-affected pastoral and agro-pastoral communities in Afar, Oromia, Somali and the Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples (SNNP) regions of Ethiopia” project is being implemented in close collaboration with international, regional, and national organizations and Ethiopias Ministry of Agriculture.