Timely agricultural assistance for the upcoming rainy season is essential to help the drought-affected people of Ethiopia.
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One of the strongest El Niño events on record continues to have devastating effects on the lives and livelihoods of farmers and herders.
Humanitarian needs in Ethiopia have tripled since the beginning of 2015 as the drought has led to successive crop failures and widespread livestock deaths.
As a result, food insecurity and malnutrition rates are alarming in the Horn of Africa country, with some 10.2 million people now food insecure. One-quarter of all districts in Ethiopia are officially classified as facing a food security and nutrition crisis.
With planting for the country's first rainy season, the belg, already delayed and the meher season - Ethiopia's main agricultural campaign - fast approaching, farmers need immediate support to help them produce food between now and September for millions facing hunger.
"FAO urgently needs $13 million by the end of March to support more than 600,000 of the worst affected people," said FAO country representative Amadou Allahoury Diallo.
"We're expecting that needs will be particularly high during the next few weeks," he added, "so it's critical that we're able to respond quickly and robustly to reboot agriculture now before the drought further decimates the food security and livelihoods of millions."
The meher produces up to 85 percent of the nation's food supplies.
Recent estimates by Ethiopia's Bureau of Agriculture indicate that some 7.5 million farmers and herders need immediate agricultural support to produce staple crops like maize, sorghum, teff, wheat, and root crops, and livestock feed to keep their animals healthy and resume production.
Farming families have either exhausted seed reserves through successive failed plantings, or have consumed them as food.
The government of Egypt has donated $1 million in emergency aid to the World Food Program to assist drought affected people in Ethiopia, WFP said.
With this contribution, WFP will be able to buy more than 1,700 metric tons of food to provide family rations of cereals, pulses and vegetable oil to some people hit hardest by the drought in pastoralist areas, the Country Director said. ■
A significant heavy rainfall event is forecast for the Southwest as a mid-level low and anomalously high moisture associated with a remnant tropical wave help to enhance storm development associated with an already active monsoon.