40 year old Hassna Hassen lives with her four children in Bisle district in Ethiopia’s Somali region, one of the hardest hit by the ongoing drought, owing to two consecutive failed rains. Just as the many pastoralist families living in the Somali region, Hassna’s livestock have been decimated by lack of pasture and water.
‘There has not been any rain in the last four months. We are entering the dry season which we all know will be tough but this time last year there was more pasture so we weren’t this worried about the animals. This year, barely any have made it. We never expected that things would get this bad,’ she says. “It has also been very difficult to find food and milk for the children. I used to borrow from my neighbours but there’s little to share so I’m now forced to use my savings to buy what I can from the city. Other times, we only have the wheat that the government provides. There is not really enough food for everyone but we try and share.’’
Still reeling from the effects of a devastating, El Nino driven drought in 2015/16, Ethiopia is now engulfed in a new drought that has left 5.6 million people in need of emergency food assistance. Water shortages have reached critical levels contributing to the closure of 159 schools (more than 100,000 children out of school).
But Oxfam is there, delivering clean water to the most affected. So far, over 263,000 people half of whom are women have received clean safe water. Hassna has similarly benefitted from Oxfams WASH assistance where emergency water was trucked for people in the IDP camps along with a cash transfer that gave people the power and a better option to alternate and purchase essential items for their children.
“At least we know that there is a place with clean water,” Hassna continues. “We used to have to fetch water from a water point that is far from home. One evening we sent a few people from the family to get water and they did not make it back until noon the next day. I also appreciate that Oxfam understands the importance of out livestock because they are our livelihood.”
“I don’t worry about water issues anymore because Oxfam have been a huge help to us and our community; you have reduced our burden immensely. We feel cared for,” Hassna concludes.