Projects HRF SITI and Emergency Drought Response

Project Overview

Country

Ethiopia

Project name

HRF SITI 

Project status

Completed

Duration of the project

Start: 21.07.2015
End: 15.07.2016
12 months

Budget

CHF 590’447

Donors

UN OCHA, Swiss Solidarity

Project area

Topics

Tags

Background

Sitti zone is the northernmost part of Ethiopia’s Somali region. There are approximately 522,000 people living there. 75 – 85 % of the people are nomads who rely on their livestock for survival. They keep sheep, goats, cattle, and camels.

The emergency situation which is occurring right now is based on the irregularity of the main rainy seasons. Gu/Dirra rainy season typically occurs from the middle of March until the middle of May, and Karan rainy season typically lasts from July until the middle of September. However, both rainy seasons have happened only sparse since 2014, and many regions of Sitti zone haven’t had rain at all. Hence these regions have to fight critical water shortage, nutrition based health problems, and sparse pasture areas ever since. These factors lead to catastrophic nutrition insecurity in the region’s poorer households.

Such an extreme drought hasn’t occurred in Sitti zone for 30 years. The results of the lack of rainy days and the following nutrition insecurity have not only an effect on the region’s livestock but also the people:

As there aren’t enough water and pasture left, livestock are losing weight dramatically. Thus their productivity is declining: They give less milk and meat. Under-nourished animals sell for less money than well-nourished though, which means that the livestock’s market value has decreased enormously. At the same time the animals have become prone to diseases. In the month of April 2015 alone, there were 2,000 livestock dying in Ayisha district which consists of 58,064 people. At the end of the year 2015, half of the livestock have migrated out of Sitti zone by themselves in order to find food elsewhere. Of the remaining animals, 85 % have by now died. Alarmingly, not even the peoples’ survival is guaranteed anymore. The consequences of the lack of livestock are malnutrition because of limited consumption of milk, dairy products, and meat, as well as increased vulnerability and proneness to diseases and even dying.

The next rainy season is expected to occur in March 2016. Until then the nomads have to survive on extremely little water and very few, emaciated livestock. Ground water to drink is scarce, and both animals and people don’t have any solids to eat. To absorb the effects of the malnutrition, VSF-Suisse engages in the projects of HRF SITI and Swiss Solidarity’s “Emergency Drought Response”.

Project:

Sitti zone is the northernmost part of Ethiopia’s Somali region. There are approximately 522,000 people living there. 75 – 85 % of the people are nomads who rely on their livestock for survival. They keep sheep, goats, cattle, and camels.

The emergency situation which is occurring right now is based on the irregularity of the main rainy seasons. Gu/Dirra rainy season typically occurs from the middle of March until the middle of May, and Karan rainy season typically lasts from July until the middle of September. However, both rainy seasons have happened only sparse since 2014, and many regions of Sitti zone haven’t had rain at all. Hence these regions have to fight critical water shortage, nutrition based health problems, and sparse pasture areas ever since. These factors lead to catastrophic nutrition insecurity in the region’s poorer households.

Such an extreme drought hasn’t occurred in Sitti zone for 30 years. The results of the lack of rainy days and the following nutrition insecurity have not only an effect on the region’s livestock but also the people:

As there aren’t enough water and pasture left, livestock are losing weight dramatically. Thus their productivity is declining: They give less milk and meat. Under-nourished animals sell for less money than well-nourished though, which means that the livestock’s market value has decreased enormously. At the same time the animals have become prone to diseases. In the month of April 2015 alone, there were 2,000 livestock dying in Ayisha district which consists of 58,064 people. At the end of the year 2015, half of the livestock have migrated out of Sitti zone by themselves in order to find food elsewhere. Of the remaining animals, 85 % have by now died. Alarmingly, not even the peoples’ survival is guaranteed anymore. The consequences of the lack of livestock are malnutrition because of limited consumption of milk, dairy products, and meat, as well as increased vulnerability and proneness to diseases and even dying.

The next rainy season is expected to occur in March 2016. Until then the nomads have to survive on extremely little water and very few, emaciated livestock. Ground water to drink is scarce, and both animals and people don’t have any solids to eat. To absorb the effects of the malnutrition, VSF-Suisse engages in the projects of HRF SITI and Swiss Solidarity’s “Emergency Drought Response”.

Project

The beneficiaries of the distribution of meat within the “Emergency Drought Response” project are people suffering from moderate acute malnutrition(“MAM”). . The people hit by severe acute malnutrition (“SAM”) are being taken care of by the Ethiopian government and a few other NGO. (SAM – „Severe Acute Malnutrition“). To prevent the further weakening of the people affected by MAM, VSF-Suisse is distributing meat among them. This is happening via blanket food distribution. As the nomads are used to animal foods they are being given goat meat and camel meat. Both meats are high in nutrients and their consumption is consistent with nomadic beliefs and traditions.

To save the few remaining livestock fodder is being distributed extensively. As the livestock typically are the only assets and thus the sole base of life for nomads, it is imperative to save as many as possible.

Beneficiaries of the distribution of milking goats within project HRF SITI are primarily under 5 year old children, pregnant women, and breastfeeding mothers. With distribution milking goats among them, the vulnerability of the families’ weakest members decreases, which helps the families’ and the community as a whole. There are also abandoned water points being rehabilitated, which, again, helps the community as a whole.

Children in arid and semi-arid areas often only eat imported grains, as on the one hand fresh fruit and vegetables are rare, and on the other hand during droughts livestock are too emaciated to give enough milk. Hence toddlers are often underweight, too small for their age, wasted, and emaciated. The often suffer from various vitamin deficiencies such as Vitamin A-deficiency, zinc deficiency, and iron deficiency. By allocating animal foods (ASF – Animal Source Food).among the families of little children, these symptoms of malnutrition can be brought under control rather quickly. Animal foods are full of nutrients and easy to digest. These should be the foods of choice in the fight against malnutrition in arid and semi-arid lands. In addition to that, with the allocation of animal foods the nomads’ lifestyle is supported. Hence Hence it becomes easier for them to break through the cycle of recurring nutrient deficiency and dependence on expensive crop imports and grain imports. In addition to caring for the youngest members of the communities, the allocation of milking goats leads to an increase in self-worth as they become able to breed herds by themselves, and live off these sustainably and without being dependent on the help of others.

There isn’t even a whole lot needed in order to achieve this: 2 young and well-fed milking goats give enough milk for 5 children to live off them well. During scarce times, when food and water are rare and goats have become emaciated, 2 of them are still sufficient to feed 2 children completely. An entire family can live off a goat herd containing 7 goats and 1 billy goat well as these provide them with enough milk to drink themselves and even produce dairy products such as yogurt. With a herd they can breed young animals themselves, and later even produce meat and leather.

Additionally, through the milking goat distribution money is injected into regional markets, because the nomads are trading with the bred young animals. By selling these young animals, families can make an entire income for themselves and thus live independently in a sustainable fashion.

Then of course there is nutrition training for the people, especially pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers. In addition to that, women are often the ones being responsible for caring for the animals, animal husbandry, and the processing of animal produce. Hence they are becoming treasured parts of the communities.

As naturally only healthy animals can be the base of the nomads’ livelihoods, the livestock have to be treated by veterinarians from time to time. VSF-Suisse hands out vouchers for veterinarian treatment to all beneficiaries. In case of an emergency the nomads can take their goats to lay veterinarians, so-called community animal health workers (CAHWs),who then deworm and vaccine the goats for free.

Another element of the project is the installation of village community banks (VICOBAs). (VICOBAS – „Village Community Banks“). There mostly women or members of the most vulnerable families are being employed in order to help them be able to build their own income. VICOBAS administer money reserves that can be given to poor members of the community in case of need. Thus even the most vulnerable families who don’t have enough livestock to live off from during droughts can buy food.

The knowledge about livestock care, animal husbandry, livestock trade, and processing of livestock products such as yogurt or leather is re-taught among the community members. It ensures that the nomadic communities can sustainably build their resilience against disasters and resulting lack of food. The resilience of the nomadic communities is thus strengthened.

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