COVID-19, Extreme Weather, Locusts Create Massive Needs Gap in Ethiopia – IRC

The International Rescue Committee (IRC) says it is working to safeguard the lives of affected and at-risk communities in Ethiopia from the COVID-19 pandemic by raising community awareness on COVID-19 risk factors.

COVID-19, flooding and the locusts’ outbreak are creating a humanitarian crisis in the horn of Africa nation with many people unable to meet their daily food needs.

Recent heavy rainfall has led to flooding, resulting in the destruction of crops, loss of livestock and displacement. Swarms of multiplying desert locusts have also been destroying pastures and crops, leading to further food insecurity. Some areas are recording admissions for severe acute malnutrition at 50% higher than for the same period last year.

A massive twelvefold increase in Covid-19 cases between June and September is further compounding needs as families have been unable to obtain income or access food due to movement restrictions. Ethiopia currently holds the highest Covid-19 caseload in East Africa.

Concerned by the massive need in Ethiopia, the IRC says it is working to safeguard the lives of affected and at-risk communities from the COVID-19 pandemic by raising community awareness on COVID-19 risk factors, providing personal protective equipment, building and installing water points to help people practice preventive methods.

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The IRC is assisting desert locusts and flood-affected households with multi-purpose cash transfer and non-food items to fill food security gaps and provide relief.

Frank McManus, IRC Ethiopia Country Director says, “the multiple issues of flooding, locusts, intercommunal violence and COVID-19 are highly concerning given the already massive humanitarian needs in the country. The slowdown of the economy and lockdown restrictions mean that people have not been able to access income and there is an upward pressure on food prices.”

“Over 19 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance in Ethiopia. This is four times the number of people displaced in 2019, as a result of the flooding. More than 300,000 people have been displaced in 2020 and have had their homes and livelihoods lost or damaged. A total of over 1 million people have been adversely affected by the floods overall. With the spread of COVID-19, people who have been displaced are amongst the most vulnerable due to the often congested living space, compromised health conditions, and inadequate access to basic services. The IRC is providing essential support through distributions of non-food items, including emergency shelter, household goods, hygiene kits, and cash assistance to over 36,500 affected people.”

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“Despite the IRC’s work, the unmet humanitarian needs are still great. With more funding for our work, we will be able to reach even more people with the critical support they desperately need after losing their homes and livelihoods.”

Ethiopia has suffered decades of drought, inter communal eruptions of violence, disease outbreaks and flooding. Whilst grappling with development and humanitarian needs, Ethiopia is also a major host country for refugees in the region. In a highly complex humanitarian setting with seven million people who are acutely food insecure, IRC is working to ramp up support to those most in need.

The IRC has been working in Ethiopia since 1999 implementing emergency and development work in rural communities and 21 refugee camps, reaching over 3.2 million clients in FY18 through programs in environmental health, health education, child protection, economic recovery and development, women’s protection and empowerment in six regions across the country.

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