1.5 million cattle die due to record drought in Africa

The worst drought in decades is ravaging the lives of ranchers in Ethiopia.

April is considered one of the wettest months of the year in Ethiopia, but in the Somali village of Hargududo in the southeast of the country, the air is still very hot, dry and dusty and cracked next to the barren soil. It has hardly rained a drop in Hargududo in the past 18 months.

According to the United Nations, the worst drought in decades in the Horn of Africa is driving 20 million people to starvation and destroying the region’s long-standing nomadic and semi-nomadic lifestyles.

1.5 million cattle died from the record drought

Cattle are dying due to drought in Ethiopia. Video: AFP

Footage taken in April shows dead goats, cows and donkeys strewn near the shabby thatched huts, severely affecting the lives of 200 livestock households in Hargududo.

“Many people had 300 goats before the drought, now there are only 50 to 60 left. Some families don’t even have livestock anymore,” Hussein Habil, 52, a villager from Hargududo, told me. AFP.

Not only Hargududo, everywhere in southern Ethiopia a tragic story is taking place. The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs estimates that up to 6.5 million people in Ethiopia – more than 6% of the population – are severely food insecure due to the drought.

Lack of rain has killed nearly 1.5 million livestock, about two-thirds of them in the Somali region, showing “how alarming the situation has become”. Even the animals that survived were so skinny that their value dropped.

“Before this drought we were purely nomadic, dependent on animals for meat, milk and money. But today most of us are settled in villages. There is no future for us. Nomadic life because there are no more animals to herd. Ours The nomadic life is over,” said Tarik Muhamad (50 years old), a herdsman in Hargududo.

In East Africa, the frequency of droughts has doubled from every six to every three years since 2005, according to the latest report from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. In arid and semi-arid regions, some droughts have lasted unusually long.

“It used to rain elsewhere in the area, so we moved the cattle to the irrigated pastures, even if it took a few days. But this time the drought was everywhere. The well is dry, there are no grazing animals. I’ve seen goats eat their own dung, camels eat other camels. I’ve never seen that in my life,” Abdi Kabe Adan (50 years old), another herdsman in Hargududo, shared tears and prayed for the rains to return soon.

Doan Duong (Corresponding AFP)