PQMD Member International Medical Corps Takes Action Against Ethiopia’s Widespread Drought

Over the past year in Ethiopia, two seasons of inadequate rainfall and the drastic climactic effects of El Nino have left regions throughout the country in severe states of drought. The widespread phenomenon has affected agricultural and livestock production as well as causing declines in food security, nutrition, and overall public health. Lack of water availability is also increasing the population’s susceptibility to water-borne diseases.

IMC Ethiopia Ethiopia's Widespread Drought

International Medical Corps responds to devastating Ethiopian drought. (Source: IMC)

The Government of Ethiopia and its partners have attempted to mitigate the consequences of the drought, but nation-wide needs have overwhelmed available services – even with the government’s commitment of $381 million of its own funds in response to the crisis. An estimated 10.2 million are in need of humanitarian food assistance and approximately 5.8 million individuals across Ethiopia are in critical need of safe, adequate, and appropriate water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) services.

International Medical Corps, a member of PQMD since 2005, has been operating in Ethiopia since 2003. Its ongoing and diverse efforts include resilience programs to mitigate the impact of drought and food security on communities; prevention against gender based violence; and increasing access to all forms of health care for Africa’s largest refugee population (with a count having risen over 600,000).

In the midst of the country’s intense drought however, an increased focus has been placed upon nutrition and WASH programs to address the immediate needs for millions of individuals and families in need.

International Medical Corps treats malnutrition cases at health facilities like stabilization centers and outpatient therapeutic programs.  In these facilities, International Medical Corps helps ensure that families have access to ready-to-eat therapeutic food by maintaining the supply chain and delivery of supplies – including delivery by donkey in the most remote areas.  In addition, International Medical Corps teams have trained local health workers on screening and treatment for malnutrition – helping meet immediate needs and building capacity for the health system to address future crises.

To improve access to clean water, International Medical Corps has been rehabilitating wells and repairing damaged water systems, benefiting thousands of individuals in regions where International Medical Corps is active. They provide critical access to clean water, which in turn promotes healthier living. Promoting hygiene and sanitation decrease the chances of communicable disease spreading, which often exacerbate malnutrition and other problems caused by droughts.