Cyclone set to help drought-stricken regions

Ethiopia’s drought-stricken pastoralist areas look set to benefit from much needed rain, the US Famine Early Warning System (FEWS) has said.

A tropical cyclone off the coast of Somalia is likely to result in heavy rains in pastoralist areas in eastern and southern Ethiopia which are currently reeling from drought.

The federal authorities have already warned that water shortages in certain parts of Somali Region are reaching “emergency proportions” after failed rains.

“For areas within its expected landfall, there are concerns for potential heavy rains and strong winds,” FEWS noted.

“Its positive impact will be beneficial rains in the drought prone areas… as well as parts of the neighbouring pastoral livelihood zones in Kenya and Ethiopia.”

FEWS, funded by the US Agency for International Development (USAID), warned that the region could be hard hit by the storm which has winds of up to 70 knots.

The deyr rains – which are supposed to start in October and are now a month late – are critical for pastoralists in Somali region in eastern Ethiopia.

Wagdi Othman, spokesman from the UN’s World Food Programme, said that massive migration in certain areas was putting extra pressure on already dwindling water points.

“However, the high dependency of the pastoralist population of the region on the biannual rainfall cycle means that stressful water and pasture shortages, due to delays or a rain failure, can quickly depress the food security situation,” he said.

Meanwhile, the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said that “concern is rising in pastoral areas” especially along the Kenyan border.

They stated in a weekly relief report that despite localised “light showers” emergency contingency plans are being drawn up to combat a looming crisis.