Golecha Deba, "If it rains, I will even crawl on my knees and plant"

At 96, Golecha Deba, an agro-pastoralist from Dikicha village, in southern Ethiopia's drought-hit Oromiya region, about 20km from Kenya’s northeastern border, has seen several cycles of drought, but never as severe as this one. He spoke to IRIN about living in an area classified by the UN as one step away from famine:

"I have lived long enough, I never thought I would see a day like this. Even my father never told me of such a day. When I was a boy we had seasons of bad rains but never like this.

"My [five] sons and I lost 28 livestock in May this year. Our livestock is our savings, our life, and our children.

"We have not had a drop of rain for over a year. If it rains, I will even crawl on my knees and plant my seeds.

"I cannot think of migrating, if I do, I will become fertiliser for the land [will die]. My sons cannot think of migrating, as they will not leave me. This is our land; we were born here. We cannot think of doing anything else - if we do we will be like fish outside the water - helpless.

"We don't know what is happening, it is God's will. He has decided to have this drought - we wait and see. I cannot think what will happen if it does not rain in October.

"In the past we have always managed. We grow sorghum, barley and teff. We even managed to sell some in the neighbouring town [Hidi].

“Now we are getting some cereals as food aid. We are surviving on that but for how long we don’t know.”