Horn of Africa: Providing some relief for people displaced by drought

Mohammed now runs a tea stand. IOM/Rahel Negussie

Ethiopia and Somalia. “I have never seen this kind of drought in my life,” says Mohammed, who lives in Garbo, a town in Ethiopia’s Somali region. “I thought it was just an old wives’ tale my grandfather used to tell me. Now it is my reality.” Mohammed is a pastoralist who had to leave his home in the village of Seeley. The drought killed all his livestock in 2022, so he was forced to move to Garbo.  

The Horn of Africa is experiencing the most severe drought in recent history, following four consecutive failed rainy seasons in parts of Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia, a climactic event not seen in 40 years.

Humanitarian organizations estimate that more than 2,200 people have migrated to Garbo in the last five years, with more coming all the time as the drought made earning a living with animals almost impossible. Halimo had a similar story to Mohammed. “I lost all my livestock,” she explains. “We survived, but we lost our livelihoods.”

In neighbouring Somalia, Agbal faced a similar situation, forcing her to make an almost impossible choice. A mother of nine, she and her husband were constantly on the move in search of work, leaving the children with family members back home. “When it became hard to get by, I left my baby at home to earn a living,” she explains, noting she had to stop breastfeeding him and rely on others to bottle feed him.

Across Ethiopia and Somalia hundreds of thousands of people are on the move because the drought is making their livelihoods impossible. Part of a broader regional drought across the Horn of Africa, it drove millions of people to move and seek support in 2022.

With support from the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF), the International Organization for Migration provided drought-affected people in Garbo with cash assistance. Each of the nearly 2,000 households displaced across 18 villages in Garbo received the equivalent of USD 167, to help them with the basics.

Cash assistance is flexible, because it provides a lifeline and allows people to choose what they need to help them get back on their feet. Halimo and Mohammed also found new ways to earn a living and support their families. Mohammed has opened a tea shop. Halimo is delivering water to her neighbours, using a donkey she bought with the help of cash aid.

Back in Puntland, Somalia, Agbal brought baby Cahdi to a WFP-supported health center when she saw he was unwell, and he was able to get the help he needed. CERF funding supported nutrition help for Agbal’s baby and thousands of other affected children, as well as direct food assistance for 4.7 million people.

CERF allocated US$65 million in 2022 so that UN agencies could deliver immediate food, health, logistics, protection, shelter, and water and sanitation assistance. This included allocations for Ethiopia ($12 million), Djibouti ($2 million), Kenya ($10 million), and Somalia ($41 million) (more information on CERF DataHub). The Ethiopia and Somalia Humanitarian Funds respectively allocated $22.5 million and $54.8 million to scale up their drought response, focusing on enabling local and national partners to reach people in the hardest-to-reach and least served areas.

Based on original reporting from CERF partner IOM.

More information about the CERF allocations:
CERF datahub

More information on the OCHA pooled funds support to the drought:
Pooled funds datahub