Rehabilitation of Borehole Saves Thousands of Lives and Livestock during Drought

By Ayuko Matsuhashi

A signboard on the sight of rehabilitated borehole
A signboard on the sight of the rehabilitated borehole ©UNICEF/2017/Tsegaye

HARSHIM, SOMALI, 19 January 2017 – “For three months, the borehole was not functional and people suffered a lot. There was little rain, so most of the birkas[1] became empty. Additionally, water from birkas is usually contaminated so we suffered from diarrhoea,” Muse Hassan Ali, 45-years-old recalls the time that he and his neighbours did not have access to safe and sustainable water in his town. Birkas are underground water storage systems intended to collect rain water during the rainy season and store for use during the dry season. Birkas can also be used to store water transported by trucks during emergencies.

According to the Harshim woreda (district) administrator, Sied Abraham, this borehole in Harshim town is the only sustainable water source that survived the 2015 El-Niño drought. It was drilled by the Somali Regional Water Bureau (RWB) following a UNICEF groundwater mapping in 2009 to identify potential drilling sites. The depth of the borehole is 535 meters, one of the deepest in the Somali region. After this borehole became non-functional due to electromechanical failure last year, UNICEF, with generous financial contribution from European Commission’s humanitarian aid department (ECHO), supported the RWB to rehabilitate the borehole by replacing a submersible pump, generator and an electric cable.

An immediate rehabilitation of the only sustainable water source in the woreda was crucial not only for Harshim town, but a large part of the region. It typically benefits over 9,000 people in Harshim and neighbouring woredas as well as people who cross the border from Somalia. At the end of 2016, it also served people in far-reaching woredas when drought conditions worsened once again due to the negative Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD). The RWB and partners began providing emergency water trucking, using this borehole as their source. Thus, its well-functioning affects a high number of direct and indirect beneficiaries across the region.

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Roda Ahmed, 35 years old and Rahma Ahmed, 30 years old collecting clean water from the on-site water point ©UNICEF/2017/Tsegaye

Roda Ahmed, 35 years old, is with her five children collecting water. “This is a source of life. Now I can cook and feed my children,” she says. Another woman from Harshim town also with five children, Rahma Ahmed, explains, “Since this borehole has been working, we stopped drinking water from birkas.

In addition to people collecting water near the borehole, the on-site trough draws in many pastoralists and their livestock. It takes more than a day for Farah Aden, 60 years old, to walk to the Harshim borehole with his 10 camels. “We are grateful for this borehole. Water is always a great cost for livestock. The functionality of this borehole has impacted our life a lot.” Indeed, during drought periods such as this one, entire herds may be wiped out, as evidenced by dozens of dead carcasses along the roads across the region.

Pastoralists come to Harshim town from neighbouring woredas and Somalia looking for water
Hundreds of livestock come from all over the Harshim woreda and drink water at the on-site trough ©UNICEF/2017/Tsegaye

As he contemplates this grave issue in his region, Muse pauses before emphasizing, “Still, this is not enough. There is a great pressure on this borehole. The generator is working 22 hours every day.”

UNICEF and partners will continue efforts to support the Government of Ethiopia to increase water coverage and functional water schemes in the Somali region to save the lives of children, their families and their livestock and contribute to a better future for all.

[1] traditional water harvesting pond

Government of Ethiopia and Humanitarian Partners Release 2017 Humanitarian Response Planning Document

ADDIS ABABA, 11 January 2016 – The Government of Ethiopia has released the Joint Government and Partners’ Humanitarian Document, an initial humanitarian response planning document for 2017 while the comprehensive Humanitarian Requirements Document (HRD) is being finalized. Based on the early warning data and modelling undertaken by partners such as UNICEF, the document reflects the joint humanitarian response planning and provides a shared understanding of the crisis, including the most pressing humanitarian needs.

While Ethiopia battles residual needs from the El Niño-induced drought, below average rains in the southern and eastern parts of the country caused by the negative Indian Ocean Dipole, another climatic phenomena, have led to new symptoms of drought. It is anticipated that 5.6 million people will need emergency food assistance in 2017, in addition to those still suffering from effects of El Niño. Ongoing assessments for the HRD will provide total figures of those in need for 2017.

In 2016, international donors contributed US$894 million toward the humanitarian response efforts and from that figure, UNICEF raised US$108.7 million to support the Government of Ethiopia and partners to reach around seven million people with access to health and nutrition care, education, safe water, sanitation and hygiene services, and protection support. At least 73 per cent of those reached were children.

The total anticipated financial requirements for the 2017 HRD is US$1.1 billion, of which, the UNICEF Humanitarian Action for Children (HAC) appeal for Ethiopia is US$110.5 million. This includes US$13.6 million to respond to the new influx of South Sudanese refugees in the Gambella region. While the funding will be critical to UNICEF’s ability to respond to immediate needs, it will also be used to take appropriate actions to strengthen preparedness, improve early warning systems and reduce vulnerability, contributing to more resilient communities.

Immediate responses have already taken shape from regional governments allocating funds to water trucking and fodder provision in the south and south eastern regions, those most affected by the below average rainfall. In 2016 and years prior, UNICEF has supported such emergency interventions, in addition to child health and nutrition, sustainable water and sanitation, quality education for boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence and exploitation. UNICEF Ethiopia looks forward to continuing this support with the Government of Ethiopia and partners in 2017, for every child and their family.

Ethiopia: Government and partners launch the mid-year review of Humanitarian Requirements Document (HRD) for 2016

US$612.4 million urgently needed to address food and non-food needs for 9.7million people  

Addis Ababa, 12 August 2016: On 12 August, the Government of Ethiopia officially launched the revision of the joint-Government and partners’ Humanitarian Requirements Document (HRD) for the second half of 2016. The revised HRD seeks US$612.4 million to help 9.7 million people with emergency food and non-food assistance.

“The findings of the comprehensive belg assessment show changes in the humanitarian context that require immediate action. While the overall response strategy remains the same, we need to respond to address increased needs in some areas,” noted Commissioner Ato Mitiku Kassa, Head of the National Disaster Risk Management Commission (NDRMC). “Thanks to the collaboration between the Government and humanitarian partners, we have done a lot this year. We need to sustain the generous support from the international community in the second half of 2016.”

Ethiopia continues to be affected by drought, exacerbated by the strongest El-Niño on record, which significantly eroded coping capacities. Some regions experienced flooding with unusually heavy belg spring rains in April and May 2016, causing temporary displacement and a surge in disease outbreaks. At the same time, some areas did not receive sufficient rainfall and people still do not have adequate access to water, resulting in continued food and nutrition needs that requires additional health and water response. The Government-led inter-agency belg seasonal assessment, undertaken at the end of June, allowed for a timely revision of the 2016 HRD to ensure well-prioritized response until the end of the year.

“The Government of Ethiopia maintains its very strong and decisive leadership in responding to this crisis and has helped avoid what could have been a humanitarian catastrophe’’ stated Ms. Gillian Mellsop, the acting Humanitarian Coordinator. “As was highlighted at the side-event at the World Humanitarian Summit in May, Ethiopia’s response model is an excellent example of how preparation, disaster risk management and response prioritization can mitigate the impact of natural disasters,” added Ms. Mellsop.

“Nevertheless, despite marked achievements earlier this year, the humanitarian situation in Ethiopia remains critical. With a combination of drought, which significantly weakened coping capacities, and extensive flooding that has caused displacement, disease outbreaks and the disruption of basic public services, we must maintain our scaled-up response,” Ms. Mellsop stressed.

“We should not underestimate our achievements this year, especially considering that we have received more than $1 billion in funding so far” Mr. Paul Handley, Head of Office for OCHA Ethiopia, emphasized. “However, we need to scale up and prioritize our response for the rest of the year to provide assistance to the most vulnerable. It is vital that the international community continues to support the Government to ensure that we do not lose the positive momentum we have gained towards ending the humanitarian crisis.”

UNICEF’s response in pictures (Click on the picture for more)

Emergency: Drought Response 2015/16

Education in adversity: South Sudanese refugee children insist on their right to attend school

By Elissa Jobson

Child protection Kule Refugee camp  1 and 2
Crowd of around 100 children, some as young as 6 or 7 years of age, who have gathered outside the chicken-wire fence of the school compound in Kule refugee camp demand to be allowed onto the school’s premise 23, June 2014 Kule South Sudanese refugee camp Gambella Ethiopia. ©UNICEF Ethiopia/2014/Ayene

GAMBELLA, ETHIOPIA, 25 JUNE 2014 – “School is good for the boy and the girl,” sings ten-year old Nyanget Tohok, her voice, cutting through the midday humidity, rings out clean and clear. “SCHOOL IS GOOD FOR THE BOY AND THE GIRL,” chorus the crowd of around 100 children, some as young as 6 or 7 years of age, who have gathered outside the chicken-wire fence of the school compound in Kule refugee camp.

They have not come for lessons. They are not there to collect their schoolbooks. They are there to demand their right to an education. “We are singing for school,” says Nyanget. “We need to learn but there is no space.” The school only has room for 1,200 children but more than 6,000 students registered and are waiting to enrol when the space allows. The exiting places were allocated on a first come, first served basis.

“When we don’t come to school we cannot be happy. We have seen our friends coming to school but we are not given a chance to learn,” laments Majiok Yien, aged 9. This young boy wants to be an English teacher but his dream has been violently interrupted by the civil war raging in South Sudan, which forced him and his family to seek refuge in Ethiopia.

On land provided by UNHCR and the Ethiopian Administration for Refugees and Returnees Affairs (ARRA), four 6m x 4m classrooms have been built by Save the Children with vital support from UNICEF. The school operates two shifts: one in the morning from 8am to 12pm and a second from 1.30pm-5.30pm. The class sizes are huge – 150 children each – and the whole curriculum is being taught by just 10 teachers, all recruited from the refugee community.

Returning to normality

Education
South Sudan Refugee Students attend a class in a makeshift classroom 25, June 2014 Kule South Sudanese refugee camp Gambella Ethiopia. ©UNICEF Ethiopia/2014/Ayene

“School is important for the children. When they are in school they forget what they have seen in the war. School is the first priority to help remind them of normal life,” explains School Director Lam Chuoth Gach, himself an exile from South Sudan’s bloody conflict. The students have been through a terrible ordeal, he adds. They have seen people – for some their parents and siblings – killed directly in front of them. They remember the sounds of the bullets and the long, arduous journey to safety in Gambella. “When we started classes it was difficult to bring their attention to the teaching but now they are listening,” Mr Gach continues. “That is why are worried about the children who are not yet in school.”

Jael Shisanya, Education Adviser for Save the Children feels that the teachers are doing a good job under extremely difficult circumstances. “They are lesson planning and they have written a timetable but the challenge we have is that the numbers of students are overwhelming. We don’t have adequate space,” she says pointing to the four tents made of wooden poles and plastic sheeting that serve as classrooms. Early childhood education is taking place under a tree which doubles as a church on Sundays, Ms Shisanya says, but if classes are to continue during the imminent rainy season a more suitable location will have to be found. “Funding is an issue. We could do much more. We could build better structures. But we need more money for education,” she insists.

“The children are eager to learn and the community itself is yearning for school. ‘We can look for food but we can’t easily get education for our children,’ the parents tell me. They don’t want their children to forget what they have learnt,” Ms Shisanya says.

Adolescents not catered for

Education
14 year old Buya Gatbel. He is one of the lucky few who have secured a coveted place in a makeshift classroom in Kule South Sudanese refugee camp Gambella Ethiopia, 25 June 2014 . ©UNICEF Ethiopia/2014/Ayene

For the children themselves, education is a lifestyle, an essential part of their weekly routine. “I need to go to school. On Sunday I must go to church and on Monday I must go to school,” asserts 14 year old Buya Gatbel. He is one of the lucky few who have secured a coveted place. Buya is happy to be in school but he wishes that the situation was better. “There are no desks. The classroom is very small. We need pens, uniforms, bags and umbrellas for when it rains. There are no exercise books or text books and many children are outside. You need to build more schools, and build a library,” he says.

Currently the school is only teaching grades one to four. “I’m studying grade four but it is not really my grade,” Buya explains – in South Sudan he was in grade eight. His best friend, Changkuoth Chot, aged 18, is in the same boat. “I want to go to grade eight but it is better to be in grade four than to not be in school,” he says.

Ms Shisanya is particularly concerned about those adolescents that are not currently in education: “Teenagers are saying they are so depressed. There is no work.” There is no school.” Tezra Masini, Chief of the UNICEF Field Office in Gambella, is also worried. “Donors are more interested in providing education for younger children but it is protection issue for the older ones. If we don’t provide them with school they may go back to South Sudan to fight.”

Dech Khoat, age 19, bears these fears out. He joined the rebel White Army when the conflict began in December last year. “I’ve come for a rest from the fighting,” he says. In the future I will go back but if I can continue my education I will stay in the camp.”

Click here for latest update on South Sudan refugees status in Ethiopia.

UNICEF calls for US$2.2 billion to help 59 million children in emergencies, including Ethiopia

Largest emergency appeal on record, almost 40 per cent for Syria and region

Somali children concentrate on their learning at a school supported by UNICEF and operated by Save the Children in Kobe refugee camp in Ethiopia. © UNICEF Ethiopia/2013/Ose

GENEVA/ADDIS ABABA, 21 February 2014 – UNICEF appealed today for almost US$2.2 billion to provide life-saving humanitarian assistance in 2014 to 85 million people, including 59 million children, who face conflict, natural disasters and other complex emergencies in 50 countries.

“I have just returned from South Sudan, the latest large-scale conflict to disrupt the lives of millions of innocent children. Over 400,000 children and their families have been displaced by the conflict, and over 3.2 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance. The rainy season is coming and we need to preposition supplies and reinforce essential services, for which we need urgent funding to prevent a catastrophe,” said Ted Chaiban, UNICEF’s Director of Emergency Programmes.

“The children of South Sudan join millions of others affected by conflict in the Central African Republic and Syria. But while today’s headlines focus on these complex, under-funded crises, many other desperate situations also require immediate funding and urgent humanitarian assistance. These include Afghanistan, Colombia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Myanmar, Somalia and Yemen, and other countries reflected in UNICEF’s appeal,” Chaiban said.

UNICEF’s Humanitarian Action for Children 2014 appeal highlights the daily challenges faced by children in humanitarian crises, the support required to help them survive and thrive, and the results that are possible even in the most difficult circumstances.

For Syria and the sub-region, UNICEF is appealing for US$835 million to deliver life-saving assistance including immunization, water and sanitation, education, and protection; and to support the social cohesion and peace-building skills needed to build a more sustainable future.

“Children are always the most vulnerable group in emergencies, facing a high risk of violence, exploitation, disease and neglect,” Chaiban said. “But when support is made available, we can change the lives of children for the better. With its partners, UNICEF is working to address a diverse range of humanitarian situations including malnutrition in the Sahel; lack of safe drinking water and adequate sanitation in Yemen; cholera in Haiti; increased attacks on children in Afghanistan; and drought in Angola.”

In Ethiopia, to support children affected by humanitarian crisis and accelerate efforts to break the vicious cycle of drought, hunger and poverty, UNICEF is appealing for US$31,126,000 million by working closely with Government and partners. The fund is allotted to treat 238,700 children aged 6 to 59 months affected by severe acute malnutrition, provide water for drinking, cooking and personal hygiene for 1,200,000 people and offer formal and informal education to 90,000 children. This year’s appeal will build on the past gains made towards strengthening the resilience of communities in Ethiopia and save the lives of children. The 40 per cent decrease in requirements from 2013 reflects a projected improvement in the food security and nutritional situation in 2014.

See the press release here.