Deputy Prime Minister says the government is speeding up drought relief deliveries

Deputy Prime Minister Demeke Mekonnen has emphasized that the government is striving for an effective and speedy delivery of food and non-food items including fodder for livestock to the 5.6 million people affected by the drought. In an interview on Wednesday (March 8) he said the government was currently focusing on delivery of potable water, food and fodder for livestock and the provision of health services for human and livestock populations. Food requirement this year include a carry-over of needy population from the previous year as well as the new drought affected populations in the southern and eastern part of the country. Below average rains in these areas caused by the negative Indian Ocean Dipole and La Niña have led to new symptoms of drought.  The Deputy Prime Minister said the government is implementing a strategy that would help to avoid human loss and maintain, as much as possible, the livestock population. The most seriously affected areas are in the Somali Regional State;  the lowlands of Borena, Bale and Gujji zones in the Oromia Regional State; and South Omo zone of the Southern  Nations Nationalities and Peoples' State. The government has allocated 47 million USD to mitigate the drought in the affected areas, and the Deputy Premier added that the drought response programs were being conducted without affecting the ongoing development programs that are currently underway in the country.