Drought in Ethiopia


International Medical Corps monitors looming drought in Ethiopia

The drought in Ethiopia, driven by the changing weather patterns of El Niño, means that over 10 million people currently require food aid, and that number could increase to 15 million by the end of 2016. Pregnant women and children are especially vulnerable in a drought and more than 420,000 Ethiopian children are expected to need treatment for severe acute malnutrition this year. International Medical Corps has been working in the country for the past 13 years, providing treatment for malnourished children and programs in water, sanitation and hygiene, food and livelihood security and comprehensive health care. Since 2009, we have successfully treated nearly 100,000 children and pregnant and lactating women with malnutrition. International Medical Corps is extremely concerned about the situation and continues to monitor progress of the crisis while providing critical health care to vulnerable populations. Since 2011, we have established 83 outpatient programs and 8 in-patient stabilization centers to help treat children with severe acute malnutrition


  • Ethiopia is experiencing the worst drought in more than 50 years.
  • An estimated 420,000 children are in need of treatment for severe acute malnutrition.
  • More than 5.8 million people are in need of emergency water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) services.
  • Over 10.2 million people in Ethiopia are expected to be food insecure in 2016.


International Medical Corps teams are on the ground in Ethiopia providing emergency health, nutrition, food security and water, sanitation and hygiene support to the most drought-affected districts

The current situation in central and eastern Ethiopia is deteriorating. The drought has led to limited access to water in some regions, forcing residents, especially women and children, to travel longer distances and spend more time waiting in lines to fetch water. Therefore, some households collect water from possibly contaminated sources, including rivers, ponds and springs. Households are also affected economically as they have to spend more money to buy water trucked in from other locations. There have been 50-90% crop losses in some regions, and families have resorted to drastic coping mechanisms such as skipping meals and selling off assets.

Although a well-coordinated response is already underway in Ethiopia, growing needs far exceed available resources. International Medical Corps is preparing to scale up emergency health, nutrition, food security and WASH response efforts in 18 woredas (districts) of 40 of the most affected woredas in Ethiopia.

International Medical Corps has already provided the following support in drought-affected districts:

  • Conducted hygiene promotion for 850 people
  • Provided training in severe acute malnutrition management, public health emergency management, admission/discharge criteria, reporting and recording
  • Distributed Infant and Young Child Feeding information, education and communication materials to 17 health posts and 4 health centers
  • Provided workshops and sensitization activities on integrated disease surveillance and response
  • Trained 178 health workers in 18 woredas on public health emergency management
  • Procured medications for nutrition treatment centers
  • Provided logistical support for the transportation of therapeutic foods, medications and other essential items to health centers and health posts
  • Educated over 400 caretakers on health and nutrition practices
  • Established four stabilization centers in four hotspots priority woredas

  • Throughout the country, International Medical Corps will continue to offer diversified humanitarian and long-term development programs, as well as providing lifesaving, life-preserving and life-sustaining services. International Medical Corps maintains extensive experience in emergency nutrition, health and water, sanitation and hygiene throughout many of the areas which are affected by the currents drought. International Medical Corps is currently working together with families and communities in six regional states of Ethiopia.

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