08 Nov 2022
  • Kaye Viray | Media and Communication Officer, IOM Ethiopia.

Oromia, Ethiopia - Over the last few years, Tume has seen the fruits of her family’s labour disappear in front of her eyes. Her country, Ethiopia, is in the grip of a devastating drought- the severest the country has seen in almost 40 years.

“The drought took away everything we have. Our herd of cattle, oxen, donkeys, goats, and a big farmland, they were all gone,” the 78-year-old mother of four said.

“I’ve lived for almost eight decades. I’ve seen many things in my life. I feared nothing. That has changed with this drought, the worst one I’ve seen in my life. It is terrifying.”

Many Regions in Ethiopia are currently experiencing one of the most severe La Niña-induced droughts in recent decades, with 9.9 million people in need of food assistance, and the death of 3.5 million livestock between late 2021 and mid-May 2022 due to drought destroying people’s livelihoods. Hundreds of thousands of drought-affected people have migrated in search of water, pasture, and or assistance.

Nestled in the southern part of the country, Borena zone, an area in the Oromia Region of Ethiopia thousands of drought-displaced people have moved to the Dubuluk Internally Displaced Person (IDP) site which opened some months ago. And Tume is one of them.

Over 40,000 drought-displaced persons are currently residing at the Dubuluk IDP site. Photo: Kaye Viray/IOM

Like her, people moved here in search of assistance. And they are in desperate need of water.

“We used to live in an area that’s not too far from this site. We were not rich, but we worked hard to live a comfortable life. We had donkeys helping us with fetching water. Now, the water source has dried out and all our donkeys died. We knew we had to leave in order to survive,” she shared.

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) started its water trucking support to provide a lifeline for most IDPs. Every day, IOM is trucking 40,000 litres of water to Dubuluk IDP site, serving an estimated 5,300 people. IOM’s water trucking support is also supporting eight IDP sites across the drought-affected regions in Ethiopia. Much of the water is coming from a protected borehole recently rehabilitated by IOM. To ensure the quality of water during collection and during storage at home, chlorination is being done at the storage tank before distribution.

IOM’s Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) interventions are reinforced with strong hygiene promotion for improved hygiene practices and behavioral changes. These promotion activities are carried out by trained volunteers.

Water trucking service provides much-needed immediate support for IDPs. Photo: Kaye Viray/IOM

IOM coordinates its WASH services with the local district water administration in order to make sure those in hard-to-reach areas are getting the type of support that they need.

“While IOM’s water trucking immediate support is essential, sustained solutions must be secured through durable water supplies systems rehabilitation and construction”, said Ester Ruiz de Azua, IOM Ethiopia.

To further improve the living conditions in the IDP site, IOM has distributed water treatment chemicals, construction of emergency latrines and shower facilities, among other complementary initiatives.

Emergency latrines and shower facilities at the Dubuluk IDP site constructed by IOM. Photo: Kaye Viray/IOM

As a lasting solution for the site’s water supply system, hand pumps have been rehabilitated at two kebeles (districts) where water trucking is conducted.

“This drought is here not slowing down anytime soon but we must continue living. This water we are receiving saved our lives, my children and grandchildren’s lives. I cannot lose them too,” Tume said.

IOM’s WASH response in drought-affected regions of Ethiopia is supported by USAID’s Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance (BHA) and EU Humanitarian Aid- ECHO.