Oxfam has been responding to the current crisis since May 2015, reaching over 280,000 people, with plans to reach 600,000 people across four of the worst affected areas; Siti Zone (Somali Region), Afar Region (Zones 2 and 5) and West Arsi (Oromia Region). The provision of emergency food and water assistance are critical, particularly for the 1.7 million children, and pregnant and breastfeeding women, who have particular sanitation requirements and nutritional needs. Our response aims to both prevent deaths due to the drought and protect and restore people's livelihoods
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Providing access to safe, clean water is crucial to people's survival, and a number of activities are being undertaken in the areas where Oxfam is working. Water trucking and treatment is critical to getting supplies to where it is needed most, and over 170,000 people have benefitted to date. Work has also begun on rehabilitating existing boreholes: in Siti Zone, ten boreholes have been re-established, reaching 50,000 people.
There are plans to support the development of water-harvesting structures, which will allow communities to benefit more from the rains when they do come. The formation and training of water committees for the operation, maintenance and management of water points means that local communities can take ownership of water provision.
Maintaining health and hygiene
Oxfam is working to strengthen the ability of communities to lower the risk of disease outbreaks. Sanitation and hygiene promotion activities have been taking place, including the provision of soap and other hygiene items, and awareness raising and training. In Zone 2, Afar Region, 6,000 households have benefitted from these activities, providing people with the knowledge and confidence to keep themselves healthy.
Through our sanitation program we will provide and support affected communities to have access to safe sanitation facilities through the construction of emergency latrines at public and communal places, prioritising the special needs of women in the provision of sanitation facilities. Twenty-eight latrines have already been constructed in Siti Zone, with more planned across our response.
The majority of those we are supporting are found among pastoralist communities, where access to food and livelihoods has been most severely affected. Lack of water and pasture has led to large scale deaths of livestock, which has an overwhelming impact on poverty levels (livestock being pastoralists' main asset) and nutrition (due to the loss of milk from diets).
To meet people's immediate needs, Oxfam has been providing unconditional cash transfers alongside cash for work programmes, so far reaching over 60,000 people. This approach allows markets to keep functioning, where food is available but previously unaffordable. We are also providing farmers with animal feed to sustain their livestock, and over 64,000 people have received maize and potato seeds to plant in preparation for the belg rains (the current short rainy season).