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Ethiopia and Kenya
Drought In Africa; A Bitter Harvest, October 2006

Ethiopia and Kenya

Drought In Africa; A Bitter Harvest, October 2006

The skeletal acacia trees that surround Magado village, a tiny isolated community in Southern Ethiopia, are testimony in more ways than one to the drought that has destroyed the lives of its inhabitants. The bare branches and parched earth are evidence of the six months of rainless heat that has wiped out 70 per cent of the livestock owned by the 11 million nomadic pastoralists spread across the Horn of Africa in the worst drought for a decade.

Humanitarian aid to Africa has grown almost six-fold in the past eight years from $946m (£556m) to $5.6bn (£3.3bn). Magado’s share of this windfall came too late.

No one in Magado has died from starvation. In March, long after the cattle were beyond salvation, emergency food aid arrived which kept the pastoralists alive. By the time the October rains arrived, however, the inhabitants of Magado had cut down five men who had hung themselves in acacia trees. They had killed themselves because of the shame and despair of watching their cattle dwindle and perish before their eyes.

The village is grim proof of an international community failing to provide help when it is needed most. Across the Borena lands, it is estimated that 150,000 cows have died, two thirds of the entire stock.