The Afar region has faced an unprecedented locust invasion since August this year.
AFAR, Ethiopia, October 28, 2020 – Mohammed Ali, 30, a pastoralist, is visibly tired, but relentlessly searching for pasture for his cattle under scorching sunshine. He leads over 400 head of cattle from Ewa to Asayta Woreda in the Afar region. Although pastoralists like Mohammed are accustomed to making the annual 200 km trek in January when the rains stop, they were compelled to make the journey in October – three months early.
“Desert locusts destroyed all the natural pasture including green vegetation cover. Our livestock would starve to death if we did not move,” he said.
According to Ayalew Shumet, the Afar region’s coordinator of desert locust operations, about 10 million head of livestock in the region are currently affected by the scarcity of natural pasture. Because pastoralists rely on the weather and environment to secure livestock feed for their livestock, they are heavily impacted by the damage desert locusts have caused on pasture.
Desert locusts have also destroyed entire crop fields leaving farmers, and local authorities worried. Hussein Hundolpe vividly remembers the day locusts invaded his six-hectare maize field in Afambo Woreda with sadness.
“My family and I worked hard to clear the field. I bought an irrigation pump and fuel and ensured that my maize crop received enough water. When the plants were about one meter tall, locusts devoured everything in a few hours”, he said.
Recounting the incident, Ahmed’s neighbor, Fatouma, said a large swarm covered their village’s sky.
“We threw objects at them, but nothing helped. Although the government moved swiftly to spray the swarm, the damage was already done. Every single farmer in our village lost all their maize and sorghum crop”, she said.
The Afar region has faced an unprecedented locust invasion since August this year. Despite ongoing control efforts, numerous hopper bands have caused immense damage in 33 out of 34 Woredas of the region.
“Farmers need urgent support to re-plant their crops and pastoralists require emergency feed supply otherwise, the food security in the region is at risk,” said Wogris Hafa, the Head of the Livestock, Agriculture, and Natural Resources Office of Chifra Woreda.
Ethiopia has been battling locusts since June 2019. Up to October 21, 2020, over 607 000 hectares of land had been sprayed through aerial and ground operations. Despite these efforts, the desert locust threat prevails due to cross-border movements and prevailing conducive breeding conditions in the country. Numerous immature adult groups and swarms are still moving in the Amhara/Tigray highlands and Somali region (Desert Locust situation update: 19 October 2020).
Floods exacerbate the risk
Between June and September 2020, heavy and prolonged rains led to flooding in the Afar, Amhara, Oromia, Gambella, Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples (SNNP)’, Sidama, and Somali regions, affecting over one million people, with about 350 000 displaced.
In Aysaqita Woreda in the Afar region, Medina Solea recounts how floodwaters overflowing from the Awash River washed away all her household property, livestock, and crops.
“We ran to the mountains from where we were rescued by a helicopter.”
Now living in an Internally Displaced Persons Camp with her family of 10, Madina says, “We have nothing to start with.”
Although the Awash River frequently floods in August/September following heavy rains in the eastern highland and escarpment areas, this year’s flooding is unmatched, according to Aydahis Yasin, the Early Warning and Emergency Response Director, Afar Region.
“Over 46 000 hectares of cropland and 26 000 hectares of pasture in Afar were destroyed by floods, “he said.
Food security at stake
According to the latest Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) report, about 6.7 million people (in seven regions) are expected to be highly food insecure, in Crisis (IPC Phase 3), or worse between October and December 2020.
However, the new wave of desert locusts, exacerbated by economic hardships resulting from COVID-19 restrictions, and flooding will likely amplify food insecurity unless urgent action is taken, to assist the affected communities.
Alongside efforts to control desert locusts, FAO is implementing a programme to safeguard productive assets and livelihoods of the affected population in Afar, Amhara, Oromia, Somalia, SNNP, and Tigray regions. The Organization is supporting over 70 000 households with agricultural inputs (seeds, tools, livestock feed, and veterinary drugs), cash transfers, training, and extension support. These interventions were informed by the May-December 2020 funding Appeal of $79 million, which is now 60 percent funded.
“With the growing humanitarian needs, we require more funds to support additional households”, said Fatouma Seid, the FAO Representative in Ethiopia.
While the Oromo people’s uncertainty about their well-being and safety in Oromia is so high and the Horn of Africa as a whole is under a cloud of fears and insecurity, targeted killings of the Oromo Youths will rather aggravate the situation than calming it down. When political parties like the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) are proposing a resolution for the current crises, such an inhuman way of killing innocent citizens rather worsen the situation.
Simply putting, it’s immoral and inhuman to kill these innocent youths. It is also against the law of the land as well as international law. Whoever committed this heinous killing, OLF condemns with a strong word possible such extrajudicial killing. These youths are the hopes of our freedom and our future and nation’s fate lies in their hand.
The various massacres that recently took place in South-Eastern Oromia in Bale Robe, Eastern Oromia in Awaday and Machahara, and Western Oromia in Nekemte clearly indicate the lack of peace and security in Oromia. We believe that such murdering of the Oromia youths on street, in their homes, and basically everywhere is orchestrated by those who used to be in government structure but are an anti-Oromo struggle.
Therefore, the Oromo people and the citizens of Oromia as a whole must realize these facts and act in unity to defend themselves from such genocidal killings.
Those who are currently working in security and police forces, and military personnel born of Oromia citizens, have Oromia citizens relatives or friends, and are residing in Oromia should refrain from committing such extrajudicial killings on Oromo youth.
We call upon you to rather stand up and protect your family, relatives, friend, and the citizens with whom you live from criminals. Remember, you took an oath to protect the people and nation, but not the interest of government or politicians.
To curve the current looming crises in Oromia, the OLF has called for the establishment of the National Transitional Government of Oromia. Taking this opportunity, we would like to remind all political parties, Oromo human rights Organizations, civic institutes, Oromo professionals/elites, non-governmental and private organizations, and the overall Oromia citizens, to own your responsibilities in supporting and working toward the realization of the Oromia National Transitional Government.
Lastly, these targeted killings on Oromo youth across Oromia is being committed by those few individuals or groups within the government structure. OLF would like to reaffirm that people’s struggle for freedom, peace, and democracy will never be reversed with such inhuman action, and those who have committed and are still committing such heinous killing will never escape from accountability, be it history or legal.
This politically motivated killing and harassment of citizens in Oromia only come to an end by establishing the Oromia National transitional government that can be trusted by the people. We should strengthen our struggle in all aspects to protect ourselves and defend our nation and interest.
Extrajudicial killings and intimidations across Oromia have been taking place on Oromo youths for over two years and still, there is no glimpse of hope that this will stop. In fact, such unjustifiable killings increase the concerns and anxiety of our people about their overall safety and security.
We as people should realize these real concerns and work toward bringing an end to it by establishing Oromia National transitional government.
Victor to the masses
Oromo Liberation front
October 25, 2020
The World Bank together with development partners has supported a Safety Net Development projects since the financial year of 2018 and it’s supposed to end by 31st December 2020. It is called by them Productive Safety Net Program (PSNP). This is supposed to support farmers and secure food security across the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia (FDRE).
Clearly, the fallout between the Tigray and Addis Ababa. The result of the political stalemate between Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) and the Prosperity Party (PP) has yet another financial implication. The PP have already blocked Federal Support of the Regional Government of Tigray. Also, collaboration between the House of Federation (HoF) and Regional Government of Tigray has ceased.
Today, the news that the Federal Government are now blocking the funds and support through the World Bank Program of PSNP. A program made for farmers, secure livelihood and give the farmers social accountability. Latest support from the World Bank was in September 2020. The Federal Government got $66m USD allocated to PSNP. The funds now blocked has to be from this.
This means the state is deliberately blocking one region from accessing funds given to the whole Republic. It wasn’t given to just Amhara or Oromia. No, it was given to the government representing the whole Republic. That means, the altering of the funding, which was intended to them all.
The funders of the PSNP should react to this. Especially, if they care for the livelihood of the farmers in Tigray. If the state had blocked farmers in Ogaden or in Oromia. There would be the same reason to cry havoc. This is wrong on all basis and only done because the PP is punishing the Tigray for not following the “orders” from Addis.
The Federal Government is punishing the farmers of Tigray. That is the reality of this. The foreign donors are blocked from giving needed aid to Tigray. Just because the PP and Federal Government isn’t friendly with Mekelle at the moment.
This is tragic that foreign aid can be used like this and be suspended, because of the Napoleon Complex of the Prime Minister. Peace.