ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (ReliefWeb)United Nations Under-Secretary- General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator (USG / ERC), Mr. Stephen O’Brien has just concluded a three-day visit to Ethiopia to see first-hand the impact of failed rains in the southern parts of the county.

“I have just returned from Warder zone in Ethiopia’s Somali Region, where I saw the immense impact this drought is having on people’s lives and livelihoods. I also witnessed the hard work of the Ethiopian Government and its UN and NGO partners to ensure that water-trucking, animal health and emergency nutrition support are provided to all those in need,” said USG O’Brien.

Below average rains in south and southeastern parts of the country caused by the negative Indian Ocean Dipole have led to a new “lowland” drought. Among the most affected areas are parts of Somali and Afar regions and a number of lowland areas of Oromia and SNNP regions. The new drought has led to severe shortages of water and pasture in the pastoral and agro-pastoral communities. Deteriorating livestock body condition and loss of livestock are also being reported as well as high levels of acute and moderate malnutrition.

ALSO READ: Ethiopia Faces New Drought and Seeks Urgent Aid for 5 Million People

“We need to act now before it is too late. This is why I am calling on international partners to join the Ethiopian Government in funding the 2017 Humanitarian Requirements Document, which seeks US$948 million to assist 5.6 million people, whose lives, livelihoods and well-being depend on our support,” said the USG.

Speaking at a High-Level event on the Humanitarian Situation in Ethiopia on Sunday 29 January the Humanitarian Chief commended the Government and Humanitarian partners on the 2016 response to the El Nino drought that left 10.2 million people in need of food assistance.

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