Call for urgent response to drought

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Save the Children International meet in Addis to discuss the crisis
400,000 children are severely malnourished and 1.8 million children are out of school due to the drought in Ethiopia.

At a press conference held on Wednesday by the Save the Children CEOs of the organization from the U.S, Norway, Finland and Ethiopia discussed the current drought and underlined that an urgent response is required.
“We need to make sure that children that are on the brink – and they really are on the brink–don’t fall into severe malnutrition and die because of this drought. Ethiopia has made huge investments in children. The country has met the Millennium Development Goal to lower child mortality by two thirds; you have actually achieved that early and that is great commitment of the Ethiopian people and government. But, if we do not act now in this crisis, that progress will be lost,” stated Carolyn Miles, President and CEO of Save the Children US.
The critical nature of the situation and need of immediate assistance were highlighted by all of the organization’s representatives. “There are only two emergencies that Save the Children has put in most critical category; one is Syria and the refugee situation there and in different countries and the second one is the drought in Ethiopia,” Miles further stated.
Early warning systems have been utilized to ensure that major stakeholders were aware of and can get involved in the response to crisis. However, Miles pointed out that it is important not only to have early warning systems but to also make good use of them.
“So we know what the warning is saying; this is the worst drought in 50 years, the next few months are very critical in terms of responding and we already know from past history what could happen if we don’t,” Miles said.
Hanna Markkula, CEO of Save the Children Finland said that long term effects of the drought need to also be considered in the response that will last long after. “Everybody needs to understand that drought is not only about not having water, it has long term consequences. A holistic approach is very important in situations like these,” she stated.
She further said that many have lost their livelihoods to the drought, thus interventions need to provide long-term solutions towards resilience, beyond the provision of food and healthcare assistance.
“Timing and urgency are very important, this is the time to act and these children cannot wait an extra day,” said Tove Wang, CEO of Save the Children Norway.
The Ethiopian Government has stated that 10.1 million people will need food assistance in 2016. The Government revised its emergency funding appeal to USD 1.2 billion, but thus far, less than half of that amount has been financed.