Before drought hit Elod Kebele in Elkere District in the Somali Region of Ethiopia, Gudad Hina Diba, a 40-year-old mother of ten children and her husband raised their family by cultivating a corn field and rearing goats that provided milk for the family. However, Gudad’s life took a turn for the worse during the drought. She lost her husband and her livelihood.
Gudad Hina Hiba is pictured with her child. Photo: Kedija Sefa/NCA
“Losing my husband had made my life very difficult. On top of that, I lost 50 of my goats. I could not plant anything on my corn field."
Gudad says that she did her best to save the lives of her children by collecting firewood and selling it to the local people.
Gudad was among the 120 households that accessed the cash support in two rounds, each amounting to ETB 7,700 that Norwegian Church Aid Ethiopia provided in Elkere District in 2023 with funding from the EU Civil Protection & Humanitarian Aid Emergency Response Mechanism through the International Rescue Committee.
Gudad reflects that her children were badly affected by the drought. "With this support, we are slowly emerging from the pit. My children’s physical condition is improving. I am able to feed my children with the cash support I received twice," she notes.
"We can only think about the future when can survive today. We can only plan for tomorrow when we save our lives first," Gudad says. "This support reached us when we were in a dire situation. It helped us to see this day," she adds.
Elkere is one of the Districts in Ethiopia that has been highly impacted by an extended drought due to a shortage of rainfall since late 2020. The UN said this is the worst drought in 40 years.
Ali Hajir Abdi, a team leader of a mobile health and nutrition team in Elkere District, Somali Region. Photo: Kedija Sefa
Ali Hajir Abdi is a Health Officer and NCA’s mobile health and nutrition team leader in Afder Zone, Somali Region.
The mobile health team he leads currently reaches five localities in Elkere District namely; Bula, Elode, Jare, Warara, and Mesle localities. The team of five travels from one locality to the other on a daily basis to assist people who require primary medical care as part of an emergency response for drought-affected communities in the District.
The mobile health team, composed of a health officer, clinical nurse, midwife, and community health worker, conducts weekly outreach support at each site. The team is expected to conduct 3,600 targeted consultations for nutrition screening, antenatal care, under-five medical care, vaccination, family planning, and an outpatient therapeutic programme.
Hussein Maelin Ahmed, a member of the mobile health and nutrition support team provides a vaccine to a child. Photo: Kedija Sefa/NCA
A member of the mobile health and nutrition team provides medical consultation to a client. Photo: Kedija Sefa/NCA
"In the beginning, when we went to each site, almost everyone came to us looking for treatment. It was a big challenge for us because we couldn't reach everyone in one day," Ali says. "But now, as we go to each locality on a weekly basis, we are seeing a significant improvement from time to time. The number of healthy people is outnumbering those who require assistance," he explains.
Ali, who was happy to see a big change in a short period, adds, "Sometimes I say to myself, what would have happened to all those children who suffered malnutrition if we had not reached the area in time?"
"There is nothing more gratifying than seeing people who were sick and dependent on someone going about their lives healthy," Ali notes. "Every day we travel across difficult terrains to reach these rural kebeles, but when we see very sick children saved because of our work, we forget about all the hardships," he says.
The mobile health and nutrition support is part of a larger emergency response assisting internally displaced people and host communities affected by drought in Elkere and West Imi District of the Somali Region with funding from the EU Civil Protection & Humanitarian Aid Emergency Response Mechanism through the International Rescue Committee.
Additionally, the World Health Organization (WHO) has donated medical kits for this response.