14 June 2018

Ethiopia: Getting Prepared to Deal With Emergency Situations

Currently, various natural and manmade emergency situations are repeatedly posing threats across the country. While the country is entering its major rainy season, some studies, show that flood incidents are becoming the second most emergency concern in the country following drought. The rains and the resulting increased surface water have brought a higher risk with increment of rivers in two of Ethiopia's rainy seasons.

The floods are mainly resulted from high rate of regular and non-regular rainfall that cause overflow of rivers such as Awash, Wabe Sheballe, Genale, and Omo as well as Lake Tana.

The predictable heavy rain falls in some areas of the country would cause flash flood particularly in flood prone areas. Thus, the concerned stakeholders should undertake appropriate measures ahead of time in order to minimize the effect of flood hazard in the areas.

Debebe Zewde, Commu- nication Director at National Disaster Risk Management Commission told The Ethiopian Herald that flood is likely to happen in flood-prone areas with high probability of risk in the the rainy season which could highly affect lowland areas.

For instance, eighteen Woredas in five Ethiopian Somali regional zones including Kelafo, Mustahil, Fairfer have been repeatedly affected by flood incident. The government has provided emergency aid for more than 165 thousand citizens who were put under threat by the flood. It main activities are focused on saving lives, reducing morbidity and other shocks, protecting livelihoods, and responding to other natural disasters, conflict and displacement.

Debebe noted that in some parts of the country landslide and shrivel are also becoming threat. Research based activities have been conducted in collaboration with experts at the Addis Ababa University Department of Geology to come up with sustainable solution and responses.

Government in cooperation with donors and other stakeholders has been giving quick responses for victims as per the outcomes of the study. The country prevented and reduced the challenge through applying the mechanism found out in the research, he added.

According to National Meteorological Agency forecast there is a need for conductive extensive preventive activities during the country's two rainy seasons particularly in vulnerable areas. Areas like Western and central Ethiopia, Oromia, Southern Nations, Nationalities and People of Ethiopia, Gambella, Afar, Amhara, Benshangul Gumuz, Harari, Ethiopian Somali, Tigray, Addis Ababa and Dire Dawa city administrations are identified as potential risk areas.

Besides it negative effect on the economy, repetitive floods may cause challenge on the country's agriculture sector as the water surfaces on a large agricultural land. It is also an obstacle for effective public service delivery including healthcare.

According to Debebe, for this rainy season, early warning and preparation works have been completed. Based on the forecast they receive from National Meteorological Agency, flood taskforces at national and regional level have been established and are performing various tasks to prevent and minimize the risk engaging community and other stakeholders.

In response to the severe and complex situation, taskforces at federal level are collaborating with regional taskforces to improve the situation of health, nutrition, agriculture and sanitation during emergency situations.

To build and develop disaster resilience at community level, it is important all actors including government, donors and NGOs work together at various levels to save lives, assess food and non-food needs, and ease the challenges during emergency situations.

To provide more accurate information on the number of beneficiaries and areas in need, all taskforces should deliver timely information to other concerned bodies. More appropriate responses and multiple strategies must be put in place to assess specific forms emergency situations to prevent and respond to them efficiently.

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