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A mother and her three children stood in a baron field


East Africa Floods

8 December 2023 Somalia Responding

Somalia, Ethiopia, and Kenya have been experiencing severe flooding as a result of heavy rainfall, leading to over 700,000 people being displaced.

Ethiopia has the potential to develop into a strong agricultural economy, lifting the third of the population who live on less than $1.90 (£1.40) a day out of poverty. For the majority farming population, however, recurring droughts are critically continuing to threaten livelihoods, making daily survival ever more difficult.

That’s why we’re working to strengthen livelihoods by help communities become resident to disaster, whilst also tackling gender-based inequalities to ensure that both men and women can lead more secure, healthier lives.

Climate change is having an increasingly big impact on communities across eastern Ethiopia. With poor rainfall and recurrent drought, people’s health and livelihoods are at risk.

Insufficient supplies of safe water and a lack of food mean that the young, elderly and displaced populations without access to government resources become malnourished and risk catching water-borne diseases. Increasing tensions are also growing as competition for resources grows.

The lack of rain is reducing pastoralist communities’ herds and economic capital weaken in strength and number. As livestock becomes malnourished, household poverty is sadly increasing.

A young girl looks at the camera.

The situation in Ethiopia

Due to the effects of climate change, life is incredibly challenging for people across Ethiopia:

11.5 million

people require emergency food aid (UN World Food Programme, 2019)

Almost 30%

of the population are living in poverty (UNDP, 2019)

4 out of 10

children suffer from moderate to severe stunting (UNICEF, 2019)


of women and girls (aged 15-49 years) have undergone FGM/C (UNICEF, 2017)

Islamic Relief in Ethiopia

Working closely with local government and communities, in Ethiopia we deliver both emergency and long-term development programmes in the capital, Addis Ababa, and some of the country’s most remote regions. We work in the Afar region on the Eritrea/Djibouti border and the Somali region, close to the Somalia border.

Given Ethiopia’s vulnerability to drought, clean water is a major priority. Since we began working in the country, Islamic Relief have delivered clean water supplies to 500,000 people. In addition we are building dams and drilling and repairing wells and boreholes, providing water to 250,000 people so far.

In Afar and Somali regions, livestock are vital to people’s livelihoods. To help protect them we are training community animal health workers, establishing private veterinary pharmacies, and providing animal treatment and food.

Despite improvements in healthcare in Ethiopia, many children die each year due to preventable or treatable causes such as pneumonia, diarrhoea, malaria and malnutrition. In remote areas, many women die giving birth without the assistance of a skilled health professional. In Afar and Somali regions Islamic Relief are expanding and equipping maternal and child care units, training health workers, supporting the vaccinations of thousands of children, and providing ambulances, including motorbikes for the more remote areas.

In our health and nutrition work we prioritise the most vulnerable: pregnant women, children under the age of 5, older people and people with disabilities.

Access to education, particularly for women in rural areas, is a major challenge. In a bid to provide primary education for all, we are building, upgrading and furnishing primary schools and supporting tens of thousands of children in hard-to-reach areas through primary school.

We are providing school kits, text and reference books, teaching aids and laboratory equipment. We are also improving the skills of teachers and parent-teacher associations for a more long-term impact. We are particularly encouraging families to send their girls to school through community education, income generating activities and building separate latrines for girls and boys.

Our work also helps people to be able to earn a decent living. In Addis Ababa we are providing micro-credit and vocational, technical and business training for young people. In the Afar and Somali regions we are supporting small-scale agriculture projects involving irrigation, livestock and beekeeping.

Looming above all of this work are the effects of climate change, which Islamic Relief is lobbying globally to address. In Ethiopia, we are helping local government and communities to establish community-based early warning systems and put in place disaster-preparedness plans.

Islamic Relief in action

Over the years, Ethiopia has experienced a significant increase in internal displacement as a result of regional border disputes, ethnic tension, and inter-communal conflict. By the beginning of 2019, 20% of displacement was triggered by changes in climate while ethnic tension and violence accounted for 80% of those internally displaced. 

The conflict has severely impacted the country. It has caused devastating loss of life, damaged social and economic infrastructures, displaced over 2 million people, and inflicted trauma and distress in communities.

To contribute towards ensuring growth and development in Ethiopia, there is a need to promote peaceful co-existence in the conflict-affected and fragile areas of the country.

In 2021, Islamic Relief began a peace-building programme, working with both the government and local communities to strengthen customary institutions, and increase the ability and involvement of youth and women groups. The programme also promotes trauma healing and psychosocial support by enlisting the support of trained specialists from the public and private sectors.

As a result, mutual trust has grown between the different ethnic-communities, helping them to live together in a positive way, and nurturing social and economic relationships.

A woman receiving staple food items from Islamic Relief
Image: Islamic Relief aid workers distribute Ramadan food parcels.

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