Ethiopia / Kobo Woreda: Heart breaking drought and subsequent starvation
The town of Kobo, which is known to be the far-end border of the Amahra National Regional State from the two neighbouring regions of Tigray and Afar, is located 570 KM far from the capital Addis Ababa towards the north-eastern direction. This town and its surrounding villages were in the main scenes of the recent BBC documentary report about the current drought and its devastating implications on the lives of the people and their cattle.
As PBF have had some incredible humanitarian involvement in this area, the news broadcasted by BBC has grabbed our attention and called up on us to inform our website visitors about the overall natural, social and topographic structure of the area and its people – contextualising the story with the present famine which the region is facing.
To begin with the undeniable assets, when nature reacts in favour of the area, Kobo and its neighbouring Woredas have the most fertile, topographically plane and vast area of land which is conducive for agrarian and semi agrarian life. Unlike in other parts of the country, the land is claimed to be rich of underground water despite the total dependency of the farmers on rainfall throughout their seasonal agricultural and harvesting activities. Socially, the community owns rich cultural and traditional values having their own dressing style, belief, conflict management and diversified religious and linguistic variety but with a common psychological identity and sense of solidarity. The people are also known by their naturally gifted beauty with their own traditional way of protecting their prettiness.
With all these good scenes, however, this area still remains as one of the most drought prone vicinities of the country, hosting the most devastating and dehumanising famine and natural disaster tragedies that the country and its people have seen in history. Both man-made and natural calamities could be invoked as the main reasons for such vulnerability of the area. Being the gate to the northern edge of the country, it was a battle field for most of civil wars and wars against foreign invasion which has caused the total demolishment of its natural resources and deforestation. Naturally, its topographic and geographical location has made it difficult to get seasonal rainfall throughout the year. Lack of technological advancement and modern agricultural farming as well as less political and policy based attention in the region have left the farmers option -less and rely solely on the unpredictable and uncertain rainfall.
According to some unproved legends, it seems to be a fact that the country in general and the northern part in particular (where this vicinity belongs to) have been experiencing such horrific calamities at least once in every ten years. And astonishingly, exemplifying all the recent -past similar droughts and famine catastrophe, there seems to have a belief that drought is to occur in the year that ends with number 7 according to the Ethiopian calendar as can be revealed from the similar upheavals during the years 1977, 1987, and 1997 and now 2007/08 EC or (1984/5, 1994/5, 2004/5 and 2014/15 respectively according to Gregorian Calendar.
These historical evidences, whatsoever its credibility or mere coincidence might be, shows how deep rooted the problem is and the extent it requires a very concrete and practically feasible long term policy directive to surmount the problem. It is a very serious concern that calls for a long term and life changing solution, demanding all stakeholders to think beyond the mere provision of food supply up on emergency calls.
This being the general fact and situational analysis of the reality in the area, it has to be noted that PBF has been supporting quite number of individual and community based projects designed to be implemented in the area and to the benefit of many young people from the town. We are deeply concerned on the existing situation and all the people who are suffering the actual starvation are in my thoughts and prayers. As PBF head, I am fully committed as before, to contribute my part in all constructive efforts to triumph over the problem.