Six months since the conflict erupted in Tigray, thousands of farmers have nothing to plant ahead of the rainy season as the crisis compounded by climate-fuelled locust devastated their tools and livestock and pushed over 5 million people to extreme levels of hunger, warned Oxfam today.
Gezahegn Kebede Gebrehana, Oxfam’s Country Director in Ethiopia said:
“Farming should be beginning now ahead of the long rainy season in June, but it has come to a total halt due to conflict and the absence of rain. Many farmers have no seeds to plant, and their oxen and tools were looted or destroyed in the conflict. Trade and market exchanges have stagnated as people fear a resurgence of fighting.”
More than 25% of the total production of Tigray was already destroyed in the last harvest, mostly by locust swarms. Most families have already depleted their food stocks. If this agricultural season is missed, the next harvest opportunity will not come for an additional 18 months.
Fantu Gezay, a farmer and a single mother of six living in Raya Azebo Woreda, Tigray told Oxfam: “The conflict erupted when farmers were about to harvest the produce left from the locust invasion. Whatever remained from the locust was destroyed by the war, and we couldn’t harvest the Teff and Maize crops.”
Nearly 1.7 million people have been forced to flee their homes in Tigray; thousands of families are crammed in small rooms in schools or churches. Women and girls face an additional risk in such conditions. Shelters have no partitions and lack gender segregation which puts them at risk of sexual and gender-based violence.
Freweyni Gebregzabher, from the Raya Azebo Woreda Agriculture Office, said: ‘‘My uncle was harvesting his sorghum crop a day before the war broke out. The next morning as the fighting intensified, he was shot dead while hiding in a church, and all his property was destroyed.”
Oxfam together with our local partners – the Organization for Rehabilitation and Development in the Amhara region (ORDA), and the Development and Inter-Church Aid Commission (DICAC) – have already reached 40,000 people in Tigray and north Amhara region with food, sanitation, and hygiene kits, as well as protection programmes. Oxfam urgently needs USD 10.78 million to support 225,000 people in Tigray and Amhara region by November, and help provide food, water, and sanitation facilities, as well as urgently needed hygiene and sleeping material.