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Plan International: Urgent Action Can Stop El Niño from Becoming a Humanitarian Crisis in Ethiopia

ADDIS ABABA - Urgent international support can prevent the intensifying El Niño-induced drought in Ethiopia from turning into a humanitarian crisis.

As the African Union Summit continues in Addis Ababa this week involving participation from UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, Plan International is calling for immediate support for Ethiopia where over 10 million people are in need of emergency food assistance.

Ethiopia is experiencing one of the worst droughts in decades and the size of the population needing humanitarian assistance is rising. Children and women make up for more than 60 percent of the population affected. It is estimated that 400,000 malnourished children will need therapeutic assistance this year if they don’t receive food soon.

The Ethiopian Government has so far provided strong leadership to the overall drought response, while a number of initiatives have been taken to mitigate the impact of the drought. However, greater international support is vital.

According to Manoj Kumar, Country Director of Plan International Ethiopia: “El Niño is destroying people’s livelihoods and challenging their survival. Children in particular are at risk due to a lack of food and water, and possibilities of disease outbreaks.

“Affected communities are increasingly finding it impossible to cope with the worsening situation and need immediate support. If the international community pulls together, a humanitarian emergency of vast proportions can be averted.”

Plan International Ethiopia is working with the government and reaching out to some of the worst affected populations. So far, Plan has supported nearly 50,000 children and pregnant and nursing women to ensure they have access to food in Amhara Region, Oromia Region, and Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples' Region (SNNPR) of Ethiopia.

Plan is also pre-prepositioning and distributing food, including flour and oil. Parents and pregnant and nursing women are taking part in health education classes, while health workers are being provided with support and training to help them cope with the increase in children with severe malnutrition.

About Plan International USA

Plan International USA, part of the Plan International Federation, is a child-centered development organization that believes in the promise and potential of children. For more than 75 years in over 50 developing countries, Plan has been breaking the cycle of child poverty. Everything Plan does – from strengthening health care systems to improving the quality of education, to advocating for increased protection and beyond – is built with, and owned by, the community. The result is a development approach designed to improve the lives of the youngest members of the community for the longest period of time. For more information, please visit

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