By Shannon Lane @shanonroselane

THE HORN of Africa is suffering its worst drought in decades, causing devastating effects to the people and their livestock

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The local people are relying on government and charity aid

Almost 12 million people in Ethiopia and Somalia are in urgent need of food and assistance due to lack of rain, poor crops and death of livestock.

The current drought in southern and eastern parts of Ethiopia is caused by the negative Indian Ocean dipole, leading to mass famine.

The zone is exclusively inhabited by farmers

The Indian Ocean dipole is a warm pool of water that migrates between western and eastern “poles” and affects atmospheric temperatures and rainfall. The phenomenon occurs in cycles of positive (warmer) and negative (cooler) sea temperatures, but it has become more extreme in recent years due to climate change.

The local people are desperate for help to save their livestock

One of the areas struggling the most is Borena, the Oromia Region of Ethiopia, where it hasn’t rained for a year in some locations. The zone is exclusively inhabited by farmers, relying solely on their livestock for sustenance and well-being.

The area rarely receives visits from tourists

French photographer Eric Lafforgue visited The Horn of Africa in March 2017 and was shocked by the distressing scenes.

He said: “Once we got there, the weather was very hot and everything was dry.

The water they are forced to drink is shared with the animals

"The people quickly stopped us to tell us how difficult their life is with all the cows dying, cows are the only wealth of those pastoralists.”

Borena is far from the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa, and rarely receives tourists. The zone has also had rifts with the government in the past.

The lack of rain is leading to poor crops and famine

The photographer said: "The people of Borena are Oromos, and Oromos fought the government for months. A state of emergency has been put again for four months.

The water they drink is contaminated and stagnant

"It means they need to ask help from the people who killed their loved ones. Imagine the dilemma."

The livestock are skin and bone due to the lack of food

The severe drought is also forcing the local people to drink from water sources shared with animals, which are usually stagnant and contaminated.

The people have to travel to collect dirty water every day

In the more immediate term local government is now donating food to the areas most affected by famine, and dozens of aid agencies are taking donations to help support the countries affected by drought and conflict.

Eric said: "The people of Borena told me to tell their situation to the world, as they cannot."