By Shannon Lane @shanonroselane
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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 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.
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.
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 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 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.
"It means they need to ask help from the people who killed their loved ones. Imagine the dilemma."
The severe drought is also forcing the local people to drink from water sources shared with animals, which are usually stagnant and contaminated.
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."