Just as the people rely on livestock for their wellbeing, the animals are dependant on adequate rainfall to replenish water sources, and to grow grasses and other types of animal fodder. However, in recent years, rainfall in Somali Region has been inadequate, resulting in dried up water sources and decreased pasture and animal fodder, leaving the livestock with insufficient food and water. Without enough to go around, animals in Fik grew thinner and began producing less milk. As a result, the value of the animals decreased, so the livestock owners received less income and often could not afford to pay for food and other necessities.
Insufficient food and water also caused the animals' immune systems to fail, leading to an increase in livestock diseases. In Somali Region, animal health services are difficult to find and often too expensive for livestock owners to afford. As a result, many sick animals went untreated. Compounding the situation, people in Fik started moving animals to other regions in search of food and water. The protracted traveling distances further weakened the livestock, leading to stress-induced miscarriages and low conception rates. With the animals unable to produce offspring, herd sizes began to decrease and the people of Fik had no means to replenish herds, which often takes an extended time and multiple seasons of sufficient rain. Since people in Fik rely on livestock to meet their basic needs, insufficient animal herds can leave them with inadequate coping mechanisms to overcome the next extended dry season.
As part of the overall response to agriculture and food security concerns in Ethiopia, USAID/OFDA supported a livelihoods protection program implemented by Save the Children/United Kingdom (SC/UK) in Fik Zone, Somali Region. The program benefited more than 155,000 people through activities designed to strengthen animal health, increase income for livestock owners, and help replenish livestock herds.