Situation Report for Region 1 (Tigray)

4 - 13 April, 1994


A field trip was made with the following objectives:

- To obtain an overview of the general situation of Region 1;

- To obtain the latest figures of people in need of relief food assistance, particularly in the most affected Eastern and Southern zones;

- To collect information on the various relief agencies regarding their current activities in the four zones of Region 1;

- to visit some of the woredas hardest hit by drought in the Southern zone and where there has been an almost complete failure of the Belg rains.


The almost complete failure of the Belg (short) rainy season in the Southern zone of Region 1 (Tigray) and the absence of rainfall in the remaining zones has further aggravated the already critical conditions in large parts of the region. The Eastern and Southern zones are worse than two months ago and in the Central and Western zones the situation is also becoming critical. Normally, small rains are expected throughout the entire region at this time of the year. Although these rains are not sufficient for growing crops, they are very important for the water supply for human and animal consumption and at the same time they are necessary for land preparation.

Severe malnutrition is increasing in the Eastern and Southern zones, whereas signs of mild malnutrition were reported to the regional health bureau in Mekelle from the other zones. Outbreaks of measles are also occurring, particularly in drought-affected areas.

According to the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA), the incidence of various livestock diseases are increasing. Rinderpest (PPR) is the most common disease followed by Anthrax, Blackleg and Pasteurellosis. The animals are more exposed to these diseases during periods of drought due to lack of water and fodder. In the Eastern and Southern zones farmers tend to migrate with their animals to grazing land in Region 2 (Afar) where the animals become susceptible to other transmittable diseases not normally encountered in the highlands. The MoA is trying to alleviate the problem with vaccination campaigns, although insufficient drug supplies and logistical constraints are hampering their efforts.

Food prices remain very high and food availability in the markets has decreased. Prices for livestock are low, due to low purchase capacities and that more and more livestock are being affected by diseases as a result of the current drought.

Considering the prevalence of less favourable conditions over the past months in most of the region, the recently released Government estimate of over one million people in Region 1 now in need of relief assistance is not felt to be exaggerated.

Due to low stocks and an uncertain pipeline, the relief agencies face a very difficult task making sure that the most needy in the affected population receive food in time.

Local drought committees have been established in each zone and, together with the regional bureau of the Relief and Rehabilitation Commission (RRC), are monitoring conditions very closely. This way they hope to allocate available relief food stocks in the most efficient way.

Apart from the immediate problem of insufficient food supplies for the population, the current drought has slowed down development activities. Some Food-for-Work (FFW) programmes have had to be suspended, as many people are too weak to participate.

Relief food distributions have somewhat slowed down the migration to towns and other regions observed previously.

The outlook for the coming months is very bleak; hoping for rain, the farmers are now busy plowing and preparing their drought-ridden land everywhere in the region. Comments about the peasants having become lazy and sitting around waiting for relief food instead of working their land must be dismissed.


Presently, relief operations are covered by the following agencies:

Western and Central zones: REST

Eastern zone: REST and RRC**

Southern zone: JRP and IFRC/ERCS

** Since REST did not have sufficient stocks to cover the beneficiaries in the three zones, the regional bureau of the RRC (RRB) had to intervene and carry out relief distributions to about 230,000 beneficiaries in the Eastern zone.

At the beginning of March, the RRC received almost 5,000 MT of wheat grain from the World Food Programme (WFP) for immediate distribution. The consignment was transported to the RRC stores in Adigrat, Wukro, Alamata and Maychew.

The breakdown of the 5,000 MT of wheat grain distributed in March and stock position at the end of March 1994 is given in the table below:

 Wheat grain - RRC           Quantity              Place                             
 Distributed                   2,325 MT            Eastern Zone                      
                            223 MT                Southern Zone**                    
 Stock end of                    500 MT            RRB Wukro  RRB Adigrat  RRB       
March                       295 MT      450 MT    Alamata  RRB Maychew               
                            963 MT                                                   
 Total quantity                4,756 MT                                              
distributed or in   RRB                                                              
 Balance                         244 MT            Expected from RRC                 
                                                  Nazareth in April                  

** Loan to JRP for Chercher woreda in March 1994

According to the RRB in Mekelle, around 1,500 MT of grain were pre-positioned in the Southern zone in case JRP or the International Federation of the Red Cross (IFRC) should have difficulties with their pipeline. Should the need arise, the RRB would be able to fill the gap.

In March 1994, between 40 and 80 percent of the beneficiaries registered by the RRB and the administration received food rations. Due to shortage of stocks the rations were reduced in the Eastern, Central and Western zones in order to reach more needy people.




The following information regarding relief food distributions and number of beneficiaries was collected from the RRB, local administrations, REST, JRP and IFRC. Detailed figures for each woreda could not be collected in all zones. Some agencies have figures per distribution point (which may include several woredas) and others did not have the latest figures available yet.


In the Southern zone, figures for drought-affected people will increase for the month of April due to the failure of the Belg rains. The number of beneficiaries for each woreda for March and April identified by the RRB and the local administrations as well as the actual number of beneficiaries having received food by JRP and IFRC/ERCS are as follows:

                     MARCH 1994           APRIL 1994                                
 Alamata               35,000               51,000              JRP/Wollo           
 Chercher              14,899               22,327              do.                 
 Korem                 10,492               18,000              do.                 
 Mehoni                23,000               32,468              JRP/ECS             
 Indamehoni            18,500               29,725              do.                 
 Nekseg                 1,794                4,500              do.                 
 Alage                  9,000               13,380              do.                 
 Bora                   2,500                3,000              do.                 
 Sloa                   1,500                4,932              do.                 
 Didiba                12,000               21,500              do.                 
 Inderta               15,115               27,111              do.                 
 Samre                  4,000                7,605              do.                 
 Saharti                1,500                5,361              do.                 
 Maymado                -----                1,000              do.                 
 Mekelle               30,000               37,091              do.                 
 Adi Gudom             12,500               17,000              IFRC/ERCS           
 Hintalo               11,200               16,000              do.                 
 Wajirat               15,000               22,000              do.                 
 Total Benef.         218,000              334,000                                  

The actual number of beneficiaries that have received food in the Southern zone in March is as follows:

118,609 beneficiaries by JRP/ECS

62,341 " " JRP/Wollo

55,000 " " IFRC/ERCS


235,950 beneficiaries


JRP ration size: 12.5 kg wheat grain, 900 g oil, 1.0 kg suppl.

IFRC ration size: 12.5 kg wheat grain, l.0 kg oil, 3.0 kg beans

Taking into consideration the number of drought-affected people registered by the RRB (290,774 persons), around 80 percent have received relief food in March 1994.

In March, IFRC/ERCS distributed food to the increased number of beneficiaries in the three woredas of Hintalo, Adi Gudom and Wajirat.

The JRP/ECS office in Mekelle has accepted figures for the increased number of beneficiaries for April, but may not be able to cover all their beneficiaries due to a shortage of food.

Food distributions by JRP in Alamata, Chercher and Korem are still coordinated by the Lutheran World Federation/Mekane Yesus (LWF/EECMY) relief office in Dessie. Since the above-mentioned woredas are now part of Region 1, discussions are underway to shift the coordination to the JRP/ECS office in Mekelle.


Due to lack of sufficient stocks, REST was not in a position to cover all the woredas in the Eastern zone for the period of March. The majority of the relief food was distributed by the RRB. In order to reach more beneficiaries with the limited stocks available, rations were cut to 10.0 kg of wheat grain or sorghum plus 2.0 kg chickpeas or rice, 1,5 kg CSB and 450 g of oil.

The following data concerning relief food distributions in March was provided by the RRB and REST Mekelle:

 WOREDA                      NUMBER OF              RELIEF AGENCY                   
 Wukro                          13,000              RRB                             
 Tserae                         28,000              do.                             
 Doga Geralta                   18,000              do.                             
 Bizet                          10,000              do.                             
 Subha Saesie                   24,029              do.                             
 Gulo Mekeda                    14,000              do.                             
 Atsbi                          25,739              do.                             
 Kilte Belessa                  28,450              do.                             
 Wumberta                       23,740              RRB / REST  (12,940 / 10,800)   
 Ganta Afeshum                  46,000              RRB / REST  (35,800 / 10,200)   
 Tsaeda Emba                    28,429              RRB / REST  (12,469 / 15,960)   
 Erope                          15,000              RRB / REST  (10,035 / 4,965)    
 Adigrat                        20,000              REST                            
 Assefe Sebeya                  18,000              do.                             
 Kolla Geralta                  15,613              do.                             
 TOTAL                         328,000              Beneficiaries                   

Additionally, World Vision International (WVI) is distributing FFW rations in Atsbi and Wumberta woredas. The average number of beneficiaries per month amounts to 4,250. With the daily payment for FFW activities of 3.0 kg of wheat grain and 120 g of oil, it is estimated that they are providing food for 22,000 persons.

Comparing the number of drought-affected persons registered by the RRB (500,000) with the number of beneficiaries having actually received food in March (REST/RRB 328,000 plus WVI 22,000 = 350,000), around 70 percent of the affected population of the Eastern zone have received reduced rations.

How the distributions are going to be carried out in April is not yet decided. It depends on the stocks available to REST and the RRB.


In February/March 1994 105,731 beneficiaries of the former Adwa awraja woredas Indabatsahama, Rama, Enticho, Adwa and Adi Abun received relief food. In the badly affected Nadir woreda (former Axum awraja) 6,000 beneficiaries were given food rations.

In the Tembien woredas distributions were underway. Due to the shortage of relief food stocks, REST had to distribute the food which was pre-positioned in their Hagere Selam store for development activities.

As in the Eastern zone, the rations were reduced.

The way the distributions will be carried out in April depends on the availability of relief food as well as the outcome of the monthly assessment of the conditions in the various woredas.

Negotiations between REST and SCF (UK) for another Internal Purchase Programme for the Central zone for 1994 are underway.

According to the zonal administration in Axum only approximately 50 percent of the drought-affected population (233,781 persons; assessed by the zonal administration and RRB) was covered by food distributions in March.


REST as the only relief agency in the Western zone, has distributed reduced food rations (10.0 kg of wheat grain or sorghum, 450 g of oil and 1.5 kg of CSB) for the month of March as follows:

 WOREDA                                    NUMBER OF BENEFICIARIES                  
 Badime                                           3,782                             
 Shiraro                                          9,938                             
 Adi Hageray                                        966                             
 Adi Awala                                        6,644                             
 Dima                                             6,335                             
 Inda Selasie                                     1,942                             
 Adi Nebreid                                      2,893                             
 Tsembela                                           949                             
 Total number of benefici-  aries in             33,449                             
March 1994                                                                          

Roughly 40 percent of the affected population (86,000 persons registered by RRB) was covered by REST's distribution.

As the situation is still deteriorating in the worst affected woredas, REST has a plan to increase the number of beneficiaries to 40,000 for the month of April.

GTZ will start an Integrated Food Security Programme in the four woredas of Adi Aro, Adi Nebreid, Adi Hageray and Adi Awala. In the first three woredas 420 MT and in the latter 140 MT of sorghum have already been stored in the woreda towns. The programme is linked to FFW activities.


With the almost complete failure of the Belg rains, the seven woredas normally producing Belg season crops will face difficult months ahead. Since the Meher season also failed last year the farmers prepared all the available land in order to compensate for last year's insufficient crop production. Although the Mehoni plain looks nice and green from a distance, the sown teff is already starting to wilt and the fields will be re-ploughed and planted with sorghum for the Meher season.

The zonal MoA provided the figures for the area of arable land, actually prepared and cultivated in Belg producing woredas for 1994. The following table shows the actually prepared land exceeding the area of arable land for Belg crops in all the woredas. All available land was prepared for the Belg season in order to make up for losses due to the failure of last year's Meher season. Finally, when the Belg rains did not start in time, only 12,573 hectares were actually planted and cultivated.

Area of arable land for Belg season, actually pre-

pared and cultivated (hectares)

 WOREDA              arable land for      actually pre- pared  cultivated           
 Mehoni                7,090                15,745               6,715              
 Chercher              9,457                 9,037                 195              
 Alamata               7,050                 8,709               4,063              
 Wajirat               1,000                 1,808                 780              
 Indamehoni            1,800                 2,330                 355              
 Alage                   370                   380                 115              
 Korem                 4,000                 5,250                 350              
 Total                30,760 ha             43,252 ha           12,573 ha           

The figures below represent the total amount of rainfall for the month of March:

Indamehoni 59.0 mm

Mehoni 58.0 mm

Chercher 64.0 mm

Alamata 76.0 mm

Korem 17.4 mm

Alage 13.0 mm

Wajirat 10.8 mm

There were only three days of rain during the first half of the month; two light showers with 2-4 mm of rain and one day of heavy rainfall. For the past three weeks it has again been completely dry and the sown crops (mostly teff) are wilting. According to the MoA, for a good harvest yield an average of 400-500 mm of rain are required.



During this field trip the newly opened Mekelle College for Dryland Agriculture and Natural Resources was visited.

Some years ago it was felt that the existing agricultural universities and colleges were neglecting agricultural training in arid and semi-arid parts of the country.

Among five possible locations for the establishment of such an institution (Alemaya, Awassa, Bahir Dar, Kombolcha and Mekelle), Mekelle was chosen as it is centrally located in a frequently drought-affected area.

The college is situated on the outskirts of the town. It was established in a former army camp and many buildings were rehabilitated, while other new buildings were added.

In November 1993 the first 40 students started their 4 year courses. Currently they are trained in soil and water conservation, crop and animal science. There are already plans to expand and include geology and mechanical engineering.

The courses strongly emphasize practical aspects and students are expected to spend 6 months in the field at the end of the third year.

The college has been funded by the World Bank and further funding is requested for the planned expansion.

The Dean is also trying to establish connections with overseas universities for staff training and staff exchange.

The MoA will establish a Rural Technology Promotion Center in Mekelle. The center will develop improved agricultural technology (plough shares, beehives, carts, etc.) and offer agricultural training programmes.


UNICEF is assisting the Ministry of Health (MoH) in family planning and health related matters concerning mother and child care.

The MoH fears that as of June (beginning of the rainy season) they will not have enough medicine against Malaria.

They are looking urgently for a donor to provide community health workers and midwives with first aid and delivery kits (500 each). These two items are of great importance in the rural areas, but the MoH is lacking funds to provide the equipment.


Mekelle: Ato Aragawi, Head of Regional RRB

Ato Alemayu, Relief Dept. RRB

Abo Hagos, Relief Coordinator JRP/ECS

Ato Berhane, Head of REST Tigray

Mr. David Staple, IFRC Delegate

Ato Hagos, Branch Secretary ERCS

Ato Berhane, Head of Regional Bureau MoA

Ato Tekle, Head of Regional Bureau MoH

Ato Telahun, Vice Dean of Mekelle College

of Dryland Agriculture

Adigrat: Ato Muja, Head of RRB Eastern zone

Ato Jonathan, Representative of WVI

(WVI office is in Atsbi, near Wukro)

Ato Kidane, Head of MoA Eastern zone

Axum: Ato Teklay, Head of Social Services of

Central zone

Inda Selasie: Ato Kassahun, Secretary of the Admin.

of the Western zone

Ato Woldu, Representative of REST

Maychew: Ato Kassay, Head of RRB Southern zone

Ato Futsum, Acting Head of MoA Southern zone

Ato Hagos, Head of Zonal Finance Dept.

Mehoni: Ato Samson, Agricultural Extension Expert

Chercher: Ato Tewolde, Woreda Administrator

Ato Taame, Agricultural Extension Expert

Alamata: Ato Alemayu, Woreda Administrator

Dessie: Ato Dereje, Relief Coordinator, JRP/EECMY

Hans Spiess,

Field Officer for Regions 1 & 3

Addis Abeba, April 20, 1994

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    Editor: Ali B. Dinar, (aadinar@sas.upenn.edu)