7 September 2000


Ethiopia Assists UN Military Liaison Officers

Ethiopia, in line with the UN Security Council resolution following the 18 June agreement on the Cessation of Hostilities, has trained 74 military officers, who will act as counterparts to the United Nations military liaison officers. The trainees were given lessons on the essence and legal mandates of UN peacekeeping forces, immunities and privileges of peacekeeping forces as well as on the mandate of the United Nations Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE). The task of the local liaison officers will be to provide the UN military observers and liaison officers with necessary information required for quick deployment and smooth functioning of peacekeeping operations.

The contributors to the peacekeeping operations, as reported by Secretary General Kofi Annan to the UN Security Council, will be provided by 19 member states. These countries are Algeria, Austria, Canada, China, Finland, Ghana, India, Italy, Kenya, Nepal, Peru, Poland, Romania, Spain, Sweden, Tanzania, Ukraine, Uruguay and Zambia.

Remote Areas of Somali Region Reached for Assessments by Helicopter

Since commencing operations on 23 July, the WFP charted helicopter has flown for over 100 hours, during which time security and food needs assessments were undertaken in areas of Somali Region, which cannot be reached by fixed-wing aircraft. The election took place on 31 August in the Somali Region with only one significant incident reported. The WFP helicopter has been used for securing assessments.

New UN Office in Somali Region

Following a visit to Hargele in the Afder Zone of Somali Region by the WFP Regional Head of Logistics, it has been agreed to establish a sub office in this area to undertake logistics and food monitoring activities. The office will function as a joint UN field unit.

Decline in the Cases of Severely Malnourished Children — Gode Zone

The overall health situation in Gode Zone is improving. Admission to the therapeutic feeding center in Denan has decreased during the last three weeks and is continuing to decrease. Also, there are high discharges from the centers. But according to MSF Belgium’s recent survey, the global and moderate malnutrition rate in Denan did not show much decline. It is also reported that the under five children in the camp in Denan is not improving as much as the residents. Therefore, emergency assistance is still needed.

In Gode town, the number of beneficiaries and the enrollment rate in the feeding centers has also decreased. Numbers at the Save the Children-USA therapeutic feeding center has decreased to 232 at the end of August, compared to 426 one month ago, and a high of 591 in late June. Beneficiaries supported through the Ogaden Welfare Society (OWS) supplementary feeding center (now receiving dry rations) have dropped to 2,011 from a high of 3,089 in early June.

Migrants from Somalia in Gode Zone

Some estimated 150 - 300 Somali migrants from Hudur, Garasle, and other areas migrated to Gode Zone recently. The cause of their migration appears to be associated with the food distribution in Kelafo, Mustahil and Ferfer weredas of Gode Zone.

Returnee situation in Tigray region

The Emergency Coordinating Committee of Tigray Region has registered more than 10,000 returnees since June 2000. On August 25, a total of 1,541 were registered in Adwa and 2,131 in Adigrat towns.

The Emergency Coordinating Committee is establishing semi-permanent shelters to accommodate future returnees in Adwa. Most of the supplies required for this facility are in place and negotiations for electric and water utilities, medical supplies and latrine construction are at initial stages. The current shelters, an open stadium for women and children and the municipality building for men, are inappropriate for continuous waves of returnees. With an objective of providing a nine-month subsistence food allocation and repatriation grant during a timeframe of 5 - 8 days, a functional system involving screening and registration of returnees is well in place.

The last batches of returnees accommodated in the school compound in Adigrat were being assisted to their home areas on 27 August. With the commencement of the school year, the school will no longer be available to accommodate future returnees. The need for semi-permanent shelters, similar to the set-up in Adwa, is quite clear. Despite some deliveries of plastic sheeting by UNICEF and other organizations, the required shelter materials are not in place and no negotiations have started.

Grasshopper Outbreak in Gurage Zone

There was a recent report on Ethiopian Television of a grasshopper outbreak in four weredas in Guraghe Zone (Southern Peoples Region) and one wereda in Oromiya Zone (Amhara Region). The Crop Production, Protection, Technology and Regulatory Department of the Ministery of Agriculture only heard of the infestation on 2 September, a month after the breakout started. The Department acted immediately and sent a team to investigate this outbreak. The Government is currently compiling the report but informs that necessary steps have been taken to contain the infestation. Damage to the teff crop is unknown.


UNICEF - Update

Water and sanitation

Pit latrines and garbage pits have been constructed for use by IDPs in Gode town. Community training has been delivered on the use and maintenance of these facilities as well as on basic hygiene. UNICEF continues to provide funds for fuel and technical assistance required for the town water supply system.

Water drilling

Support to drilling activities continues in Borena Zone and Somali region. Pumps are provided to Daraye village, Gode Zone and maintenance of existing water points is ongoing. A planned mission to repair a drilling rig was postponed due to concern for security in the area.


(Courtesy of Taffese Olkeba, FEWS NET Field Representative to Ethiopia)

The Progress of Meher Season

The western half of the country, which normally receives moisture supply from the Atlantic Ocean, has enjoyed generally favourable weather since the onset of the main growing season. Rainfall in the main surplus growing areas of the northwest and west of the country has been well distributed, and rainfall totals are near normal. Therefore, expected agriculture production in these areas should be equal or perhaps even slightly higher than that of the last year.

Three months have passed since the current rainy season began in June, with one month remaining before the normal end of season. As a general statement, from the start of the season in June, through the first half of July, rains have been highly irregular in time and space and low in amount over the eastern half of the country. Persistent scarcity of rainfall has continuously been observed over the southern and eastern half of the country. This phenomenon has been caused by above normal sea surface temperature over the Indian Ocean that affected moisture supply source to the southern and eastern half of the country. Consequently, much of the eastern and southern parts of the SNNPR, the crop dependent lowlands of Bale, Borena, East and West Hararghe Zones of Oromiya Region have been seriously affected.

The pastoral areas of Borena Zone of Oromiya Region and the lowlands of Somali Region have remained seasonably dry.


The scarcity of rains during the belg season and the late start of the meher season rains and subsequent irregularities up to the first half of July have generally been unfavorable for the long cycle crop (maize and sorghum) production over much of the lowland areas in the eastern half of the country. In the midlands of the east, late rains in August have reportedly helped crops to regenerate and revive. In all lowland areas, however, particularly in East and West Hararghe Zones, the lowlands of Bale Zone and in all of Konso, Derashe and Burji Special weredas, crops have reportedly perished. In pocket areas of these places, some farmers have been able to substitute the long cycle crops farms with teff, the production of which is very low.

In the northeastern parts of the country, in East and South Tigray Zones, eastern parts of North and south Welo Zones, in particular, late planted long cycle crops are reportedly in good shape but under the normal development stages. They require extended rains up to end of September. Because of such situations, the withdrawal period of the rains from northern areas determines food security of millions in the coming cyclical year 2001.

Production Prospect

Western, southwestern, and northwestern regions, which normally produce significant proportion of the national grain production are expected to produce equal to or slightly higher than that of the last year. Crop dependent areas in the eastern half of the country, however, are expected to produce less or possibly much less than that of the last year — and production last year was less than average. Given the recurrence of drought, poorly distributed rainfall and depletion of food security assets of the population in this part of the country, the return of rains in August should not be construed as a recovered season. Indeed, it would be extremely naïve to be optimistic that the season in the east of the country will recover.

In the pastoral areas of south and southeast, a significant proportion of the livestock have perished during the last three successive drought years. The productive capacity of the rest of the livestock is believed to be minimal. In such a circumstance, food aid for the pastoralists needs to continue without significant reduction in amount.

Weather Outlook

The Drought Monitoring Centre in Nairobi (DMC) led Consensus weather Outlook for the Greater Horn, for the period of September to December 2000, has been reached at Kisumu, Kenya. Many Meteorological Centers including UK Met Office, Californian Met Office, IRI, NOAA and nine East African Met Offices attended the forum with their analysis and predications. With the exception of NOAA, which predicted average weather conditions, the rest have individually, and in building the consensus, agreed that eastern and southeastern parts of Ethiopia are likely to experience below to very much below average rainfall during the period under review. The forecasters predict average to above average rainfall for the northern half of the country, including Tigray. For more information contact the Drought Monitoring Center for the Greater Horn of Africa at

Implication of the DMC Forecast

Weather forecasting is probabilistic, indicating likelihood based on statistical method. However, nature does not always obey statistical laws and meteorological trends in the tropics are extremely difficult to detect. Such information were indispensable in food production in general and crop production in particular. The convergence of opinion of most met centers puts more weight on the accuracy of the DMC forecast.

If the forecast turns out to be correct, the situation of pastorals in southern and southeastern parts of the country will further deteriorate during the first quarter of 2001, and this will require continued food aid and other assistance. Furthermore, the crop dependent population adjoining the pastoral areas may not be able to produce short season crops and pulses during their short rainy season (September-November) and this will exacerbate the food security situation there.



A budget revision to WFP emergency operation EMOP 6080.01(relief food for Ethiopians internally displaced by the Ethiopia/Eritrea border conflict) is being prepared at present with an expected increase in the number of beneficiaries to be assisted from 272,000 to 352,500.

An official DPPC request to assist over 63,000 Ethiopians returning from Eritrea was sent to donors and UN agencies 18 August. There is general agreement that this figure, which includes those that have not yet arrived, is an accurate estimate of those who have already returned and those expected to return over the coming weeks. This figure will be reflected in the budget revision to EMOP 6080.01 referred to above.

Discussions are underway between WFP, UNHCR and relevant government agencies to provide food assistance to 2000-3000 Eritrean refugees in Northern Tigray. WFP’s Refugee Unit has reserved a three-month ration to meet immediate needs and transport of these commodities will commence as soon as agreement is reached among the various partners on the modalities of operation.



Some 80,456 MT of WFP commodities were dispatched from Djibouti Port during August at a daily average rate of 2,604 MT. In July, a total of 111,000 MT of WFP food was moved from Djibouti to the main hubs.

The erection of a 5,000 MT moveable storage unit at Djibouti Port has been finalized which will provide additional storage space for port operations.


Population Tracking and Food Security Workshop

On 11 August 2000, IOM (International Organisation for Migration) and WFP wrapped up a two-day training workshop in Jijiga, Somali National Regional States (SNRS), discussing the causes of migration and its effects on food security. An information system is being piloted to capture this valuable information systematically for emergency preparedness and response.

The workshop, that included sessions on the Dynamics of Population Movements, Food Security in Pastoral Areas, Participatory Rural/Rapid Appraisal Techniques and a review of Data Collection processes, is part of a larger project envisioned by IOM and WFP to establish a regional Geographic Information System (GIS) to monitor population movements and expand data sharing among relief agencies.

Questionnaires are currently being completed in Somali region with a data base specialist in WFP Addis Ababa collating and analysing the data. It is hoped to extend this initiative to other parts of the Horn of Africa after the completion of this phase.

Workshop on Drought & Cross Border Related Livestock Emergency Issues

The office of the Regional Humanitarian Coordinator and the FAO Emergency Unit recently joined to organize a workshop on drought and cross border related livestock emergency issues. The objectives were to assess the activities performed by different organisations with regard to the current livestock emergency situation; to exchange views on possible emergency livestock interventions; to establish information sharing mechanisms on cross border issues related to livestock; to develop thoughts on how to improve early reaction capacity for livestock emergencies and to get feedback from the participants on what they see the role of FAO in livestock emergency situations.

It became immediately clear that very few livestock emergency activities were implemented in Ethiopia, hardly any in Kenya and almost none in Somalia. Causes identified included poor livestock (emergency) policies, poorly defined emergency strategies, absence of clear contingency plans and a poor and late response of the donor community.

Proposed solutions included the urgent need for the development of a sensitive livestock early warning system and drought contingency plans for the livestock sector at district, national, and regional level.

The participants recommended that FAO assist countries in the preparation of national livestock and regional livestock emergency response policies, develop guidelines and models for livestock contingency plans, and streamline methodologies for livestock related data collection in early warning systems.


Findings from the Regional Health and Drought Workshop

Fourteen participants from WHO, UNICEF, NGOs and the office of the Regional Humanitarian Coordinator (ORHC) met in Addis Ababa during 17 and 18 August 2000 to address cross border health issues related to drought in the Horn of Africa. The objectives of the meeting were to share information, discuss issues relevant to the impact of the drought on the health and nutrition status of the population in countries sharing common borders in the Horn of Africa. The focus of attention was put on the nomadic population affected by the drought in Somalia, Kenya, Ethiopia, and Djibouti.

Within the mandate of the WHO Horn of Africa Initiative and the ORCH Office for the Horn of Africa to enhance inter-country cooperation on health and human security, effective mechanisms for health intervention in the drought-affected areas can be developed and put in place. In conclusion, the workshop highlighted these priority recommendations:

Health & Nutrition Training / Surveillance

UNICEF, together with the Somali Regional Health Bureau, conducted a regional training on health and nutrition from 28 to 31 August in Jijiga of Somali Region. Attended by twenty-four health workers from seven Zones in Somali region, the training focused on nutritional requirements in emergency situations. The topics ranged from assessment and surveillance to programme management and treatment of associated disease. The training also discussed the control of major communicable diseases and environmental health control. Preparations are underway for a nutritional survey of children under five in Erer, Idora and Asbule weredas in Shinille Zone, also in Somali Region.

Two Center for Disease Control (CDC) epidemiologists are conducting similar training for NGOs in Burji of Southern Region with a focus on surveillance, sampling, establishment and management of feeding centres. A nutrition and mortality survey will also take place at the same time.

Emergency Health & Nutrition Assessment of Bale Zones

Bale Zone is one of the worst drought affected Zones of Oromiya Regional State. In this Zone, the drought occurred for more than three consecutive years resulting in widespread livestock mortality, crop failure and subsequent food and water shortages. A UNICEF consultant conducted a study in July 2000, to assess the condition of the drought and its impact on human and livestock as well as the interventions underway.

The impact of the drought is seen in a decline in household food security, shortage of water and pasture, increased student’s dropout rate, death of livestock, disruption in the traditional market prices for grains and livestock, migration of people from village to towns, crop failure, and increase in disease prevalence.


South Welo Zone, located in Amhara region, consists of seventeen weredas, with a total population of approximately 2,500,000 people. Thirteen weredas have been affected by the drought, six severely so. Five of these weredas are mainly belg producing, located in the highlands. The total estimated number of people affected as of June 2000 was 1,185,920 as compared to 786,000 in January.

As in most other drought-affected areas, food security in South Welo is precarious, among others, due to a high population density, small land holdings per household, heavy reliance on rain and decreasing soil fertility. South Welo is structurally food deficit, with much of the population chronically dependent on food aid. Many farmers supplement subsistence agriculture with cash income from seasonal labour, hiring out animals for transport or ploughing and/or the sale of firewood or charcoal. In times of stress, coping mechanisms include the sale of small livestock, productive assets such as mules, horses and oxen and —as a last resort— out-migration.

South Welo Zone has had unsatisfactory meher harvests since 1998 and belg harvest as of last year due to unfavourable climatic conditions. Prospects for the current meher season rainfall seem good, notwithstanding reports of hailstorms, frost and insect pests that have negatively impacted young plants. Livestock condition is much better than in 1999, although farmers are still suffering from a lack of oxen.

Nutrition surveys and missions carried out by the DPPB, NGOs, and WHO/ORHC indicate that malnutrition rates since May 1999 have been higher than usual and that this year malnutrition rates, in particular, are alarming in at least three weredas, passing the threshold of 15 per cent.

Where general food rations have not been adequate, a problem sometimes compounded by inappropriate targeting mechanisms, the impact of food distributions over the past couple of years has been limited. Because the DPPD in South Welo is not generally in favour of selective feeding programmes targeting the moderately and severely malnourished, distribution of supplementary food (blended food) has been mainly through wereda committees. This year, several NGOs have obtained permission to establish feeding programmes for the malnourished to improve the impact of supplementary food.

Likewise, general food distributions in 1999 and the first five months of this year have been, by and large, insufficient to cover the needs. In many cases, NGO involvement in supporting food distributions started only in May 2000 when larger quantities of DPPC food started to arrive in South Welo. Because the belg rains failed again this year, DPPC food distribution to belg producers is expected to continue to July next year because it is anticipated that they will have their harvest by then. DPPC food stocks are sufficient to provide food to all affected farmers until October and an additional two months to belg producers.

World Vision Complements Development with Emergency Activities

World Vision Ethiopia has been active in Welo since 1984. Its current programme in Tenta wereda in South Welo began in 1998 with a five-year agreement with the Government to do development work in the fields of agricultural, health and education promotion, credit, capacity building, and water resource development. However, when the belg rains failed in 1999, World Vision felt that it could react efficiently to the emergency because it already had a strong grass root presence in the wereda. Therefore, World Vision responded to the crisis by providing food assistance amounting to 2.5 million birr. This relief food was purchased locally and distributed during July and August 1999.

Following the failure of the 2000 belg rains, World Vision provided further food relief assistance amounting to 4,202 MT cereal and 389 Faffa MT locally purchased and distributed for the period May to September. For the coming months, to the end of December, World Vision is leaving emergency food distribution in the hands of the DPPC as it concentrates on building rehabilitation programmes.

Presently, World Vision is compiling case studies for donors and for its quarterly nutritional survey to assess rehabilitation programmes. In the upcoming period World Vision would like to inject cash into the local economy through cash for work projects. Although the pilot project was highly successful the previous year, World Vision remains very conservative about cash for work projects.

EECMY/LWF Aims to Reduce Dependency and Increase Self-Reliance

Since 1974, the Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus/Lutheran World Federation (EECMY/LWF) has been conducting relief activities in South Welo. EECMY/LWF has been targeting the most severely affected community members and has distributed thousands of metric tons of relief food. In response towards the recent drought emergency, EECMY/LWF has distributed 1,096 MT of wheat to 87,736 beneficiaries.

As the crisis slowly lessens, EECMY/LWF recognizes the need to strengthen linkages between relief and development. With the aim of reducing dependency and increasing self-reliance, development projects have been initiated in a number of selected weredas in South Welo. These projects cover health services, including HIV/AIDS programmes, training, mother and child care; education programmes for elementary schools; a childcare programme for orphans; small-scale water development projects; and an integrated rural development programme in western Welo. Through this last initiative, EECMY/LWF has provided 801 horses for farmers (the farmers in the highlands prefer horses over oxen as they can be used both for ploughing and transport), 1,015 sheep to women, 79 MT. of seeds, and 11,103 farm tools.

Ethiopian Red Cross Society Responds to the Drought

In response to the drought, the Ethiopian Red Cross (ERCS), with the support of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRCS), is running bulk and supplementary food programmes in two weredas, Ambassel and Kutaber. The bulk food distribution assists 77,594 beneficiaries at 12.5 kg per person per month. In addition, since May 2000, supplementary food is provided at 3 kg per person per month to 23,278 children and mothers for an eight months period.

ERCS/IFRCS are setting up income generating schemes, such as cash for work, where they expect to engage 80 per cent of the beneficiaries. Moreover, they plan to assist the vulnerable belg households through provisions of seeds and fertilizers, and agricultural implements.


ORDA’s Efforts to Support the Amhara People

The Organization for Rehabilitation and Development in Amhara (ORDA) is a local NGO established in 1984 in response to the famine in the northern parts of Ethiopia. Three years ago, the organizations shifted its focus from merely relief activity to long term and sustainable development programme in an effort to support the Amhara people from being affected by a cyclical nature of drought.

ORDA is engaged in drought relief in Amhara region and operates in 54 weredas. During the past three months, it has distributed relief food aid amounting to 23,483 MT to over 1.1 million people. ORDA’s activities in South Welo are concentrated in soil and water conservation, road construction, and clean water supply. From January to June 2000, it distributed 34,269 MT grain, 319 MT supplementary food, 274 MT pulses, and 4,640 blankets in the Zone.

Save the Children UK Improves Nutritional Impact

Save the Children UK (SC — UK), initiated a Nutrition Surveillance Programme (NSP) in South Welo and other areas in the late 1980’s , to monitor the nutrition and food security situation in the zone. The NSP was implemented by SC UK until the end of 1999, but with increasing DPPD involvement. This year, the program was handed over to the DPPD , while SC-UK continues to provide technical and financial support to ensure a smooth transition.

However, SC UK continues to monitor children’s nutrition and food security indicators on the worst-affected areas through its emergency nutritional monitoring teams.

In 1999, SC UK distributed over 500 MT of blended supplementary food through DPPC, targeting all children under five, pregnant and lactating women. Upon review of the operation, the agency concluded that the impact of the distribution on the nutritional status of vulnerable groups was unsatisfactory. In order to improve the nutritional impact SC- UK targeting is supplementary food to moderately malnourished children and underweight pregnant and lactating women with 12 kg per month, in Legambo wereda . Standard medical treatment will be provided through mobile clinics at all screening/distribution sites. Severely malnourished children will be treated in the wereda hospital, which SC UK will support with special nutritious food, medicines and other non-food supplies if need be.

SC UK’s overall nutrition program goal in South Welo is to reduce public health risks associated with moderate and severe malnutrition among the most vulnerable groups. Objectives are to maintain levels of global malnutrition below 10%.

SC UK has been a reliable channel for food aid to South Welo since 1994. In the past year it has channeled over 30,000 MT through the zonal DPPD. SC UK is currently implementing systems to monitor the impact of this food aid on South Welo households.

SC UK has been involved in the planning and implementation of employment generation schemes in South Welo since 1995. More recently through the Canadian —funded institutional support project, SC UK works with the DPPC in the intensive piloting of EGS in the woredas of South Welo: Legambo, Mekdella, Debresina, Sayint , Wereillu . Support includes training, provision of hand tools and design equipment and logistical support. EGS incentives include water conservation works, forestation, road maintenance and construction and small irrigation programmes.

WFP’s Intervenes with Development and Relief Activities

Recognizing South Welo as one of the most chronically food deficit areas of Ethiopia, WFP has been involved for over six years in school feeding and agricultural rehabilitation activities in this Zone, in addition to its relief interventions. With 32 schools currently in receipt of support almost 16,000 children receive biscuits and famix drink. Furthermore, five weredas are involved in participatory rural land rehabilitation through food for work activities. While most resources are channels to assist victims of natural disaster, this is complemented by activities that strive towards achieving sustainable development.

Additional UN reports on South Welo can be found on