Ethiopia Humanitarian Update,October 2001

October 2001



UN Day of Peace Celebrated at Mereb

On 24 October 2001 diplomats, religious leaders, schoolchildren, and UN agencies from Ethiopia and Eritrea (including national staffs) celebrated the United Nations Day at the Mereb River Bridge. United Nations Mission to Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE) organized the event that was described as (symbolizing UN’s) intervention in promoting peace. The United Nations (and its Secretary General - Kofi Anan) was awarded the Nobel Prize for its work in promoting peace, earlier this year.

During the event, Legwaila Joseph Legwaila, UN Special Representative to the countries, said in a speech he delivered, " … I am stubbornly confident that the progress achieved in the peace process will be sustained, that the mandate of UNMEE will be fulfilled, and that a durable peace will be attained because the parties themselves want peace to reign in their countries and tranquility to prevail among their peoples".

As part of the celebration, UNMEE and UNICEF Ethiopia and Eritrea launched a jointly developed handbook on child protection for UN peacekeepers.

The bridge, where the meeting was held was one of the major crossing points between the two countries before the conflict. The bridge had been destroyed during the conflict and was restored after by UNMEE with funds from the Dutch government.

Ethiopian Parliament Elected New President
Lieutenant Girma Woldegiorgis was elected as president of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia at a joint session of the House of People's Representatives and the House of the Federation on 8 October. Lieutenant Girma has replaced Dr. Negasso Gidada, who served as the Ethiopian Head of State for the last six years. The new president was nominated by the ruling Ethiopian Peoples' Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) and elected with an overwhelming majority.

9th MCC Meeting Held in Djibouti

The ninth Military Coordination Commission (MCC) meeting of the United Nations Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE) was held in Djibouti on 29th October. On the issue of the bodies of members of the defense forces of the two countries lying in the Temporary Security Zone (TSZ), the two parties have agreed in principle, to the establishment of a committee made-up of representatives from the OAU the UN and the two countries to work out a mechanism for the collection of the bodies and to oversee the clearing operation.

The commission discussed the Peacekeeping Mission’s monitoring mandate under the Agreement on the Cessation of Hostilities (ACH), as well as the challenges it has experienced on the ground in carrying out their mandate including UNMEE’s freedom of movement. The commission also discussed the return of the remaining Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and the numbers of Eritrean militia and police inside the TSZ.

Finally, participants agreed that the tenth session of the MCC will be held on 28 November at the Mereb river bridge. The Mereb river bridge is located between the towns of Adi Quala in Eritrea and Rama in Ethiopia.

UN Agencies Sign a DAF Document

Large number of UN organizations in Ethiopia signed the United Nations Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF) document in Addis Ababa at the Africa Hall. The UNDAF document, which was signed on 10 October 2001, outlines the areas the UN system will be engaged in Ethiopia for the next three years. Speaking at the signing ceremony at the Africa Hall, the UNDP resident representative and UN resident coordinator, Dr. Samuel Nyambi said the document would enable the UN system to undertake its task of smoothly. Thus, the UN system will be working towards including sustained economic growth, food security and agriculture, basic social services, good governance as well as HIV/AIDS and development.

UNICEF, UNMEE Launched Handbook on Child Protection

As part of October 24 UN day event held at the Mereb River Bridge, UNMEE and UNICEF Ethiopia and Eritrea offices launched a jointly developed handbook on child protection for UNMEE peacekeepers. The Canadian and Netherlands Governments co-funded the booklet with the technical inputs from Swedish Save the Children and other organizations. Distribution of the booklet in the three UNMEE sectors will be complemented with further training and orientation activities targeting peacekeepers in conjunction with UNDP, UNAIDS and other organizations including local and international NGOs. The handbook is intended to help peacekeepers in understanding the key issues related to child in conflict (and post-conflict situations) and equip them with the basic tools of international human rights law including the Convention on the Righst of the Child and Geneva Convention.

Mine Risk Education in Tigray

The Rehabilitation and Development Organisation (RaDO) continues to provide Mine Risk Education to affected population of Tigray.

In August and September, 18,774 people participated in the various Mine Risk Education activities organised by RaDO agents, community volunteers and school teachers of the 42 mine contaminated tabias in seven woredas.

Since it started, the project has recorded 366 casualties due to mine or Unexploded Ordnance (UXO) casualties. Most of the casualties are children herding cattle and half of them are injured or killed by UXO. In addition the project recorded the death caused to Mine or UXO of numerous domestic animals.

World Food Day Celebrated

The 21st World Food Day was celebrated on Tuesday 16 October in Melka Hida Farmers Association in East Shoa Zone of Oromia Region with the farmers from Melka Hida and surrounding areas gathered for the occasion. Government officials were present including Ministers, Representatives of UN Agencies, Embassies and NGOs. Farm implements and farm products were arranged and displayed by various organizations.

On the occasion, the former Minister of Agriculture, Dr. Mengistu Hulluka made a speech emphasizing the government's commitment towards the development of new methods and technologies to ensure food security. He also acknowledged FAO's contributions to make the "World Food Day'' a success and its assistance in promoting the country's development programme. Mr. Gearge K. Mburathi, FAO Representative in Ethiopia, to OAU and ECA at the occasion reiterated FAO's commitment and determination to complement and assist the Government of Ethiopia and its people to fight hunger.


Airstrip Survey Well Underway

In the mid 1980’s and again in the early 1990’s, major airlift and air-bridge operations helped to deliver emergency assistance. Aircrafts were mobilized but one major obstacle was the lack of information on airstrip conditions.

The UN-led project, in collaboration with the Ethiopian Civil Aviation Authority, carries out a technical survey for approximately 40 airstrips in the Somali and Amhara Regions. The survey results will update and enhance a database of airstrips in Ethiopia originally compiled by the UN in the early 1990’s. Fully geo-referenced, the information in the data base will be mapped and incorporated into a basic set of GIS (Geographic Information System) and other relevant management tools, to include digitized standard air navigation charts for Ethiopia and the Horn of Africa. Currently, survey work has been completed for 20 airstrips in Liben and Afder zones of the Somali Region.

UN-EUE and DPPC to Launch Information Coordination Project

In an aim of creating a one-stop shopping type application to facilitate humanitarian organization working in the Horn of Africa, the UN-EUE together with DPPC is working on the development of database applications. The overall objective of the Data and Information (D&I) Development and Coordination Project is to help humanitarian organizations achieve their goals using improved information system.

Upon completion and implementation of the D&I project, humanitarian organizations will enjoy such benefits as easy access to adequate data, reduced cost of data collection and processing, improved quality and reliability of data, as well as efficient and quick sharing of information with in organizations and globally.

For the successful completion of the project, the UN-EUE has prepared a training course on how to design projects using a standard format. The training courses will help NGOs to better understand and use standardized project designing techniques. With this objective in mind, the UN-EUE launched a pilot training aimed at NGOs and government offices in Yabelo wereda (Borena zone) from October 1-5.

Management Service Agreement Signed

The Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia through Ministry of Economic Development and Cooperation (MEDaC) formally signed the Management Service Agreement (MSA) with United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) to procure on their behalf US$ 1.5 Million worth of demining equipment to be used by Ethiopian Mine Action Office (EMAO). Items include vehicles, demining equipment, communications and medical equipment essential for the deployment of deminers to the north. (Note: The Ethiopian Mine Action Office has officially moved to their new headquarters off Meskal Square. Rehabilitation of the site is currently underway and the new EMAO HQ will be operational within a few weeks).

General Mine Survey to be Undertaken

Eight members of Ethiopia Mine Acton Office (EMAO) are trained to conduct demining survey activities, which will be entered into the Information Management System for Mine Action (IMSMA). The survey will also use the earlier record of Ethiopia Demining Project (EDP)/HALO Trust dangerous Area Survey, which depicted the locations of the Ethiopia and Eritrea trench lines as a baseline. The groups will be deployed shortly in the Tigray area to conduct the first phase of the general survey. The data collected from the survey would give an indication of the mine threat in the area and help in the planning process of the future mine clearance operations.

Survey Indicates Continuing Levels of Malnutrition

An anthropometric nutritional survey, conducted with funds and technical assistance from UNICEF, was undertaken in Fafan IDP camps from 16 to 20 October 2001. The survey team composed of MCDO, DPPB, and Rural Health Bureau (RHB/UNICEF) nutritionists measured 317 children between 65 and 100 cm of height.

The survey results show that the Global Acute Malnutrition (GAM) in Fafan is 19.2%, which indicates that malnutrition levels are still unacceptably high. UNICEF is recommending that MCDO's (Mother and Child Development Organization) Supplementary Feeding Center (SFC) in Fafan remains open for another 3 months, provided that funding is secured and regular general ration distributions to the IDPs in the forthcoming months is ensured by DPPB.

Meanwhile, recent movements of people in Gode Zone have resulted in an increased number of malnourished children admitted to Gode Hospital Pediatric Ward. UNICEF’s Nutrition Consultant in Gode has been assisting hospital staffs in the treatment of severely malnourished children with available supplementary food (F-100). Likewise, according to WFP, 2085.65mts of wheat have been distributed in the Zone during September. However, food remains a concern in the zone. UNICEF is supporting a special training in care of severely malnourished children for Gode Pediatric Ward staff, also intended to strengthen severe malnutrition referral capacities for outlying health posts within the zone.

Food assistance requirements for the Somali Region are currently around 14,000mts per month for 1.1 million people. While needs were not fully met in October, if expected contributions to WFP and DPPC are confirmed early in November, the outstanding requirements to the end of the year ould be covered.

Measles/Vitamin A Campaign Underway in Somali Region

The President of SNRS and UNICEF Representative launched a Measles/Vitamin A Campaign for Somali Region on 5 October in Jijiga. The campaign aims to target 630,000 children from 6-59 months in all nine Zones of the Region. Reports from the field indicate that the campaign in Gode and Shinile zones are completed, while the vaccination team which is currently in West Imi (Afder zone) has yet to complete the vaccination. In Korahe zone the campaign is near completion despite variable security constraints. Final figures on campaign coverage are expected at the end of November.


Survey on Returnees Underway

In collaboration with the Women’s Affairs Office, the Bureau of Labour and Social Affairs (BOLSA) and DPPB of Tigray, UNICEF has undertaken a survey of persons (estimated to be 65,000), who have returned from Eritrea during and after the Ethio-Eritrean conflict. The results of the assessment, which mainly looks at the socio-economic profile, skills and current conditions of returnees with emphasis on women and children, are expected to be released in November. Data collection activities have covered all four zones of the region and main urban centers. The survey was agreed on the basis of field reports expressing alarm about conditions faced including streetism, vagrancy and destitution.


Regional Task Force Prepares for Quick Action Project

As a follow-up to the recommendations of the last consultative meeting of 8-9 September 2001 held in Jijiga between the UN Country Team (UNCT), donors, the Federal DPPC and the SNRS Government, an inter-agency Regional Task Force was established in Jijiga on 23 September 2001. The Task Force comprises of members from UN-EUE, WFP, UNICEF, WHO, the Federal DPPC and the Regional Bureaus for Health, Water, and Agriculture and Livestock.

The Task Force is responsible for preparing a contingency plan for emergency in case the October rains fail and to explore options for screening and registration of IDPs in the SNRS in order to harmonize IDP figures and facilitate subsequent planning. To this end, the Task Force is divided into two working groups, (1) a working group on contingency planning, which currently is in the field to assess the situation on the ground and (2) a group working on IDPs that is discussing with local NGOs operating in IDP related issues, on strategies for screening and registration. The Task Force therefore is expected to come up with Quick Action Project proposals.

Annual Crop Assessment to be Launched

WFP and FAO are planning to launch their annual Assessment of Crop Production and Food Availability In Ethiopia. FAO on its part, plans to visit Ethiopia from 12 November to 8 December 2001 to assess the 2001 meher crop and estimate production and import requirements for the year 2002, including food aid needs. The FAO mission will be composed of two international consultants, an agronomist and an economist, as well as national consultants. The mission will spend few days in Addis Ababa to consult with government authorities, UN agencies, donors and NGOs, and will then undertake field trips to regions to assess the situation in the field. The final assessment report is expected to be a joint FAO-GIEWS (Global Information and Early Warning Systems) and WFP that would give an overview of the overall crop and food situation in Ethiopia and requirements for the year 2002.


Harvest Prospects to be Favorable

Prospects for the main harvest at the end of the year are generally favorable after good rainfall in most of the cropping areas. However, low cereal prices in 2001 are expected to have limited the use of fertilizer and improved seeds. The rain forecast to the end of the year according to the Regional Drought Monitoring Centre (in Nairobi) would be: western parts - above-normal rainfall; central, southern and north-eastern parts - above normal to near-normal; central, eastern, south eastern and northern parts - near-normal to above normal; southern tip — below normal to near-normal. The areas of concern for the main harvest are central Tigray, lowland areas of Bale zone and lowland areas of East and West Hararghe zone, where rainfall appears to be insufficient.

FAO Organizes Workshop on Livestock Emergency Program

FAO has organized a workshop focusing on appropriate livestock related emergency interventions in drought situations for pastoral areas of Ethiopia from 30 October - 1 November 2001. The objectives of the workshop include identification of livestock related interventions such as preparedness, mitigation, recovery and rehabilitation activities. The workshop plans to develop a common understanding of the activities, describe the early warning requirements and preparation of implementation guidelines that would describe what information is required, potential components, organization and management issues, capacity etc. In addition, the workshop deals with identification of major issues related to short-term emergency responses and long-term recovery and rehabilitation that need to be addressed. How policy makers should take this up is also described as one of the most important components of the workshop. The workshop is funded by ECHO (The European Community Humanitarian Office) and OFDA (Office for Foreign Disaster Assistance).

Fertilizer Sale Decreases Due to Low Crop Prices

The 6th Annual National Fertilizer Workshop organized by the National Fertilizer Industry Agency (NFIA) was held in Addis Ababa from 9 to 11 October 2001, to review the performance of fertilizer marketing in the year 2001 and estimate the fertilizer requirement for the year 2002.

NFIA reports that a total of 273,461mts (176,043mts of DAP and 97,418mts of Urea) was sold in the year 2001. This represents 24,446mts less than the amount sold in 2000 (297,907mts) and represents 77 % of the 353,600mts targeted for the year. Fertilizer consumption has decreased this year as compared to the year 2000 in all high fertilizer consuming regions except Tigray. The decline is very sharp in SNNPR. This year's decrease in the fertilizer sale is mainly due to low crop prices. Many farmers were neither able to buy fertilizer nor to settle previous loans to be eligible for new fertilizer credits.

Taking into account fertilizer consumption in previous years, and considering an expanded national extension programme contributing to a wider use of fertilizer and other improved agricultural inputs and cultural practices, estimated demand for the year 2002 is expected to reach 440,000mts including 20% or 88,000mts of buffer stock for the next belg season.

Migratory Pests


Incidence of armyworm outbreak was first observed in Konso and Tsemay Bena weredas of SNNPR in mid April 2001. Thereafter, infested areas expanded and covered 1392 kebeles in 132 weredas of 33 zones in 9 regions. The total crop area infested was 89,473 hectares of which control operations undertaken by the Ministry of Agriculture were on 37,254 hectares of cropland. No significant crop damage was observed as a result of the infestation.

Quelea Birds

A report from the Ministry of Agriculture indicates infestation of quelea birds on cereal crops in nine localities, seven woredas in three regions, Somali, Oromia and SNNPR. Control operations have been carried out between 13 and 25 October using chemicals on 432 hectares with a population of about 14 million quelea birds in colonies and the result showed 99 percent kill. Control operation is continuing in North Shoa and Oromia Zones of Amhara Region.

Desert Locust

The country remained free of desert locust.

Sorghum Chaffer

Approximately 5,900 hectares of cropped fields were infested of which 4,000 hectares were treated using chemicals and cultural practices in September and October. However, infestation of sorghum chaffer has greatly reduced this year compared to previous years.


Food Requirements for IDPs Decreasing

Over 300,000 IDPs have been receiving food assistance and agencies are making efforts to support the transition from relief to recovery. Assessments are being undertaken to determine the number of people that will require food assistance beyond November and preliminary findings indicate that the requirements specific for IDPs will be substantially less. Many IDPs in the north (Ethiopians displaced by the Ethiopia-Eritrea border conflict) have been able to return to their areas of origin and a significant number have begun to rebuild their livelihoods.

Food Pipeline

There is grave concern about the lack of food aid currently available for victims of natural disaster. Food needs remain significant to the end of the year, especially in pastoral areas. Somali and Bale regions have been suffering from drought: the "gu" (main) rains earlier in the year were generally poor and the "deyr" (short) rains, expected to start in early October, are late in the southern part. Poor pasture and insufficient water supplies are severe in Afder, Liben and Warder zones. Many livestock from Somalia remain in parts of southern Ethiopia. 60 percent of Ethiopia’s food aid requirements for October to December is for the Somali Region. While food distributions in the region have been regular until September, stocks currently available to relief agencies can cover only a fraction of the needs to the end of the year. In the crop-dependent areas, food aid is currently being targeted at specific "pockets" in Tigray, Amhara, Oromia and SNNPR (Southern Nations Nationalities and People’s Region).

The food aid shortfall for October is 12,000mts and for the period from November to December the outstanding needs are over 30,000mts. The requirements are based on the normal ration size of 15 kg per-person-per-month but DPPC has already reduced the ration scale in an effort to cover as many of the targeted beneficiaries as possible. Contributions from donors are urgently required, noting that upon confirmation it is possible to release cereals immediately from Ethiopia’s Emergency Food Security Reserve (EFSR).


About 68% of the 62 million population of the Ethiopia are at risk to malaria infection. An average of about 400,000 to 600,000 people with positive blood films for malaria are treated every year.

According to 1997 mid-term review of the accelerated implementation of malaria control program in Oromia Region and SNNPR, clinical malaria accounted for between up to 40% of all out patient consultations with corresponding proportional morbidity among under five children being up to 20%. Malaria also accounted for up to 26% of all inpatient admissions in the various health facilities. Malaria remains a major cause of mortality with proportional mortality rates of up to 35% in the health facilities.

Fig. 1. Map showing the geographical distribution of malaria in Ethiopia

In Ethiopia, Malaria transmission is seasonal and largely unstable. The major transmission of malaria follows the June to September rains and occurs between September and December in many parts of the country. The minor transmission season is between April and May and is limited to few areas that receive the small so-called belg rains. The seasonal nature of transmission coincides with major harvesting season causing economic loss and confirms little or no immunity.


Parasite Species

Plasmodium falciparum and P.vivax are the dominant malaria parasites in Ethiopia, accounting for 60% and 40% of malaria cases respectively.

The occurrence and distribution of drug resistant parasites, and in few areas insecticide-resistant vectors, pose threat to the malaria control program in the country.

In most areas, the main vector is susceptible to DDT, an insecticide of choice for residual house spraying in Ethiopia. In areas where resistance to DDT is detected, Malathion is used. Up to now, the major control measure used in the country has been indoor residual spraying. Insecticide Treated Nets (ITNs) have been introduced in selected areas of Tigray, Amhara, Oromia and SNNPR. A comprehensive strategy on expanding coverage of ITNs involving multiple partners including the private sector will be developed in early 2002 with support from UNICEF and the Malaria Consortium, with a view to rapidly expanding the coverage of ITNs in all malarious areas. The strategy will include provisions for those who cannot afford to buy a net.

Malaria Epidemics

Malaria transmission in Ethiopia occurs primarily in epidemic forms. Perennial transmission persists only in few areas. However, in areas where microclimate and local physical characteristics are conducive to the breeding and survival of mosquitoes and favorable for the parasite development, transmission may occur even in higher altitude, sometimes up to 2,400 meters. Generally, highland-fringe areas between 1,000 and 2,000 meters are highly epidemic-prone.

In 2000 malaria outbreaks occurred in Jimma and West Shewa affecting 12,715 and 37,137 people respectively, and has been resulting in high mortality in both areas. However, no serious epidemic report this year (2001).

Some of the main factors that believed to have contributed to the occurrence of malaria epidemics are (1)population movements from non-infected to infected malaria areas because of increased development and commercial activities, (2)climate changes, i.e. increased temperature, intermittent rains, flooding etc., (3)inadequate surveillance system for predictions and monitoring of epidemics, (4)seasonal migration of laborers from non-infected to infected malaria areas, increased traditional irrigation practices, (5)low community awareness to participate in prevention and control of malaria and (6)increased construction of micro-dams and irrigation schemes.

Status of community-based Interventions

Reaching the undetached population living in malaria-infected areas and strengthening and expanding functional community based services are essential components for reducing morbidity and mortality. This has proved effective in Tigray, Amhara, Oromia and SNNPR.

Currently, a community health worker at a village level treats about 170 malaria patients every month, of which 22% are children under five. Along with expanding village-based interventions, studies indicate that major reduction could be achieved in endemic malaria areas by training local health workers to teach mothers how to recognize malaria symptoms in their children and how to use malaria drugs.

Progress on roll-back malaria program (RBM)

Based on the comments from the roll-back malaria conference held in March 2000, Federal and Regional level plans of action for malaria control in Ethiopia were revised, developed and distributed to major partners for funding.

RBM inception meetings at regional and district levels are currently underway.

International training on RBM for participants of 17 African countries including Ethiopia was successfully conducted, while training of RBM diseases management, epidemic preparedness, vector control, and microscopic studies were conducted for health workers of primary health care units. Training on GIS/Health mapped in collaboration with RBM head quarter was given to participants of federal and regional levels.

A national workshop on Ethiopia’s five-year (2001-2005) malaria control strategic plan was conducted where 57 RBM professionals effectively dealt with the draft plan of action.

The major constraints identified to malaria control are: low health service coverage and poor infrastructure; shortage of trained personnel, logistics such as vehicles, of vector control supplies such as spray pumps, of anti-malaria drugs, insecticide, laboratory equipment and diagnostic facilities. A major impediment expanding ITN coverage is the high taxation levied on imported nets, which affects both the government and the private sector. Furthermore, the surveillance and management information system is insufficient.

Major challenges in executing malaria control activities include: (1)extensive pre-service and in-service training on malaria with emphasis on vector control; (2)development of drug resistance especially SP which has short lifetime of use; (3)initiation of RBM strategies as a core for implementation at all levels of health care delivery system; (4)development of effective methods for good targeting of localities for spraying; (5)finding alternative strategies for protection of pregnant mothers against malaria infection; (6)advocacy and sensitization for proper implementation of ITNs in communities at risk to malaria, including removal of taxes on ITNs.

Different organizations committed themselves for the year 2001 to the malaria control effort - WHO committed US$ 400,000 while UNICEF committed to support capacity building of health workers on IMCI (Integrated Management of Childhood Illness) malaria in pregnancy procurement of essential drugs, lab equipment, ITNs, and support to IEC (Information, Education and Communication) materials worth of US$1.7 million. Moreover, USAID pledged to support malaria and Tuberculosis activities in training monitoring and evaluation of malaria control program, operational researches, and epidemic control. Irish Aid also expressed its willingness to participate in epidemic and vector control, procurement of ITNs, and training of primary health workers.

In October 2001 the RBM partners and regional health bureaux gathered again to develop an implementation plan for the RBM interventions outlined in the Five-Year Strategic Plan. Pledges for support for 2002 were also made ($1.5 million for 2002 from WHO, $2 million/year for the next five years from UNICEF, $0.5 million for 2002 from USAID, around $0.5 million from Ireland Aid and $10 million from the World Bank as part of the existing credit for the Health Sector Development Programme. With these pledges and support from possible new donors and partners, there is optimism that the implementation of Ethiopia's RBM plan will enable coverage of key interventions such as provision of treatment services and ITNs to be expanded and the burden of malaria in the country reduced.