United Nations Country Team Support Office, Awassa
Phone: 06-20 70 64/5 Fax: 06-20 70 63
Bi-monthly Situation Update SNNPR –
Feb. 16 - 29, 2004
· Nutrition/TFC’s: UNICEF verification mission follow up reports of increased malnutrition levels in Guraghe; Action Contre la Faim closes its SNNPR programme; higher rates of admission in Karat and Taza TFC’s
· Resettlements: resumed mid-February
· Rainfalls/crops: ceasing rains cause concern about crops in some areas
· Security incident: one person shot dead in Konso Special Woreda
· UN visits to SNNPR: the UNCT had a visit by the Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, Mr. Jean Ziegler; UNICEF multi-sectoral resettlement needs- assessment
· UN-OCHA / UNCT-SO Awassa: staff number is decreased as part of the restructuring process
As reported in the last Situation Update, a UNICEF field monitor in the second week of February informed of radical increases in malnutrition levels in Mareko and Meskan woredas, Guraghe Zone. According to the report increased malnutrition levels, related to the closure of blanket feeding programmes in October 2003, had resulted in a number of children dying. A UNICEF verification mission was undertaken, revealing that the number of deaths was five and probably due to malnutrition, possibly compounded by malaria and waterborne diseases.
Project Mercy (PM) is currently the only NGO implementing feeding programmes in the two woredas. However, their nutritional screenings need to be improved and the wet type of feeding implemented is inappropriate for chronically food insecure circumstances.
In a response to the reports, a meeting was held February 26 between OFDA, SC (US), PM, the Regional Health Bureau and UNICEF. Recommendations in order to prevent further increase in malnutrition levels were that PM convert their wet feeding centres into the more appropriate targeted dry supplementary feeding; that screening the target populations of affected woredas for possible referral to feeding programmes be undertaken; that PM integrate its Therapeutic Feeding Centre, Yetabon TFC, into Butajira Hospital; and that Governmental general food distribution is initiated.
Action Contre la Faim (ACF) handed over its last remaining, Leku TFC, on February 16. It was integrated with the nutrition unit at the health centre, which now manages 10 children suffering from severe malnutrition. Health centre staff were trained during the integration by ACF which also handed over all materials, drugs and therapy products to the facility as per Health and Nutrition Task Force guidelines.
ACF closed the Awassa sub-office Feb 27, thereby in effect wrapping up its SNNPR- programme.
The Taza Nutritional Referral Unit (NRU) in Kedida-Gamela woreda, Kembata Tembaro Zone, is part of the Catholic Sisters Health centre. During the two last weeks of February it has had a drastic increase in the number of children; from 25 patients in mid-February, in now serves 56 severely malnourished children. Although 16 of them were from within the woreda, the children mainly came from other woredas: 23 from Alaba Special Woreda, 14 from Badawocho and three from Shashego woreda, Hadiya Zone. SC (US) held a 12-day training for Taza NRU staff in OTP, Targeted supplementary feeding and NRU management. The Catholic Sisters are planning to launch a supplementary feeding programme in the area. SC (US) report that the construction of a TFC has been initiated.
Karat TFC in Konso Special Woreda has also experienced increased rates of admission in February, as severely malnourished children were identified during an SC (US) outreach screening for a supplementary feeding programme. On February 19, the number of children in the TFC was 75; SC (US) are continuing the supplementary feeding programme in ten distribution sites, from which 2 500 under 5’s and lactating / pregnant women are benefiting.
After the erratic but predominantly heavy rains which fell over the greater part of the region during the past two months, the last half February has been mainly dry. While Belg-rains normally occur at the end of February, many farmers took advantage of these early rains by preparing their lands for sowing. Problems may arise for those farmers who actually did sow; if there are no more rainfalls in the first weeks of March, their seedlings will die. This would most likely have detrimental effects on nutritional status among these communities and may affect the Regional Governments’ policy of “decreasing dependency” (based on which it has slashed the number of people in need of food assistance or close monitoring by half).
UNICEF Field Monitors report that resettlements were resumed in mid-February, after a weeks’ break to prepare the receiving sites.
Dawro Zone received 444 Heads of Households and seven “dependants” (women and children) from drought affected and food insecure areas in Hadiya Zone on February 18. They were accompanied by three development agents and one health professional.
OCHA has received reports of unrest in Konso Special Woreda. There has been fighting over land between two local groups, which resulted in one person being shot dead and the military police being called in to stabilise the situation. Meanwhile, UN security advises against travelling to Konso SW.
On February 19-22, the SNNPR UNCT had a visit by the Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, Mr. Jean Ziegler with team. They were shown a SC (US) run Therapeutic Feeding Centre and a GOAL implemented School Feeding Programme, both in Sidama Zone. They also visited a BoA / WFP food for work (MERET/EGS) project in Wolayta Zone. While the team chose not to visit a resettlement site, as was scheduled, they did receive briefings on the resettlement programme.
UNICEF had a visit February 23-27 from a ‘multi-sectoral resettlement needs-assessment team’. The aim of the assessment is to come up with a consistent UNICEF position on the resettlement programme.
The staff number in the UN-OCHA / UN Country Team Support Office (UNCT-SO) in Awassa was decreased during the reporting period, as the UN-OCHA Field coordinator and National officer finished their contracts. This first part of the UNCT-SO restructuring process leaves the Support Office currently constituting of the UN-OCHA Information officer and the UNDP National admin. officer.
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