RELIEF BULLETIN: Weekly Humanitarian Highlights in Ethiopia, 23, May 2003 

Coordinated response to flood affected

The jointly coordinated government/ICRC/UN/NGO relief operations for flood victims are expanding as more areas are now accessible by road in the parts of Gode zone in Somali Region hit by floods in mid-April. An ICRC team was able to reach East and West Imi by road through Fik zone on 17 May and reports that the situation there is very serious. People in the area had been caught by surprise by the floods a month ago, which came at night with no warning, whereas people further down-river had more time to move to higher ground. The flood-displaced population in East and West Imi thus lost all their household assets and food and have been living in the open with no shelter for several weeks. ICRC now plans to shift their focus of their emergency assistance interventions to West/East Imi districts as the situation in Mustahil and Kelafo woredas has begun to stabilize with delivery of non-food items and high-energy biscuits from ICRC, UNICEF and government to these locations by road and by helicopter. ICRC has made available enough cereals, pulses and cooking oil to cover 8,000 people for one month in Mustahil and Kelafo districts. The same food items will be provided by ICRC for 19,000 people for one month in West and East Imi. Current estimates by the Gode zonal officials of the total flood-affected population is 90,000 people, of whom some 70,000 will need food aid, though figures may be adjusted as more areas are assessed. Further food supplies are being moved to the area and seed distributions are also planned. Medical and sanitation needs remain high, and the main health concerns remain malaria, diarrhea and upper respiratory infections.

Severe malnutrition, deaths in SNNPR

A follow up UN-OCHA-EUE mission to Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples Region (SNNPR) and reports from other sources confirmed that malnutrition is still a very serious problem mainly in Sidama and Welayta zones, where hundreds of children had to be admitted to eight hurriedly set up Therapeutic Feeding Centres (TFCs) that are managed by NGOs. Further TFCs are planned to accommodate the steady inflow of malnourished patients. While most children recover with appropriate care, some died because of late admission. Malaria combined with malnutrition led to many deaths in Offa woreda of Welayta zone, a particular food deficit hotspot, that needs quick intervention. Additionally in response to the serious situation in SNNPR, WFP is increasing its monitoring capacity in the region, with additional staff deployed from other parts of the country for the coming weeks. Several recent high-level UN visits have been made to the region, which is also receiving increased media attention due to high malnutrition rates. Action has been taken by the government and NGOs with UNICEF assistance to open more therapeutic and supplementary feeding centres in the worst affected areas. WFP is making available blended food on a loan basis to MSF-Switzerland to support their therapeutic and supplementary feeding programme in Damot Gale district of Wolayita zone, where global acute malnutrition level (GAM) reached 27.1 percent in early April. Since that time, additional food has been dispatched to this and other areas of concern in SNNPR by the Disaster Prevention and Preparedness Commission (DPPC).

People needing Emergency water increases from 2.7 to 4.2 million

A recent Emergency Water Supply need survey by UNICEF, in cooperation with Ministry of Water Resources and Regional Water Resources Bureaux, in the 6 Regions most affected by drought, has revised the figures of people in need of emergency water supply as of end of April, from the originally estimated 2.7 million to 4,241,447. 381,942 of these people were earmarked for emergency water tankering, of which 120,979 (i.e. 32%) have been served by UNICEF funded tankering during the period January-May. During the same period, the rehabilitation of 466 existing water schemes, by UNICEF with its local partners, has benefited 948,700 more people, while UNICEF drilling of a total of 219 new schemes has benefited 292,240 people who did not previously receive any clean water. The total figure of people reached by the UNICEF Emergency Water supply in 2003 is therefore 1,341,919, i.e. 32% of the 4.2 million currently in critical need.


Catholic Relief Services (CRS) has initiated a new approach: “Seed Fair & Coupons” approach to address the seed problem in the country. The approach is a free distribution of seeds using seed coupons in a seed fair setting. Over 50 seed fairs will be conducted in 12 Woredas. In each seed fair, approximately 300 hundred beneficiaries participate with at least enough registered seed sellers to supply each farmer an average of 20 kg of preferred seed. Generally, the seed fair and coupon approach is a combination of financial and social capital with coupons denominated in local currency, redeemable by the issuing agency for the face value. Coupons have restricted fungibility and are date and area bound. To date CRS and its partners have conducted 29 seed fairs, benefiting over 9,878 households with a total of 124 MT of seed distribution through Seed Fairs. CRS and its implementing partners hope to continue this approach up to the distribution of preferred seeds for the upcoming meher planting season. CRS is working with three implementing partners: Lutheran World Federation, Ethiopian Orthodox Church, and the Ethiopian Catholic Church- Social Development and Coordination Office. The program is funded by a USAID Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance grant.

For more Information Contact the UN Emergencies Unit for Ethiopia 444414