UNDP-EUE: Update on the Current Humanitarian Situation in Ethiopia, 06/00

UNDP-EUE: Update on the Current Humanitarian Situation in Ethiopia

30 June 2000


Special Immunization Campaign

The Ethiopian Ministry of Health, with direct support from UNICEF and WHO has begun a major measles and vitamin A campaign in the drought-affected areas of the country. The emergency intervention targets a total of 2.6 million children in 15 zones in four drought-affected regions (SNNPR, Somali, Oromiya and Amhara). Along with the measles vaccination children are given vitamin A, a micronutrient, which, according to health experts, reduces the risk of septemic complications and blindness in malnourished children affected by measles and is lacking children’s diets throughout Ethiopia. The three-week vaccination campaign started 23 June in south Ethiopia.

UNICEF has provided organizational and coordination support and has been the main source of funding of the campaign while WHO has provided important technical assistance. Preparations have included training, procurement of essential vaccines, needles, syringes and cold chain equipment and the provision of operational costs. Social mobilization in support of the campaign has included a special focus on radio spots in the 12 languages broadcast in Radio Ethiopia, Radio Fana and in the BBC Somali language service.

Children, whose physical condition has been weakened due to malnutrition or lack of food, are particularly prone to high morbidity and mortality due to measles infections. The vaccination campaign aims to avert the risk of the outbreak of measles epidemics; according to WHO previous major outbreaks of the disease in Ethiopia have killed up to 20 % of the infected.

Planning for the campaign has required staff to travel to remote or nearly inaccessible areas with the vaccines, which need to be kept cold. Thus functioning fridges had to be positioned in all the areas to be covered. In some cases this meant that they had to be carried by a team of porters for up to three days. The current measles vaccination campaign with its focus on drought affected areas supplements the Ethiopian government’s three year accelerated measles program, which has seen almost all children in more accessible areas vaccinated over the last two years.

In their ongoing Horn of Africa initiative WHO have conducted a meeting in Gondar with the aim of strengthening cross border activities in the health sector between Ethiopia and Sudan. Issues discussed included enhanced collaboration, improved epidemic surveillance and responses between the two countries and on agreement to jointly work towards polio eradication.


Internally Displaced Peoples

The recently signed peace agreement between Ethiopia and Eritrea will facilitate the return of many of the displaced people to their home areas. Although the Ethiopian Government and humanitarian partners involved are anxious to support a return to normalcy in the border areas, the rehabilitation and recovery process will take time, especially as landmines and unexploded ordnance remain a dangerous threat and would place limitations on the return and rehabilitation process. As the rainy season has just begun in the northern parts of Tigray, it is particularly important that agriculture intervention programs are implemented as soon as possible, but other recovery measures including health, education, water and shelter should be taken into consideration. In order to assess actual requirements together with the local authorities and give timely support, a UN inter-agency technical mission is currently in Tigray The joint UN team will determine humanitarian assistance required by the IDPs in their area of origin and identify opportunities for rehabilitation and reconstruction with a special focus on agricultural interventions to support farmers.


Weather, Livestock and Agriculture

Although rains of the meher season have begun in most parts of the country, forecasts for the southern parts of the country, and thus the regions most affected by drought, appear not to be overly promising. According to situation reports obtained by the Ogaden Welfare Society (OWS), an NGO active in Somali region, the rainfall in the Somali region has differed considerably from area to area. While rains have been sufficient around Gode and in Korahe to rehabilitate pastures and fill up ponds, rainfall around Kebre Dehar and in Warder zone is reported to have been erratic and insufficient, while the Shinille area has reportedly received no rains at all.

FAO remains concerned about the livestock situation of pastoralists, especially in the Somali region. In order to get a comprehensive picture of the situation of livestock under the current emergency situation, FAO has hired a livestock expert. He will compile a plan of support interventions, after having assessed the increased numbers of livestock deaths following the belated rains in May, and after having gained a comprehensive picture of current patterns of pastoralists’ movements in the border regions of Somalia, Kenya and Ethiopia. This will enable experts to identify disease transmittance patterns and to take action.

Many farmers in drought-affected regions have prepared their fields for the meher season but now lack seeds for planting. Agricultural experts from FAO say that although it is too late to plant maize and other grains in some drought affected areas, a small window of opportunity remains to plant certain types of wheat crops. They also say there is still ample time to plant vegetables and root crops, for which contributions are required urgently. Farmers have neither the seeds to plant, nor the cash to buy seeds from local markets.

In response to the FAO component of the UN Country Team appeal, the National Seed Industry Agency (NSIA), a parastatal organization in the country responsible for seeds is proceeding with the purchase of seeds using funds from IDA Seed Systems Development Project. So far, 20,038 quintals of improved wheat varieties have been purchased from the Ethiopian Seed Enterprise for distribution to farmers in drought prone areas. The agency is also in the process of purchasing an additional 1,400 quintals for distribution in drought prone areas in the SNNP.

According to as yet unconfirmed reports, the food security situation in Bale zone is an issue of major concern, and might be worse than in Borena zone in early April. Among others, an expert from the British donor organization DFID (Department for International Development) is currently assessing the situation there in order to plan effective interventions.


Update from the World Food Programme (WFP)

1. IDPs in Tigray/displaced by Ethiopia-Eritrea border conflict


2. Somali Region


3. Logistics


For more information please contact any of the following members of the UN Country Team:

(All numbers prefixed with +251 1, if calling from outside Ethiopia)

UN Emergencies Unit for Ethiopia, Caroline Stiebler: 51-37-25 (fax: 51-12-92)

Office of the UN Resident Coordinator: 51-10-25 (fax: 51-51-47)

Office of the UN Regional Humanitarian Coordinator, Rosa Malango: 44 44 00 (fax: 51-12-92)

World Food Programme, Amy Horton: 51-51-88 (fax: 51-44-33)

UNICEF, Venus Easwaran: 51-51-55 (fax: 51-16-28)

WHO: 51-40-31 (fax: 53-15-50)

FAO: 51-72-33 (fax: 51-52-66)

UNHCR: 61-28-22 (fax: 61-16-66)

UNDP: 51-51-77 (fax: 51-45-99)

UNFPA: 51-19-80 (fax: 51-53-11)

IOM: 51-16-73 (fax: 51-49-00)

UNESCO: 51-39-53 (fax: 51-14-14)

UNIDO: 51-51-77 (fax: 51-27-33)

World Bank: 51-42-00 (fax: 51-14-41)

IMF: 51-14-11 (fax: 51-11-18)

ILO: 51-43-13 (fax: 51-45-99)



The designations employed and the presentation of material in this document do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever of the UN concerning the legal status of any country, territory, city or area of its authorities, or concerning the delimitation of its frontiers or boundaries.

June 2000

UN Emergencies Unit for Ethiopia Tel.: (251) (1) 51-10-28/29

PO Box 60252 Fax: (251) (1) 51-12-92

Addis Ababa E-mail: