Emergencies Unit for Ethiopia

MAY 1996 
Prepared by the Information Section of the UNDP Emergencies Unit from information provided by UN and NGOs

Table of contents


Relief needs and operations

Earlier reports that belg rains have been abundant and well distributed in practically all belg-producing areas in the north-eastern highland, have been confirmed by a recent mission to these traditionally vulnerable and food deficit areas of the country.(1)

The mission, which travelled to North Shewa, North Welo and South Welo zones of the Amhara Region to assess the progress of the belg (short) season, also reviewed accessibility and food pre-positioning needs in some of the most food insecure weredas of northern Ethiopia.

Although the mission did not visit the southern belg-producing areas of the country, reports have also indicated good rains in Bale and Arsi, East and West Hararghe zones (Oromiya Region). Therefore, it is reasonable to assume that the 1996 belg harvest may exceed the 1995 short season that was estimated at about 395,000 tons. This would mean that the current belg harvest would show a considerable increase from the December 1995 FAO/WFP Crop and Food Aid Needs Assessment mission's projection of 335,000 tons for the 1996 belg season.

The main issue of concern at the present time is the fulfilment of relief requirements of the Disaster Prevention and Preparedness Commission, DPPC (formerly the CDPP) and the timely pre-positioning of food before the main (kiremt) rains make roads inaccessible in July.

Although food is being pre-positioned in many weredas that will become difficult to reach, the quantities appear small and it is unclear to wereda officials how much food will be dispatched, and when. The general situation in these areas will therefore need to be closely monitored in the coming months to ensure that adequate assistance is provided to the food insecure who have limited access to food sources. END


Progress of the 1996 appeal

On 29 May, the DPPC called a meeting of donors and international partners to review the status of the 1996 appeal, update donors on what has so far been achieved by the Commission, and share information regarding pledges (food aid and non-food assistance) and shortfalls. Also reviewed at the meeting was the current status of the capacity building component of the appeal, on which special emphasis was placed (refer to Annex I for a breakdown on capacity building requirements and commitments).

The DPPC also informed the meeting that a team comprised of representatives of the donor community, U.N., NGOs and the DPPC has been established to assess the possibility of bringing together existing resources to implement pilot Employment Generation Schemes (EGS) in specific target areas in order to ensure the utmost effectiveness and impact of such activities.

The donor community were generally positive about the meeting. However, several outstanding issues of concern were mentioned by participating donors, including the realisation of a food security strategy; standardisation of EGS; privatisation of NGO trucks; monetisation of commodities; and the new mechanism of NGO registration.

IGAD meetings(2)

A technical meeting of the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) is scheduled to take place 10-14 June in Addis Ababa. This meeting will be followed by consultations with the international community on 15 June. Prior to the June consultations, a briefing session was organised in Addis Ababa on 28 May, during which Dr. Tekeste Gebray, the new Executive Secretary of IGAD, met with members of the informal donor ambassador group in Addis Ababa to review the revitalisation process.

ICRC/OAU Conference on water in conflict situations

A two-day seminar for the ambassadors accredited to the OAU and the donor community took place in Addis Ababa 2-3 May, under the general theme of "water and conflict. One of the main objectives of the conference was to sensitise African ambassadors on "the danger of water-borne conflicts". Themes relating to international humanitarian law and anti-personnel landmines were also discussed in addition to the issue of water and armed conflicts. This seminar was the third in a series jointly organised by the International Committee for Red Cross (ICRC) and the Organisation for African Unity (OAU). END


Belg harvest prospects

In many parts of North Shewa, North Welo and South Welo farmers had planted their belg crops already in December and January to take advantage of the early rainfall. These crops have generally fared well, in spite of a dry period in February, and will be ready for harvesting in June. The belg rains have also been beneficial for preparation of land for the planting of long cycle crops. In many places the areas planted with belg crops has increased considerably from 1995 and, as the rains are reported to be better than in many years, a very good belg harvest can be expected in North Shewa, North Welo and South Welo. The same situation could be expected in the southern belg-producing areas of Ethiopia.

Nevertheless, farmers and staff of the Bureaux of Agriculture have expressed concern over too much rainfall in some weredas where excessive rains have already seriously damaged standing crops. If the belg rains continue without the usual dry spell before the main rainy season in June, some standing crops, especially teff, will be affected and planting for the main (meher) season may be delayed. The abundant belg rains have, however, contributed to good pasture conditions, and livestock also seem to be in a generally healthy state in belg areas.

Armyworm outbreak

NOTE: Armyworm, which is a seasonal migratory pest, is occasionally found in high densities damaging large areas of crops and rangeland grasses. The last major armyworm infestation recorded in Ethiopia occurred in 1994, when nearly a million hectares of crop and grassland was affected following a northward belt in the country.

During the normal monitoring of crop pest situations in the country by UNDP-EUE, it has been gathered that armyworm outbreaks, first detected at the end of April in Borena and East Hararghe zones (Oromiya Region) and Konso special wereda (Southern Nations Nationalities Peoples Regional State), have reached serious levels in Jigjiga (Somali Region), Dire Dawa, East Hararghe and Bale (Oromiya Region). In addition, large numbers of trapped moths were reported in May across the entire southern belt.

As of 23 May, over 15,000 hectares were reported to have been affected. Pesticide stocks appear to be sufficient to meet the current outbreak, and 9,700 litres have already been dispatched to the zones in Oromiya Region to commence spraying operations. The extent of the outbreaks in pastoral areas of the Somali Region are unknown and will be a determining factor on how future migrations occur. The following provides a breakdown of outbreak data so far reported by local authorities:

East Hararghe
8,186 hectares of cropland affected in 6 weredas
1,470 litres of pesticide available, 243 hectares sprayed

5,804 hectares of cropland and 9,916 hectares of rangeland affected in 8 weredas
4,460 litres of pesticide available, 5,755 hectares sprayed

2,070 hectares of cropland affected
1,860 litres dispatched, 2,070 hectares sprayed

West Hararghe
194 hectares of cropland affected, non sprayed
1,940 litres of pesticide dispatched

Dire Dawa
5,000 hectares of cropland affected

Widespread and serious infestations but scouting and spraying are hampered by a shortage of vehicles. 10,000 litres of pesticide available

Some affected areas are receiving heavy rainfall which should suppress larval development. However, the ensuing green vegetation and farmers' crops could result in secondary outbreaks in the same sites or further outbreaks in the north of existing ones, depending on the extent of larval development and successful pupation at currently affected areas. Since "currently affected areas" include unknown hectares in the Somali Region, 10,000 unsprayed hectares in Bale and 5,000 in Dire Dawa, the potential for future outbreaks could be large and devastating without sufficient chemicals for control. The normal expectation is for rains to stop in June (between the belg and meher seasons), which could contribute to development of further outbreaks especially in the northern regions.

Fertiliser situation

Fertiliser utilisation is an important contributing factor to attaining food security in Ethiopia. Although the use of fertiliser, pesticides and improved seed varieties is increasing in the country, it is still less than recommended and has traditionally only been used in the surplus-producing areas of Gojjam, Arsi and Bale. In the northern regions, the use of agricultural inputs has been limited due to poor availability, late delivery and high cost of inputs. The exception seems to be areas where operating NGOs have provided various inputs through their projects.(3)

As at the end of May, fertiliser pledges for the 1996 cropping season stand at tons 374,443 tons with the following breakdown:

International Development Bank (IDA), 50,000 tons; Government (including the National Bank of Ethiopia) 100,000 tons; Government of Germany 52,669 tons; Government of the Netherlands 32,400 tons; European Union 50,000 tons; Government of Japan 25,374 tons; Government of Italy 37,000 tons; and Government of Sweden 27,000 tons. Of this total amount 256,069 tons has so far been delivered, with a balance of 118,374 expected in June.(4)

As at 29 May, fertiliser availability for the 1996 agricultural seasons amounts to a total 403,000 tons including 60,000 tons in carry over. A distribution plan has been made by the Government for 393,000 tons. The flow of sales information from distribution sites has, however, been slow and only a limited number of sales centres have so far reported. In addition, the 1996 Fertiliser Credit Plan for the peasant sector has been estimated at birr 400 million (approximately $63.3 million), to be handled by the Commercial Bank of Ethiopia (CBE) and the National Bank of Ethiopia (NBE). Several factors have affected fertiliser use in 1996:

1. Since belg rainfall enabled early cultivation and planting, fertiliser supplies in many areas arrived after planting.

2. Last minute problems developing with private dealers over fertiliser cost mark-up allowances for expenses at distant distribution points resulted in some tenders being abandoned.

3. Fertiliser use was expected to increase to 380,000 tons with credit facilitated and guaranteed through regional agricultural bureauz, but prices have remained slightly high at birr 200 (approximately $32) for DAP and bir 190 (approximately $30) for Urea. END


The following outlines the general situation in two border regions visited by EUE staff during the month of May:

South Omo zone and Konso wereda

Heavy rainfall at the end of the rainy season in South Omo (February - June) shortened the duration of the field trip. Nevertheless, the mission were able to meet with the respective zonal and wereda authorities of South Omo and Jinka and discuss the current situation. In general, it was assessed that although the information obtained could not regarded as comprehensive, favourable rains throughout May have resulted in the expectation of a good harvest in August and September.

Zone 2 of Afar Region

An EUE mission visited Zone 2 of Afar Region in May. Zone 2 is an area that is inaccessible at best, and several months ago reported drought and food shortages. The mission travelled throughout much of the zone, meeting and speaking with local leaders and communities in the area. The following were observed by the mission to be among the main issues of concern: the zone has not seen any form of development in decades; there is no infrastructure; the level of education is extremely low; economic stress has resulted in the trading of livestock for cereals at very unfavourable rates; health facilities and services are nearly non-existent; and local inhabitants have limited access to markets. END


Food aid status

Pledges against a total 1996 relief and regular food aid requirement of 135,000 tons of cereals and pulses now amount to 149,601 tons. This means that pledges exceed estimated relief and regular requirements by 14,601 tons. However, this figure assumes the full availability of 1995 carry over stocks and relies on a normal belg harvest. Should part of the carry over pledges not be realised, or, if the belg fails, relief and regular requirements would be likely to increase.

Pledges against the 100,000 tons 1996 appeal requirement for the Emergency Food Security Reserve amount to 95,750 tons. Available stocks stand at 85,353 tons and outstanding loans amount to 126,139 tons.

There has also been some discussion between the Government, WFP and NGOs regarding the 1996 relief plan presented by the Government. Following these consultations, the Government figure, which initially showed a gap of 77,000 tons, has been revised to 29,000 tons.

The outstanding issue of vegetable oil imports continues to be discussed. Although no official information has been received, WFP are optimistic that the 4,500 tons of oil currently in Assab and Djibouti would be soon allowed into the country.

Deliveries and distribution

So far, 56,925 tons of the 1996 pledges for cereals and pulses have been delivered at Assab, Massawa and Djibouti ports.

Between January and April 1996, the Disaster Prevention and Preparedness Commission, DPPC and NGOs have distributed about 65,000 tons of food to the most insecure population groups.

1996 local purchase programme

In late May, the DPPC informed the European Union and WFP that the Government prefers to substitute further local purchases with wheat imports. The main reason for this decision is the concern in some government circles that continued large scale local purchases could affect the market and lead to increases in consumer prices. In light of this policy shift, it now seems that the second phase of the local purchase programme (the first phase consists of EU/Euronaid purchase of about 100,000 tons currently under delivery) may be postponed until the next harvest from September/October onwards, provided that the harvest is satisfactory.

According to WFP, the second phase of the local purchases could consist of at least 45,610 tons of grain for WFP assisted projects and 32,356 tons of grain for NGOs through Euronaid. Prior to this, however, the Local Purchase Steering Committee has agreed that smaller purchases amounting to some 23,000 tons (11,000 tons to be purchased by WFP for its refugee programme, 7,000 tons by the Relief Society of Tigray and 5,000 tons by the European Union representing the balance from phase one) can be undertaken between now and the next harvest.

So far, of the 72,000 tons (two lots consisting of 51,000 and 21,000 tons) tendered for the EFSR during the first phase of the local purchases, approximately 3,500 tons have been delivered to the EFSR warehouse in Kombolcha. The European Union has indicated that by the end of June deliveries are likely to reach at least 40,000 tons.


Privatisation of the NGO fleet is progressing. The joint committee set up for this purpose has identified the NGOs falling in the current phase of the privatisation programme. The first phase of privatisation includes the Norwegian Church Aid (NCA), Lutheran World Federation (LWF), Catholic Relief Development Agency (CRDA), and World Vision. NCA trucks are expected to be privatised within the first half of 1996.

The Government had initially scheduled the first sales for 5 June; this date has since been revised in order to allow the CDPP to make arrangements with the customs authorities regarding duty clearance. Planned for the second phase of this programme are CARE, Menchen fur Menchen (MFM), Catholic Relief Services (CRS), Food for Hungry International (FHI) and Redd Barna.

The Government's three Relief Transport Projects (RTPs) are also in the process of privatisation, after some delay and discussions regarding the modalities involved. About 179 RTP trucks have been earmarked for transfer/privatisation. END



A team of EUE field officers visiting South Omo zone (SNNPRS) in mid-May were informed of a recent outbreak of meningitis in the lowland weredas of the zone, affecting about 26 people. According to reports, efforts of the zonal health officials in controlling the spread of the disease have been expedited by heavy rains in the areas.

In East Hararghe zone of Oromiya Region and Dire Dawa, a recent report issued by the CRS Vulnerability Early Warning System (VEWS) indicates good health conditions in Fedis, Goroguttu, Jarso, Kombolcha and Meta weredas, where no epidemic diseases have been observed. The exception is Kufa kebele in Fedis wereda, which has reported poor health conditions and fatality, and Jarso wereda, where localised health problems such pneumonia have been observed.

Availability of supplies of vaccines seems to be good in Addis Ababa. An issue of concern, however, is that supplies, which may be close to expiry, have not yet been dispatched to the regions.

Nutritional status

The nutritional status has remained stable in Welayita area of North Omo zone (SNNPRS). A recent nutritional survey by the SCF (UK) Nutritional Surveillance Programme (NSP) has indicated that although small declines have been recorded in the eastern highlands and western lowlands of Welayita, they were not significant and the situation is satisfactory.

Another survey carried out by SCF-NSP in Wag Hamra and North Welo zones (Amhara Region) also shows a satisfactory nutritional level. In Lasta wereda of North Welo, however, the situation continues to be worrying as the nutritional status remains close to the 90% weight for length (WFL) cut-off as defined by the CDPP.

The non-food component of the 1996 appeal

Donor response to the non-food component of the 1996 Government appeal has so far been relatively poor. Of a total requirement of $4,656,091 for health, nutrition, water and sanitation, shelter and logistics and education projects, so far a total of $536,552 has been obtained from the Government of Italy for development of water projects, while $500,000 has been pledged by the Government of Norway through the Norwegian Agency for Development (NORAD) to be evenly distributed in the non-food sectors. This leaves a requirement shortfall of $3,619,539 with the following breakdown: health ($1,510,400); nutrition ($695,500); water and sanitation ($1,166,748); shelter and logistics ($175,870); and education ($71,021). END


Refugee statistics

The number of Sudanese refugees assisted in the three settlement sites in western Ethiopia reached 63,633 with the following breakdown: Bonga 16,287; Fugnido 35,940; and Dimma 11,406.

The total assisted Somali population in the eight camps in eastern Ethiopia reached 275,384 with the following breakdown: Hartisheik 58,695; Kebribeyah 10,238; Darwanaji 43,006; Teferiber 46,379; Camaboker 31,932; Rabasso 24,865; Daror 44,987; and Aisha 15,282.

The number of Kenyan refugees stands at 23,670, with the following breakdown: Dolo 15,000; and Moyale 8,670. The total number of Afar refugees being assisted remains unchanged at 18,000. In addition there are currently 697 registered urban refugees in Addis Ababa. This brings the total number of refugees in Ethiopia to 381,384.

Refugee situation in brief

The main part of the joint UNHCR/WFP mission to visit refugee camps in Ethiopia has been rescheduled to take place 5-17 June 1996. The mission will review the overall socio-economic and food supply situation of the refugee population in Ethiopia. This will help to determine the level of assistance and food rations for the continuation of the refugee programme after the termination of the present phase at the end of 1996.

Particularly, the mission will survey the food security situation of the Sudanese refugees in the western camps (Dimma, Fugnido and Bonga) in order to determine to what extent these refugees, who have access to arable land, are, or can become, food self-sufficient and less dependent on aid. With this objective in mind, and as background for the mission, a household food economy survey is currently being undertaken by WFP in Dimma, Fugnido and Bonga refugee camps.

In the eastern camps, the mission will review the role of food rations in refugee household food security and the use of food rations by the beneficiaries. The joint mission will also assess the possibility of re-registration of part of the caseload (amounting to some 90,958 people) that has been counted and is receiving assistance, but is not officially registered. Another issue of importance to be reviewed by the mission is facilitation of the planed repatriation of refugees to north-west Somalia (Somaliland). Donors representatives who contribute food resources for the refugee programme have also been encouraged to participate in the mission.

A joint mission was conducted in the last week of May by UNHCR and the Administration for Refugee and Returnee to meet and discuss the re-registration of the refugees currently in Afar Region. According to ARRA, progress has been made on discussions and registration is likely to commence soon. END


Repatriation from Sudan

Following a halt in the current phase of voluntary repatriation from the Sudan (between March and May), the operation was started again on 25 May. Since the operation resumed, convoys of approximately 500 - 1,000 persons every three to four days have been alternating between the Amhara and Tigray National Regional States of Ethiopia, bringing a total of 3197 Ethiopians in the last week of May. Of some 21,000 Ethiopians who had registered for repatriation by 23 December, a total of 12,395 had returned by the end of January. The operation is expected to transport approximately 10,000 more Ethiopians before the main meher rains make the northern roads inaccessible.

1. The mission comprised of the World Food Programme, European Union, Famine Early Warning System of USAID (FEWS), Save the Children (UK) and UNDP Emergencies Unit for Ethiopia. The report team members who visited belg areas of Southern Tigray was not available at the time this report was prepared, but is likely to reflect to a certain degree the situation in North Shewa, North and South Welo.

2. The new developments section of this report is more comprehensively now covered in the "Horn of Africa - Monthly Review" prepared by the UNDP-EUE; for more information please refer to the latest HoA Monthly Review, Vol. 1., No. 2, covering the period 27 April - 26 May 1996.

3. Source: recent inter-agency assessment mission to North Shewa, South Welo and North Welo.

4. Source: Agricultural Inputs Supply Corporation (AISCO), Amalgamated and WFP Food Aid Information Unit.


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. Information in this report has been obtained from specialised UN agencies and NGO reports. Reference is made to other sources of information as necessary.


UNDP/EUE field reports; Administration for Refugee/Returnee Affairs (ARRA); CARE; CRS (VEWS); DPPC; Early Warning Department of the DPPC; European Union; FAO; FEWS; National Meteorological Services Agency (NMSA); SCF (UK); UNICEF; WFP.

31 May, 1996

UN-EUE  Tel.: (251) (1) 51-10-28/29 
PO Box : 5580  Fax: (251) (1) 51-12-92 
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia  Email: undp-eue@telecom.net.et