Emergencies Unit for Ethiopia


Consolidated UN report prepared by the Information Section of the Emergencies Unit for Ethiopia from information and reports provided by specialised UN agencies, the Government and NGOs

Table of contents 



Progress of Nations: The 1997 United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) report on "The Progress of Nations" was launched world-wide on 22 July. In Addis Ababa the report was launched at the new UNECA Conference Center by Woizero Tadalech Haile Michael, Head of Women's Affairs in the Prime Minister's Office, who said that "violence against women and girls in Ethiopia takes many forms and is quite alarming". According to "The Progress of Nations 1997" report, violence against women and girls is a major obstacle to social and economic development in the world today. Published annually the report ranks nations according to achievements on key issues affecting the health, welfare and rights of children. The 1997 report includes - among others - new league tables on sanitation, under-5 mortality rates and women in ministerial positions..

Children in armed conflict: A conference on Children in Situations of Armed Conflict in Africa, organized by the Organization of African Unity (OAU) and the Nairobi-based, African Network for the Prevention and Protection of Child Abuse and Neglect, was opened in Addis Ababa on 24 July. The conference, attended by 150 governmental and NGO delegates from all African countries, was called to consider actions required across the continent to ensure protection and care of children.

Adiabun Dam in Tigray inaugurated: The Adiabun Dam, supplying water to the towns of Adwa and Adiabun in the central zone of Tigray Regional State, was inaugurated on 5 August. The dam, whose construction began three years ago, was constructed at the cost of 56 million Birr and has a capacity of 10,000,000 cubic meters.

Lalibela Airport goes operational: By mid-August the new Lalibela Airport in North Welo Zone of Amhara Region went operational. The airport, whose 2,520 meter runway accommodates airliners with a capacity of up to 80 passengers, was constructed at a cost of 53 million Birr and is located near the famous rock-hewn churches of Lalibela. The facility is not only contributing to Ethiopia's tourism industry but also provides an important air link between the central highland area and the capital.

Sasakawa Global 2000: "Agricultural Intensification in Sub-Saharan Africa: Securing the Production Base" was the theme of a workshop held in the assembly hall of UNECA in Addis Ababa on 25/26 August. The workshop, co-chaired by former US President Jimmy Crater, Nobel Laureate Dr. Norman Borlaug and Yohei Sasakawa, a Japanese philanthropist and president of the Nippon foundation, was held as a joint-venture of the Sasakawa Africa Association and Global 2000 of the Carter Center in Atlanta, Georgia. Addressing the participants, which included ministers of agriculture from twelve SG-2000 project countries in Africa and high-level representatives from international organizations, Prime Minister Meles Zenawi described the Sasakawa Global 2000 as a pioneer venture in agricultural intensification in sub-Saharan Africa and, referring to Ethiopia's current circumstances, expressed the hope that SG-2000, in conjunction with UNECA would help to come up with appropriate responses to the challenge posed by insufficient rain. Former US President Jimmy Carter, praising "the dramatic changes in agriculture and food production achieved by Ethiopia during the past few years", called for international donors to invest in Ethiopia.

200 women parliamentarians meet in Addis Ababa: The fourth international conference of women speakers of parliaments was held in the last week of August at the UNECA conference center in Addis Ababa. Ethiopian President Negasso Gidada said in a keynote address to the participants: "The position of women in developing countries is aggravated not only because of the economic hardship but also harmful practices that reflect lack of development in education." Woizero Almaz Meko, chairwoman of Ethiopia's parliament, pointed out that while women make up half the world's population "fewer that 15 parliaments are chaired by women".

DPPC holds quarterly meeting with regional relief officials: The DPPC met with regional relief bureaux representatives in Addis Ababa mid-August and during this regular meeting also convened three special workshops: Incorporating Women's Issues in Strategic Planning and Food Aid Management; the new Draft Employment Generation Scheme (EGS) Guidelines; and the report of a UNDP-funded study tour on Non-Governmental Organizations and Disaster Management Activities in South Africa, the Philippines and Zimbabwe.


Belg season harvest prospects and appeal

The main belg producing areas include North Shewa, North and South Welo, Southern Tigray and parts of East and West Hararghe, North Omo, Arsi, Bale and SNNPR. The DPPC, which carried out assessments in the belg producing areas in conjunction with the regional Disaster Prevention and Preparedness Bureaus (DPPBs), Ministry of Agriculture, the National Meteorological Services Agency (NMSA), the Central Statistical Authority (CSA), the Ethiopian Mapping Authority, WFP and FEWS/USAID, reported that the belg failed in most parts of the country with the total area being planted in belg crops reduced by 37% and total belg season production being 42% less than 1996. As a result, the DPPC has estimated that an additional 1,215,800 people would need food assistance.

Summary of area planted and production during the belg of 1996 and 1997
Hectares Planted
Production (metric tons)
% Change
% Change
Tigray  25,800 17,363
16,400 6,058
Amhara  259,300 194,900
185,800 103,900
Oromiya  286,400 207,800
284,300 217,900
SNNPR  407,900 333,500
661,000 337,900
Source: DPPC Early Warning Report, The 1997 Belg Production and Food Prospect of the Belg Growing Areas.

* 1997 Crop production estimates

 People affected by the failure of the belg and food requirements:
Population needing assistance
Food aid required until 31 December
Population needing close monitoring
Tigray  86,600  7,794 tons 
Amhara  609,500  52,995 tons  92,100 
Oromiya  108,900  9,615 tons  66,200 
SNNPR  410,800  27,945 tons  411,200 
TOTAL  1,215,800  98,349 tons  569,500 
Source: DPPC Early Warning Report, The 1997 Belg Production and Food Prospect of the Belg Growing Areas.

As a follow-up to their earlier belg report the DPPC met with the donor community on 22 August to review the current food situation and appeal for assistance in meeting the food gap. Total relief food needs for the remainder of the year (July to the end of December) were estimated by the DPPC to be 300,000 tons and, after deducting relief pledges and development food aid that could be used in disaster areas, the DPPC estimated that the overall shortfall in emergency relief assistance was 154,107 tons. Donors were requested to urgently assist the government in meeting this shortfall. At this same meeting the DPPC reiterated its concern over the possibility of both low carryover stocks and a less than optimum Emergency Food Security Reserve at the end of 1997 and urged donors to use imports to repay the EFSR and for new pledges against the present shortfall.

Fertilizer sales below target

According to FAO, total fertilizer sales had reached 198,083 tons by the end of July against the revised target for 1997 of 300,000 tons. At this point, where most planting for the main meher season has already been completed, only minor sales in early August might lead to a slight increase. Sales have decreased by about 21% in comparisons to the 253,000 tons sold in 1996. Possible reasons why this year's figures are likely to be disappointing include unfavorable rainfall patterns during the belg and current meher seasons, increase in fertilizer prices and difficulties farmers faced repaying pervious fertilizer loans.

Increasing concern over the meher season

The belg season rains, although accounting for only 5 to 7 percent of Ethiopia's total production, are extremely important for certain localities, such as parts of South Welo, where they can account for 50 percent or more of the year's production. These short rains are also important for the regeneration of pasture and ground water resources and for land preparation for the main cropping season, the meher. Land preparation is particularly critical and this year, because of the erratic nature of the belg rains, less land than last year has been prepared for main season crops and in many areas long-cycle, high yielding crops or crop varieties have been replaced by short-cycle, lower yielding crops or crop varieties. Although the "knock-on" effect of a poor belg can be mitigated to a certain extent by a good main rainy season, there are increasing concerns that the main rains may also be erratic, poor or will cease early.

The main rainy season started on time in most areas but a series of dry spells, particularly in the eastern and southern lowlands, could be very detrimental to maize and sorghum crops in these areas. The National Meteorological Services Agency (NMSA) throughout the month of August continued to stress in their dekade reports the need for farmers to switch to drought resistant crops and use water harvesting and conversation methods. Crops in some areas may recover from these intermittent dry spells as rain patterns shifted east and then west again but a more normal pattern of rains in September will be critical if further crop losses are to be avoided.

In addition to decreased production because of less land being prepared and the switch to lower yielding crops, other factors that could affect the 1997 main season harvest include moisture stress on crops at the critical flowering and fructification stages, decreased fertilizer use, increased pest and weed infestations, and the dependence of re-planted crops on an extended rainy season.

Although detailed assessments will have to wait until after the conclusion of the main rainy season around the end of September, preliminary assessments are pessimistic with the DPPC Early Warning Department projecting meher production at 32% less than the 1995 production figures of approximately 9.7 million tons (1995 was selected for comparison as it was a more "normal" year than the bumper harvest of 1996). These projections are still tentative but if they are confirmed by pre-harvest assessments during the last quarter of the year then Ethiopia will need substantial food imports in 1998.

Emergency Food Security Reserve (EFSR)

Concerns about prospects for a poor meher harvest have increased anxiety about the level of the Emergency Food Security Reserve both in terms of sufficient stocks to loan against new pledges as well as the level of the Reserve at the end of the year. As of 1 September, EFSR stocks stood at 64,896 tons, excluding 19,300 tons already allocated for loans but still in the warehouse. Major loan repayments in the coming months include about 40,000 tons of USAID Title III wheat that arrived in the port of Assab at the very end of August and will be delivered to the EFSR by the end of September, and roughly 28,000 tons from the WFP local purchase programme that is expected to be delivered by the end of October. In spite of the significant repayments made during August, the DPPC remains concerned about stock levels and has requested donors to make remaining loan repayments through imports by the end of October.

According to a recent series of scenarios on anticipated loans and repayments for the remainder of the year prepared by WFP, assuming that all outstanding loans will be repaid by the end of the year, the best case scenario shows a balance at the end of the year of 124,155 tons:

EFSR Stocks as of 19 August  72,699 tons 
Plus: EC 1996 Carryover pledge  9,717 tons
          Expected Repayments  193,526 tons 
Less: Planned borrowings  151,787 tons 
           Estimated Stocks as of 31 December  124,155 tons 
(Source: WFP Addis Food Aid Information Unit, 26/08/97)

Grain prices and terms of trade

After a rather sharp rise in July, wholesale grain prices monitored by the Grain Market Research Project in 26 major market towns followed a more normal pattern for this time of year and increased only slightly in August. However, wholesale grain prices in Addis Ababa remained about 20% higher than the same time a year ago and in many of the lesser markets or in the more rural areas prices have shown a sharper rise and terms of trade - i.e., the amount of grain that can be purchased for livestock, daily labour, firewood and charcoal - have declined.

Study on the availability of grain

The European Union study on "commercial" grain availability was completed at the end of August. The final results of the study will not be available until mid September but the initial indications are that approximately 190,000 tons are being held by merchants and state farms; however, in view of the rather fluid market situation at the moment it is highly unlikely any significant portion of these stocks would be available for further local purchases.

Pledges and food pipeline

In response to the DPPC belg appeal WFP made a notional pledge of 35,200 tons of relief food and an emergency operation has already been submitted to WFP Rome for approval. At the same donor meeting, USAID confirmed their previous pledge of 20,000 tons of Title II emergency food assistance. According to WFP, total grain and pulse pledges against all 1997 DPPC emergency appeals presently stands at 133,426 tons, excluding the most recent WFP notional pledge, announced at the donor meeting on 22 August. Deliveries, however, have been slow and it is only with the arrival of the USAID Title III shipment of 44,731 tons at the very end of August that deliveries moved from 3% to 37%. As the DPPC has already borrowed (and distributed) roughly 40,000 tons from the Emergency Food Security Reserve, most of the incoming USAID shipment will be sent directly to the EFSR warehouses as repayments. The food import pipeline has improved slightly but as the actually shipping dates for many of these consignments have not yet been confirmed, the current schedule must be considered very tentative.


(It should be noted that there is a complex relationship between rainfall and crop production. Rainfall patterns need to be considered with due regard to soil conditions and the stage of crop development. Together with NMSA, the DPPC is presently working on a crop specific water balance model as a tool for interpreting the impact of rainfall amounts and timing on crop yields).

Region 1 - Tigray
Western Tigray, which is usually the surplus producing area of this region, has received generally better rainfall than eastern areas. The eastern lowlands and South Tigray zone have been particularly affected by erratic and low rainfall. Crops in some areas may have recovered with improved rainfall late in July but South Tigray zone, which is already hit by a poor belg, had, according to NMSA, a 60% reduction in rain during July. The first two dekades of August showed a mixed pattern with the western areas first receiving less than normal rainfall and then above normal rainfall during the second dekade. Unfortunately, South Tigray zone continued to have poor rain throughout these two dekades.

Region 2 - Afar
Although the northern areas of Afar region had close to normal rainfall in July, the southern two thirds of the region were below normal. According to NMSA reports, during the first two dekades of August virtually all of Afar region received less than normal rainfall.

Region 3 - Amhara
Amhara region is one of the most important grain producing areas of the country, accounting for about 32% of Ethiopia's meher cereal and pulse crop. Even before the August appeal Amhara region had high relief needs and, as North and South Welo, Oromiya and North Shewa zones are all belg producing areas, relief needs have increased because of the failed belg rains. Recent reports by both SCF(UK) and UNDP-EUE indicate that North and South Welo are in a particularly precarious situation with terms of trade dropping and rural families relying more and more heavily on traditional coping mechanisms and relief food distributions to survive.

Aside from the eastern edge of Amhara region, rains during the first two dekades of August have been generally good. During the last dekade, western and central Amhara continued to have reasonably good rains but in the eastern and lowland areas rain was sparse.

Region 4 - Oromiya
Oromiya, the largest region in Ethiopia, produces 47% of the country's meher cereals and pulses and has the highest population. Initially, relief needs were fairly minor compared to the needs of Tigray and Amhara but with drought in the pastoral areas of Borena zone earlier in the year needs rose from about 15,000 tons to roughly 50,000 tons and then an additional 10,000 tons was added because of the failure of the belg. In spite of the new needs in the belg producing areas of Northwest Shewa, West Hararghe, Arsi and Bale zones, the main area of concern remains Borena zone. Following a recent assessment of the pastoral and agro-pastoral areas of Borena, CARE Ethiopia's Food Information System (CEFIS) has reported that the effects of the drought earlier in the year were compounded by erratic rains in April and May. In the three weredas covered by the survey it was estimated that there was an overall agricultural production shortfall of between 85-90% and that livestock condition remains poor while terms of trade between livestock and grain have deteriorated. Although the surveyed areas are not major grain producers, the failure of the crop will add to the food security problems in Dire, Teltele and Yabello weredas.

Catholic Relief Service (CRS) also conducted surveys in East Hararghe zone and the Dire Dawa area and report deteriorating terms of trade and only very limited stocks at the household level.

Although the western parts of Oromiya region have had fairly normal rainfall, the south-eastern portion of the region has not faired as well. As with the rest of the country, normal rainfall in September is critical.

SNNPR - Southern People's region
In the Southern Peoples region the vulnerable Wolayta area of North Omo zone has been an area of particular concern because of its high population density, limited land holdings and fragile household security systems. After initial concerns raised earlier in the year about deteriorating nutritional status, relief distribution were increased and the most recent SCF(UK) surveys indicate that the nutritional status has stabilized. Although the early rains were poor, the main rainy season started on time and at the time of the survey (June/July) were reported to have been reasonably good in most areas.

In August, the rains were generally good over most of the region in the first dekade but much of the southern three quarters of the region received less than normal rainfall in the second dekade, a trend that seems to have continued in the third dekade.


UNICEF has expressed concern following indications that the nutritional status of a significant number of children under five years of age was below 70% weight for height in Liben wereda, Borena zone of Oromyia Region (as reported by SCF-US). Equally critical conditions had also been reported by SCF-US from their project area in North Shewa zone of Amhara Region. As supplementary feeding has started in Borena, UNICEF will continue to monitor the situation in both areas and is hoping to conduct a follow-up assessment mission jointly with DPPC particularly to Liben, Borena.

The World Health Organization is supporting the national Accelerated Malaria Control Programme through an allocation of US $900,000 to be utilized up to the end of the year. While Amhara, Oromyia and SNNPR are the main beneficiaries, all regional states are organizing social mobilization programmes. The last week of August was celebrated as "Malaria Week", with all regions running such mobilization programmes.

In the Southern People's region a rise in malaria cases was reported informally by some sources but information received from the regional health bureau and the Ministry of Health did not confirm this. Meanwhile, according to press reports, the Health Bureau of the Oromyia regional state disclosed that each year malaria affects more than one million people in that region.

WHO is also actively supporting HIV/AIDS programmes. Training, social mobilization, as well as the purchase of essential equipment and supplies are the main components. At the end of July WHO transferred a total of 1.8 million Birr (approximately $265,000) to the Ministry of Health in support of the programme.

In response to government appeals earlier this year, WHO funded the purchase of Emergency Health Kits worth US $150,000 for use in drought-affected pastoral areas of the south and south-east of the country. Funds will also be made available for the recruitment of three consultants to support emergency preparedness programmes in the country, mainly in nutritional assessments. The availability of the fund are been communicated both to the DPPC and Ministry of Health.


The official refugee population in Ethiopia by site as at end of July 1997 stood as follows:
West - Sudanese  East - Somalis 
Bonga 11,713 Aisha  15,282 
Dimma 7,103 Camaboker 36,120 
Fugnido 17,669 Daror 49,388 
Shirkole  17,073 Dharwanaji  40,601 
Total  53,558 Hartisheik  53,760 
Kebribeyah 10,431 
South - Kenyans Rabasso  28,381
Moyale  8,671 (Based on a registration by ARRA in November 1994. Since then figures remained static).  Teferiber  43,789 
Total  277,752
North East - Djiboutians  Addis Ababa - urban  756 
Afar Region  8,000 (Estimate presently used by WFP for food allocation. Spontaneous departures are not recorded). 
Grand Total
Voluntary Repatriation

The operation to repatriate Ethiopian refugees from Sudan is expected to re-commence in October 1997, after cessation of the rains.

The pilot voluntary repatriation movement of Somalis refugees to North West Somalia, which commenced on 18 February 1997, was successfully completed on 22 July. Twenty-five convoys moved a total of 1,713 families (9,945 persons) from three eastern refugee camps (Darwanaji, Hartisheik and Teferiber) to the northwest area of Somalia ("Somaliland") through 5 dispersal points. 178 further persons, bringing the total repatriated to 10,123, did not need assistance from UNHCR. Food for the repatriation was supplied by WFP while UNHCR arranged transport


UNHCR, the Government's Administration for Refugee and Returnee Affairs (ARRA) and WFP have formed a Task Force to prepare for a revalidation exercise in the 8 Somali refugees camps in the east and for the forthcoming resumption of the voluntary repatriation operation. The revalidation of family registration cards, to be conducted through "tukul" (housing unit) and head counts of the refugee population, aims to determine the exact number of beneficiaries residing in the camps.
Reintegration projects

Reintegration projects in health, education, water, agriculture and animal husbandry were implemented in the returnee reintegration areas of the Tigray, Amhara, Oromiya, and Somali regions. These projects include construction of new health, education and water facilities as well as the provision of farming inputs and animals to selected needy returnee households for income generation and self sufficiency. The projects were implemented by regional government departments such as Ministry of Health, Regional Disaster Prevention and Preparedness bureaux in coordination with Health and Education bureaux, Natural Resource Development and Environmental Protection offices, and ARRA together with local NGOs. UNESCO was also involved in the provision of Teachers Emergency Packages (TEPs) and training primary school teachers on the utilization of the educational material.

Environment and agriculture

From 21 to 23 July, UNHCR and ARRA jointly organized a workshop in Jimma on "Sustainable Agriculture and Environment in the Refugee Settlement Areas in Western Ethiopia". The three day workshop was attended by more than 35 participants, including officials from the Government, NGOs, concerned UNHCR Field and Sub-Offices, ARRA Camp Coordinators, Agricultural and Forestry workers as well as refugee representatives from Dimma, Bonga, Fugnido and Assosa. The main objectives of the workshop were to create and raise awareness of the participants on environmental issues, to provide them appropriate tools with which they could change the situation in their respective refugee areas and to provide opportunities to exchange experience.

In the east, a team of experts from UNHCR and ARRA comprising various disciplines (agriculture, environment and water) left for the Somali region on 29 July to collect data on environmental issues around the refugee camps, main local villages and in places where there are large concentrations of Ethiopian returnees.

Health and Nutrition

A three day training workshop for medical doctors and senior paramedics was held in the capital of the Somali region, Jigjiga, from 23 to 25 July 1997. The main topics covered were: refresher courses for the community health workers, how to improve the care and management of patients referred to secondary and tertiary health care centers, review of drug management system, health information system and environmental health activities.

Nutritional surveys were planned for the last part of August/early September in all camps in anticipation of a Joint food Assessment Mission in October (WFP, UNHCR and ARRA).


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.


UNDP/EUE field reports; CARE; Disaster Prevention and Preparedness Commission (DPPC); European Union; FAO; FEWS; National Meteorological Services Agency (NMSA); Grain Market Research Project (MEDaC); SCF (UK); UNICEF; UNHCR; WHO.

15 September, 1997

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