Table of Contents
|HIGHLIGHTS||GENERAL EVENTS & DEVELOPMENTS||AGRICULTURE & WEATHER REPORTS|
|FOOD AID AND LOGISTICS||FLOODS||HEALTH, NUTRITION AND WATER|
|REFUGEES AND RETURNEE OPERATIONS|
US Secretary of State visits Ethiopia: Madeleine K. Albright, the United States Foreign Minister, paid a short visit to Ethiopia from 8 to 10 December, on the start of a tour of seven African nations to open a dialogue with people from all parts of Africa. In Addis Ababa, Mrs. Albright met, among others, Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, OAU Secretary General Salim Ahmed Salim and the Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), Mr. K. Y. Amoako. She also met with a group of students to discuss issues of civic education and democracy.
The US Secretary of State expressed her government’s commitment to increase support for Ethiopia’s development endeavours. During talks with Prime Minister Meles on a wide range of issues, Mrs. Albright confirmed that the US government will continue to assist the efforts being made to implement the development strategy of the country. Addressing African diplomats at Africa Hall, she also confirmed her government’s commitment to the region: "Africa matters. And right now, no place matters more in Africa than the Great Lakes."
More high-ranking US visitors: Shortly prior to Mrs’s Albrights visit, a US Presidential trade delegation led by Congressman, Charles B. Rangel, met with President Negasso Gidada and Prime Minister Meles Zenawi to have talks on the existing relations between Ethiopia and the United States and developments on the African continent at large. While highlighting the growing US commitment to Africa, Congressman Rangel said the on-going economic reform in Ethiopia could be exemplary to other African countries. Furthermore he stated, that the United States will support and stand by Ethiopia in promoting trade and investment between the two countries. The delegation comprised representatives from the legislative and executive branches of the US government as well as business executives and entrepreneurs.
Earlier in December, yet another US delegation, four congressmen led by Tom Campbell of California, visited the country to focus on bilateral relations, the situation in the Horn of Africa and Ethiopia’s relations with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the African Development Bank. After visiting different parts of the country, the delegates expressed American support to Ethiopia’s right to utilise her share from the Abay River (Blue Nile).
Shortly after Mrs’s Albrights visit two members of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Chris Walker and Michael Westphal, arrived in Addis Ababa to meet with senior Ethiopian government officials to discuss regional security issues.
French to increase co-operation and aid: During a visit to Addis Ababa, the French Minister for Co-operation and Francophonie, Charles Josselin, commended Ethiopia’s effort in the sphere of development and peace. At an Ethio-French Joint Commission meeting it was noted that Ethiopia and France will in the future expand and broaden their long standing relationship and co-operation covering also new and different areas such as political dialogue and economic and commercial relations. During his visit from 6 to 8 December, Minister Josselin also pledged a substantial increase in French food aid to Ethiopia during 1998.
Co-operation with Sweden also to intensify: In order to further deepen the long-standing relations between Ethiopia and Sweden, Pierre Schori, the Swedish Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and Minister for International Development, Migration and Asylum Policy visited Addis Ababa in mid-December. The Swedish delegation also visited Bahar Dar, the capital of Amhara Region, where a Swedish long-term programme for rural development has started with the aim to improve living standards of the population by a sustainable increase in agriculture production. The broader partnership relation between Ethiopia and Sweden will, among others, be reflected in an Ethio-Swedish Trade Fair scheduled to be held in Addis Ababa from 26 to 30 January 1998.
Symposium on Human Rights: In conjunction with the third anniversary of the adoption of the Ethiopian Federal Constitution, President Negasso Gidada said on the 8 December opening a Human Rights Symposium that the people of Ethiopia are currently undertaking various political, economic and social activities by taking advantage of the different rights the Federal Constitution provided them. "On the whole, our constitution is a supreme law of the country which ensures respect for basic human rights of individuals and peoples", the president said.
IMF advocates liberalisation of Ethiopia’s economy: Meeting Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, the Deputy Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Alassane D. Ouattara, expressed his strong belief in reform and liberalisation of the economy. Ouattara, accompanied by three senior officials, visited Addis Ababa in mid-December at the invitation of Prime Minister Meles to negotiate US $20 million of extended structural adjustment programme (ESAP) assistance suspended last October due to failure of agreement between the two parties which led to a souring of relations. The opening of the banking sector to more local and foreign competition, the restructuring of the financial sector in order to allow the interest rate to be determined by the market and more participation of the private sector in telecommunications, power and land ownership were among the controversial issues highlighted by the IMF Deputy Managing Director.
World Bank lends Ethiopia 200 million dollars: A 200 million dollar credit for Ethiopia’s energy sector development was approved by the World Bank on 11 December. According to a WB statement, the loan will be used to "improve the efficiency and sustainability of Ethiopia’s power sector through institutional capacity building, rural energy development, and the construction of a hydroelectric power plant along the Gilgel Gibe River".
Japanese grant of 12.7 million dollars: Japan is to grant Ethiopia 12.7 million dollars to finance food production and power reinforcement projects following two agreements signed in the capital on 18 December. Under the first agreement, 6.4 million dollars are to be used to purchase and transport agricultural chemicals, machinery and equipment to help strengthen and improve development of agriculture and increase food production. Under the second, 6.3 million dollars are designed to help implement power reinforcement network projects in Addis Ababa.
Ethiopia and Turkey to strengthen ties: Ethiopia and Turkey have signed a memorandum of understanding calling for joint ministerial meetings to strengthen their economic and trade ties. The agreement was signed by Ethiopian Trade and Industry Minister Kassahun Ayele and visiting Turkish Minister of State Mehamet Batalli.
Terrorists on trial in Addis: Fourteen people, including eleven Somali Moslem radicals, are on trial in the Ethiopian Federal High Court on charges of terrorism, the official Ethiopian News Agency (ENA) reported on Christmas Eve. Charges filed against the accused include being members of a Somali terrorist group, Al-Itihad Al-Islam, and having carried out terrorist acts such as hotel bombings (Ghion and Wabi Shebelle in Addis Ababa, Ras Hotel in Dire Dawa), planting explosives in a passenger bus heading for Mekele, killing a Dutch national in Dire Dawa and trying to assassinate Transport and Communications Minister, Abdulmejid Hussein.
Earlier, at the beginning of December, 31 alleged members and supporters of the banned Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) were charged with terrorism and involvement in a series of grenade and bomb attacks in the capital and the east of the country. According to a statement released by the Ethiopian Prosecution Office the 31 people were also charged "with arms stockpiling, destroying property as well as killings".
Five million desperate children: Close to five million children in Ethiopia live in an extremely difficult condition owing to pressing socio-economic problems. This was revealed in a study, presented recently by the Ministry of Labour and Socials Affairs. The paper stated, that thousands of children were left to live without proper care due to famine, drought and displacement, being forced to live in poverty in streets and orphanages. According to estimates, there are about one million street children in Ethiopia.
Digging for gold: An agreement was signed in early December between the government and the private company JCI Ethiopia for the exploration of gold, base metals and associated minerals in Borena Zone, Oromyia Regional State. The exclusive exploration rights cover the next three years while the company’s estimated spending during this period will be 10 million dollars.
AGRICULTURE AND WEATHER REPORTS
The Crop Pest Division of the Ministry of Agriculture, in co-operation with the Desert Locust Control Organisation, conducted surveys throughout December in East Hararghe (Oromyia Region) and Jijiga (Somali Region) Zones to locate grain-eating birds (mainly Quelea quelea) and taking control measures if necessary. Army worm infestations affecting teff crops was reported from two weredas (Burji and Amaro) in Southern Region and affecting teff, wheat and barley in four weredas (Shakiso, Liban, Adola, Wadera) of Borena Zone in Oromyia Region. Action was taken by spraying insecticides.
According to media reports, the Borena Zone Agriculture Department also sprayed 1,880 hectares of land with insecticides to prevent the infestation of hairy caterpillars which started to occur in early December.
While cereal wholesale prices in the Addis Ababa market showed little change in the first half of December, a price decline was quite evident in the third week of December. Between the second and the third week, cereal prices fell rather sharply: teff 10.7 percent, barley 9 percent, sorghum 4.8 percent and wheat 2.7 percent. Only maize did not (in the third week) follow the declining trend, showing a price increase of more than 16 percent in Addis Ababa. However, the general wholesale price decline observed in the third week of December did not continue to prevail in the fourth week. In Addis Ababa market, the price situation reversed with all cereals but sorghum, which decreased sharply by 15.4 percent, mainly due to a 25 percent increase in market volumes, increasing in price. The real surprise of the week, according to the Weekly Market Information Flash of the Grain Market Research Project, was, however, the increase of the teff price by 12.8 percent. The reasons could be flow decline by some 27 percent and the onset of Ramadan and the approaching of the Ethiopian Christmas. Furthermore, market anticipation that there will be supply shortage ahead due to unseasonal rains might be another reason for the teff price increase. Another surprise was that the maize price started to decline. Overall, cereal prices at the end of 1997 were about 30 percent higher than during the same period in 1996.
Selected wholesale prices in mid-December were as follows (Ethiopian Birr per 100 kgs): Mixed Teff, Birr 111.3 - 252 (Dejen / Dire Dawa); Barley, Birr 123 - 210 (Bahir Dar / Metu); Wheat, Birr 127 -260 (Shambu / Mekele); Sorghum, Birr 80 - 215 (Gonder / Dire Dawa); and White Maize, Birr 73.6 - 130 (Dangla / Mekele).
The first dekad of December saw a significant decrease in rainfall activity across the country, compared to the last dekad of the previous month. Satellite data indicated rainfall for early December limited to few areas over southern and south-western parts of Ethiopia (as is normal for the time of year), with relatively high rainfall over the southern tip of the Southern Region. This trend continued throughout the second dekad of the month with further significant decreases, limiting rainfall activity only to Gambella and Southern Region. In the last dekad, rainfall ranging from 15 mm to 90 mm was registered mainly over some parts of Southern and Somali Regions, while the rest of the country was dry. Precipitation over Gambella decreased while it slightly increased over Somali Region.
The generally dry weather conditions favoured harvest and post-harvest activities. In pastoral areas, the weather patterns of December allowed the further regeneration of grazing lands and improved availability of drinking water.
FOOD AID AND LOGISTICS
Emergency Food Security Reserve
The Emergency Food Security Reserve, which was critical to the success of relief operations in 1997, had a physical balance of 125,772 tons as of 8 January 1998. Although this is well below the Reserve’s total notional stock of 307,000 tons, there are already repayments in the ports waiting for delivery to the EFSR and the major portion of emergency food arrivals over the next three months will be for repayments to the Reserve.
1997 Food Aid Pledges and Carry-overs into 1998
By the end of 1997 total grain and pulse pledges against the various 1997 appeals amounted to 204,965 tons, excluding the very recent European Union pledge of 23,500 tons against the DPPC belg appeal.
Although there were fairly substantial food aid stocks in Djibouti and Assab at the end of the month, most of these shipments were repayments to the Emergency Food Security Reserve and will not be counted as carry-over stocks. Up-country carry-over stocks will also probably be limited as the DPPC feels that the November/December distributions will have utilised most in-country stocks. However, the European Union pledge of 23,500 tons, because it was announced in late December, will be an additional carry-over into 1998.
The tentative shipping schedule of emergency grain shipments for early 1998 is given below. However, as with the current port stocks, most of the arrivals listed below are destined for the Emergency Food Reserve and can not be considered carry-over stocks.
|2nd Quarter ‘98||Various||
1998 Food Aid Pledges
In the 28 November Government appeal for 1998 the DPPC requested 572,835 tons of food to meet urgent relief needs for the coming year. On 11 December the United States government announced a pledge of 75,000 tons of wheat and sorghum in response to this appeal. In the same press release the US government congratulated the government of Ethiopia on "... its strenuous efforts to reduce the food deficit..." and stated that the US would continue to assist Ethiopia’s efforts to become food self-sufficient. Other donors have also indicated their support for the DPPC appeal but as of the end of December the 75,000 tons from the US is the only confirmed pledge. As the DPPC estimates a food requirement of over 300,000 tons from December to the end of May, donors are urged to announce pledges as early as possible.
As part of the on-going effort to refine and enhance the Early Warning System, the DPPC called together the Early Warning Working Group (comprising representatives of UN agencies, donors and NGOs) on 22 December to discuss plans for reviewing three draft early warning manuals, the first components of a series of five covering food security, crops, livestock, agro-meteorology and markets. Also discussed was the annual needs assessment of pastoral areas (Somali region, Borena zone of Oromiya and South Omo zone of the Southern region) that will take place in late December/early January and the possibility of doing a post-harvest needs assessment in selected highland areas. Although post-harvest needs assessments are not normally part of the DPPC assessment schedule, the peculiar rains in October and November had both negative and positive impacts in some areas which could mean increased relief needs where crops were damaged by the late rains but perhaps reduced needs in the agro-pastoral areas where livestock forms an important part of the household income.
FAO/WFP Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission Report
The FAO/WFP Crop and Food Supply Assessment Report, which was issued at the end of December, highlighted the problems faced by Ethiopia because of the erratic weather in 1997 and estimated 1997 meher cereal and pulse production at 8,786,000 tons, 25.6 percent less the bumper year of 1996. The poor 1997 belg rains affected land preparation for the main season while the erratic rains during the main meher season affected production in many of the traditionally food deficit areas. The unusual rains in October/November, while extremely important to the recovery of livestock throughout the drought affected areas, was a mixed blessing in many of the cropping areas. Some long-cycle crops benefited from the extension of the rainy season but crops like teff were adversely affected and in some areas post-harvest losses increased.
In addition to erratic rains the other major factor contributing to the decrease in production was a 20 percent reduction in fertiliser use in 1997 and a 9 percent decrease in area planted, down to 10.98 million hectares. At least in part the decrease in area planted was due to the poor belg season which hampered land preparation for the main season crops. A combination of factors seems to have led to the decrease in fertiliser use in 16 zones of Amhara, Oromia and SNPPR:
Although there is still a difference of opinion between WFP and the DPPC regarding the relief needs for 1998, there is agreement that at least 420,000 tons is needed and donors should not delay pledges because of this difference in numbers.
Other issues noted in the report which will need addressed in the coming year include much closer harmonisation of assessment methodologies, agreement on whether the Central Statistical Agency or Ministry of Agriculture will provide the crop production data and estimates and an agreement of the overall population of Ethiopia.
The serious flooding that affected lower reaches of the Shebelle, Ganale and Weib rivers in eastern Ethiopia in October/November abated significantly during the course of December. However, many thousands of people remain displaced and unable to return home due to roads that are cut and difficulties in accessing some areas which are still very marshy.
While a joint Government, Red Cross, DPPC Task Force in Gode has been successful—despite severe logistical constraints—in co-ordinating the delivery of food and shelter materials to the affected population, concerns are now rising over the threat posed by diseases such as malaria and severe dysentery. Animals are also said to be suffering from afflictions such as "foot rot" arising from prolonged exposure to wet, muddy soil conditions.
After the French army concluded their ten day helicopter airlift operation (25 November – 5 December), which gave the initial relief operation out of Gode a much appreciated boost, two helicopters from the Ethiopia defence force continued the work of shuttling supplies to communities still cut-off by the floods. Since the departure of these helicopters on 18 December, the Task Force has been obliged to seek funding for the hire of local trucks able to negotiate the very difficult road conditions. By the beginning of the new year, it was reported that access was again possible by road from Gode via Kelafo and Mustahil all the way down to Belet Weyne, across the border in Somalia and an important trading centre for the Shebelle river axis.
Looking forward to the rehabilitation of the flood-affected area, the red Cross have concluded an agreement to purchase approximately 60 tons of a variety of maize seed known as "Kelafo" which is well adapted to local conditions. This will be distributed to farmers along the Shebelle river in time for them to take advantage of the current planting season. At the request of the Somali regional administration, the NGO "Ogaden Welfare Society" is also working with local officials to draw up a comprehensive plan for the rehabilitation of the affected areas in Gode, Afder and Liban zones, prioritising assistance to farmers, road repairs, health facilities and water supplies.
HEALTH, NUTRITION AND WATER
Iodine deficiency a serious risk: Over 35 million Ethiopians are at risk of iodine deficiency diseases, recent reports by the Ministry of Health and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) disclosed. At the Ethiopia launching of the 1998 UNICEF Report on The State of the World’s Children which focuses particularly on malnutrition, Dr. Adem Ibrahim, the Minister of Health, said about 50,000 pre-natal deaths occur annually due to severe iodine deficiency in pregnant women. Also some 26 persons in every 100 people in Ethiopia are found to have goitre (swelling of the thyroid gland in the neck) due to the deficiency. The Minister of Health also stated that malnutrition rates in Ethiopia are the highest in Africa and the third highest in the world. Dr. Adem said over 4.5 million Ethiopian children are underweight and over 6 million are stunted from chronic exposure to malnutrition. At the Ethiopia launching of the 1998 UNICEF Report on 16 December, the new UNICEF Representative to Ethiopia, Per Engebak, reiterated the agency’s determination to continue working hand-in-hand with the Government in its nutrition interventions.
Successful polio campaign: As of early December, about six million children across the country have been vaccinated against polio through the campaign launched at national level, the Ministry of Health has stated. According to reports reaching the capital, about 70 per cent of the 8.6 million children intended to be given polio vaccination have so far been vaccinated. Campaigns have been particularly successful in urban areas, while in remote areas, especially in those affected by floods, it became difficult to apply the programme. The polio vaccination campaign will continue until the year 2000.
Malaria spreading in arid areas: Some 20 per cent of the 2.5 million people in West Shoa Zone (Oromyia Regional State) are malaria-affected, the zonal health department disclosed in early December ending a three-day training on the prevention of malaria. Most of the people affected reside in arid areas of the zone. While in 1993 the whole of Oromyia Region had 73,800 people infected with malaria the number has risen to 221,200 in 1996/97.
Cholera Task Force for East Africa: The World Health Organisation (WHO), with the support of the British government, is to set up a task force in January 1998 in Addis Ababa to help curb the spread of cholera in East Africa, the Ethiopian Ministry of Health announced on 28 December. Strategies in the three year action plan to battle the disease include enhancing procurement and storage of drugs as well as building laboratories in cholera-hit countries in the region.
Health assessment in Somali Region: WHO, in co-operation with the Somali Regional Health Bureau, has participated in a joint mission to Somali Region to assess the health situation and the possible need for further health interventions following the floods which occurred in October/November. The WHO consultant focussed primarily on the situation in the Gode area while a second team from the regional health bureau visited Afdher and Liban zones along the Weib and Ganale rivers. The WHO report is currently being finalised and findings will be made available soon.
REFUGEES AND RETURNEE OPERATIONS
There was a revalidation of the refugee ration cards between 8 and 16 November 1997 in the Somali refugee camps in eastern Ethiopia. According to the interim results of the exercise there was an overall reduction of 12 percent in the total refugee population.
A joint WFP/UNHCR/ARRA Food Assessment Mission (JFAM) took place from 24 November to 5 December 1997. The mission recommended inter-alia, the need for a modified food distribution system which should be able to weed-out excess ration cards in the system and at the same time ensure the food reaches those refugees who need assistance most.
658 Southern Sudanese refugees arrived in three western camps (Bonga, Fugnido and Shirkole) during the month of November. Most of the new arrivals claimed they were fleeing due to lack of food and ethnic fighting between the Topoza and Dinka tribes.
During November, consultations and preparatory activities progressed in readiness for the resumption of voluntary repatriation movements. The two voluntary repatriation operations currently in-hand—of Ethiopians returning from Sudan and that of Somali refugees from Ethiopia—were planned to begin simultaneously on 15 December.
As a follow up to the Tripartite meeting held in Geneva in October between the Governments of Sudan, Ethiopia and UNHCR, a technical tripartite committee meeting was held in Humera on 26 November, to discuss and finalise all operational matters in advance of the movements. In that meeting, agreement was reached on, among other operational issues, dates for the information campaign in Sudan, the participants from Ethiopia to the information campaign, and the cut-off dates for registration as well as for the repatriation programme itself i.e. 18 February and 31 May 1998 respectively.
In the local media it was reported that the first group of returnees participating in the resumed operation arrived in Gondar from Sudan at the end of December. The Organisation for Rehabilitation and Development in Amhara (ORDA), a partner in the repatriation programme, confirmed that the 139 Ethiopian refugees in this first group would spend a few days in a makeshift shelter close to Gondar town before leaving to their places of origin. At the transit shelter, each returnee is provided with 970 Birr (approximately US $140) in cash, 150 kgs of food rations (part of a nine month package of food assistance), plastic sheeting, blankets and various household utensils. The Government will also allocate land to those returnees wishing to farm and rent payments to those who choose to live in urban areas. With funds provided by UNHCR, ORDA expects to assist in organising the repatriation of close to 20,000 Ethiopian refugees by the time the current operation end in May. As of 12 January, ARRA confirmed that a total of 828 refugees had been transported from Kessala in Sudan to the transit shelter near Gondar.
Statistics (as of 31 November 1997)
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); Administration
for Refugee and Returnee Affairs (ARRA); Grain Market Research Project
of the Ministry of Economic Development and Co-operation (GMRP-MEDaC);
SCF (UK); UNICEF; UNHCR; WHO; AFP; ENA.
13 January, 1997
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