Emergencies Unit for Ethiopia 

Borena and Liban Affected by Drought: 
Situation Report on the Drought Affected Areas of Oromiya and Somali Regions

(25 November - 5 December 1996)

 By Joachim D. Ahrens, Field Officer, and Dr. Ahmed Yusuf Farah, Anthropologist; UNDP Emergencies Unit for Ethiopia

1. Introduction and Objective

The southern lowland weredas of Borena zone (Oromiya, Region 4) and the entire area of Liban zone (Somali, Region 5), being both located in the arid South of Ethiopia, are presently affected by drought and an influx of non-Ethiopian pastoralists from neighbouring Kenya and Somalia searching for perennial water sources (of which the Genale and Dawa river are among the most important) and rangelands more favourable than those back home. While in recent years favourable rainfall was able to alleviate the chronic water shortage, the second rainy season this year was clearly insufficient to replenish water resources and to regenerate the rangelands. The survey area has normally two rainy seasons. In Borena the main rainy season ("ganna") usually occurs between March and May and contributes to up to 65 per cent of the total annual rainfall, while the short rainy season ("hagaya") from October to November provides the remaining 35 per cent of annual water input. In Liban zone the respective Somali terms for the rainy seasons are "gu' " and "deyr" .

While even in "normal" years the rainfall pattern in the survey areas is erratic with uneven distribution, this year particularly the short rainy season was much below average. According to the records of the Southern Rangelands Development Unit (SORDU) in Yabelo town, the southern weredas of Borena, for instance, had this year during the second season only one week of rain towards the end of September, followed by three more days of rain in late November. Therefore the "hagaya" - rains, instead of providing 35 per cent of the water needs as mentioned above, secured only 5 per cent of the usual needs.

While Borena and Liban are prone to drought, adjacent areas in neighbouring Kenya and Somalia are even more likely to suffer from water scarcity. With an almost complete failure of the second rainy season being reported from northern Kenya and Southwest Somalia, the influx of pastoralists from those countries into Ethiopia searching for water and pasture became evident, leading to a situation where locals and "guests", often related by trans-border kinship and sharing common languages and cultures, have to compete for the use of the few perennial water resources. Furthermore, these nomadic migration patterns are having an impact on the food security of an area, where food crops are being produced locally only to a small extent representing 15 percent of the overall economy in southern Borena (main crops: maize, wheat, lowland teff, haricot-beans) and 5 per cent (maize, sorghum, wheat) of the activity in Liban-Somali. The bulk of economic activitities are dependent on pastoralist activities.

The Emergencies Unit for Ethiopia (UNDP-EUE) had conducted an assessment mission to Liban zone in Somali National Regional State early this year and published a report focusing on that particular area ("Socioeconomic Conditions affecting Vulnerable Groups in the Rural and Urban Centers in Liban Zone", by Dr. Ahmed Yusuf Farah, January 1996). Based on the general conditions outlined above, one objective of the latest EUE-mission (carried out 25 November to 5 December 1996) was to re-assess comparatively the situation in Liban zone. Moreover, taking into account the interwoven problems and socio-economic similarities of the two neighbouring regions, another objective was to assess the situation in the southern weredas of Borena zone of Oromiya Regional State. At this point it has to be noted that the central Disaster Prevention and Preparedness Commission (DPPC), jointly with CARE Ethiopia, was also carrying out, in late November and early December, an assessment mission in six weredas of southern Borena (Moyale, Arero, Liban-Borena, Dire, Yabelo, Teltele). While pursuing also its assessment objectives in Somali Region, the EUE-team supported the fieldwork of the DPPC-CARE joint mission (mainly in Yabelo and Moyale weredas). While CARE has one of its operational areas in Borena (Yabelo, Dire, Teltele), DPPC's mission was initiated by an official request for assistance from the Oromiya Regional Administration. However, since apparently no similar request had been forwarded by the Somali Regional Authorities in Jijiga, the DPPC field team had no mandate to look into the situation in Liban zone (Somali).

2. General Description of the Survey Area (Oromiya and Somali Regions)

Local Groups and Economy

The range lands in south-western Ethiopia form the best grazing region in the country. The higher ground and wetter pastures in the western part of this predominantly nomadic region is occupied by the Borana society. The Borana land is administered by the Borena zone of the Oromiya Regional State administration. The relatively lower ground and more arid area stretching from the Borana land border towards the east as far as the border with Kenya and Somalia is occupied by independent Somali clans administered by the Ethiopian Somali National Regional State.

The Borana are a cattle herding society. Cattle provide the primary means of subsistence for the bulk of this still predominantly nomadic society. Cattle also constitute the most valued material possession. In addition to its subsistence value, discussions about and around cattle regulate most aspects of social and political life of the Borana.

Although supplemented with small ruminants (flocks of sheep and goats), the camel is the primary stock unit raised by the Somali nomadic clans in south-western Ethiopia. Therefore, in addition to its subsistence value, among the Somalis the camel assumes similar importance as cattle in Borana society - camel related topics regulate most aspects of social and political life. However, it is important to note that cattle production has been increasing among the local clans in this region in recent decades due to environmental reasons as well as the long-standing contact with the neighboring cattle herding Borana. It is also striking to note some Borana families taking up camel breeding in addition to cattle.

Along with economic exchange, extensive cultural interchange has also been taking place between the Borana and adjacent nomadic clans for a long time. For example, many clansmen of the Garri in Moyale district of Liban zone are bilingual, speaking both Somali and Oromiffa. The social organization of the Garri and Digodia, the largest Somali groups in Liban zone, also bears notable similarities with that of the Borana.

In Borena and Somali pastoral areas in the south-west settled-agriculture is expanding. Returnees and locally displaced form the bulk of the newly settled groups, who started farming in favorable areas, mainly around trade villages.

Other than in some localized areas in both zones, rainfall in the main season was sufficient to ensure a good harvest and sufficient pasturage and water for livestock. However, uneven distribution and general scarcity of the short rains accounts as the primary problem affecting the nomadic, agro-pastoral groups and urban groups in the area at the present time.

Although water is a perennial problem affecting the nomadic groups in the south-west, Borena and Liban areas, they are endowed with traditional permanent sources of water that supply sufficient water for the local nomads during an average dry season. Given the shortage of deyr rains, the nomads will have to resort to the use of permanent deep wells earlier than expected as other sources utilized by humans and stocks before the peak of the long dry season have not been replenished. In the current dry season, shortage of water and scarcity of pasturage has been compounded by the influx of nomads from Kenya and Somalia who have to share with the local nomads these limited basic resources. Availability of water in the dry season is also of great concern to the many permanent villages in the Somali zone where villagers travel a long distance to the nearest sources of water after local sources become exhausted at the height of the dry season. For example, in Doollo and Filtu districts of Liban zone there is hardly any perennial sources of water between the two main rivers, Gennale and Dawa. Therefore, villagers in places like Filtu have to rely on water tankers from Negelle (127 kilometers) or to fetch water from a borehole at a distance of 50 kilometers, once the nearby but highly polluted local pond has dried out.


In terms of logistics, the south-west is a typical peripheral region which has suffered from historic neglect. Infrastructure is weak or not existing in many places. Nevertheless, the Liban zone of the Somali region is even more marginal and disadvantaged in many aspects than the Borena zone. Basic infrastructure and social services, however limited in the entire region, existed in the Borena zone before the introduction of self-rule in 1991. Therefore, the Borena zonal capital and zones inherited basic administrative infrastructure, while the Somali zonal capital Filtu and district towns did not inherit any established administrative infrastructure. The nearest hospital for the villagers in Filtu is in Negelle town while the nearby pond is endangering human health and not providing perennial water. Attempts made by the regional water authority to drill a borehole in Filtu failed. In 1994, water shortages in the dry season had been so acute in Filtu that the Region 5 administration provided a water tanker to transport water for human consumption from Negelle.

Of crucial importance to the predominant nomadic economy in Liban zone is the fact that SORDU (Southern Rangelands Development Unit) provided veterinary services to the livestock in both zones prior to the introduction of self-rule. Its counterpart, SERP (South East Range land Project) covered eastern parts of the country inhabited by Somali nomads. Following decentralisation and self-rule, SORDU pulled out of Liban zone and consolidated its presence in Borena zone. SERP was originally intended to serve the eastern part of the country excluding Liban zone in the south-west. The departure of SORDU thus denied Liban zone of specialized veterinary services.

In addition to the general scarcity of social services, Government authority in Liban zone is not yet effectively established, although rudimentary veterinary services are now present. Nevertheless, there is a need for strengthening veterinary and government services in Liban zone. Deficiency in livestock health care certainly poses a danger to Liban zone and communicable diseases could easily spread to Borena zone where SORDU controls epidemics and carries out livestock vaccination more effectively than it is done in Liban zone.


Uncertainty following the change of government in the middle of 1991 destabilised the area and resulted in inter-clan fighting between the nomadic groups of the Somali and Oromo nationalities living in this predominantly nomadic region. Social upheaval which pitted Borana against Somali, in 1992, greatly affected contested areas at the border between the traditional territories of the rival Borana and Somali clans, e.g. areas around Negelle and Moyale. Also in 1992, the Garri were pushed away from Moyale district as far as the border and into Kenya. The dispossessed Garri have since regrouped and reoccupied most of the territory lost to the rival Borana. In the same year, the Mare'xan Somali clan were also dislodged by the Borana from their traditional territory between Filtu and Negelle.

The relatively small Mare'xan are not strong enough to regain their grazing land from the more cohesive and larger Borana. Unlike the Garri, who hold contiguous land extending to neighbouring countries of Somalia and Kenya, the Mare'xan live isolated from their wider kinsmen in Gedo region in south-western Somalia. Though the Garri and Mare'xan were both seriously impacted by fighting with the Borana in 1992 (both were plundered of livestock and displaced) the effect on the Garri was short lived. The Mare'exan are still displaced and live scattered among neighbouring groups. They seem to be waiting for circumstances to improve to the point where they would be able to regain their lost territory by force, if no peaceful solution emerges in the meantime.

Subsequent conflict with the Borana further displaced Somalis belonging to Gurre and Mare'xan clans from their temporary settlements around Negelle. Looted of their livestock these displaced Somalis still exist at Haro near Negelle. The Filtu administration acknowledges the needs of these displaced Somalis and accordingly plans to include them in the beneficiary population scheduled to receive relief sorghum distributed by the regional DPPC. It is important that DPPC and Borena administration also consider assistance to displaced Somali groups around Negelle.

Recent conflicts affecting the influx from Kenya has been reported. In October, a conflict was reported in which 10 Digodia nomadic clansmen and 3 Borana had been killed. The clash was explained as an attempt by Borana gunmen to restrain the Digodia influx. This incident, which tested the long-standing alliance the Borana have had with the ethnically Somali Digodia clan, was soon resolved by Borana elders in collaboration with the security forces. However, animal theft is still more common in Borana controlled than in Somali areas which experienced the influx from Kenya and Somalia; partly because many of the Digodia from Kenya do not speak Oromiffa and are therefore disadvantaged. If they lose some of their animals, they find it difficult to trace them.

Because of their association with the rival Borana, the Garri clan refused to grant the Kenyan Digodia influx access to pasture and water resources in their area. Although this angered the Digodia, it is unlikely to lead to a conflict.

Uncertainty following the change of government in the middle of 1991 and the blurred ethnic and regional boundaries in this multi-ethnic region explains the instability that affected the area in 1992. This was compounded by the traditional competition for often scarce nomadic resources reinforced here by a distinction in the primary stock units raised by the camel-herding Somali and cattle-breeding Borana.

A series of official fact-finding missions, the results of which have not yet been made public but are known to the respective administrations, seems to have established tolerated de facto administrative boundaries respected by groups belonging to both nationalities. This has contributed much to the diminishing inter-ethnic conflict in this area.

3. Influx of Non-Ethiopian Nomads

Situation in Borena

Starting from July/August 1996, the south-western range lands received an influx of drought displaced nomads from adjacent pastoral regions in northeast Kenya. As explained in the EUE September report on the influx into Liban zone ( Seasonal Migration of Drought Affected Kenyan Nomads to Moyale District of the Ethiopian Somali National Regional State - Field Trip Report: 6-13 September), the main reason for the exodus from Kenya into both zones is failure of the main gu' rains. Therefore, the most important "pull factor" for the incoming Kenyan nomads is environmental. Sufficient rainfall in the guest zones in the main gu' season produced adequate pasturage and water to attract drought affected nomads from the neighbouring region across the border inhabited by same kin groups: Somali and Borana.

The influx into the Borena zone of Ethiopia consisted of both Kenyan Borana and the allied Somali Digodia clan. These two groups came mainly from Wajer and Isiolo districts of Kenya. The influx of the Digodia into Borana areas did not occur as smoothly as the influx into the Somali controlled areas of Liban zone. As mentioned above, in October 1996 a clash occurred between the incoming Digodia and the local Borana near the border on the Kenyan side. The subject of this incident is said to have been an attempt by the local Borana to contain the Digodia influx.

Reportedly, a concerted effort by the Ethiopian and Kenyan authorities managed to control this conflict. As a result, most of the looted stocks have been returned to Digodia owners. Moreover, in collaboration with the local Borana, the security forces subsequently improved the security for the Digodia influx. Nevertheless, stealing of stocks from the in-comers appears to be more frequent than in Somali controlled areas. The conflict in October and stealing stocks produced clusters of Digodia in-comers dispossessed of their herds. One such cluster was found in Shawaber in Moyale town at the time of the visit.

Situation in Liban

Liban zone, administered by the Somali Regional State, received two waves of drought affected Somali nomads from Kenya and Somalia. The main influx to the Moyale district of the zone started as early as July. The other influx of drought affected Somali nomads, mainly from Gedo region of south-west Somalia, ended up in Filtu and Doollo districts. Ethiopian military raids on Iti'xad strong holds at the border towns of Luq and Doollo in August, as well as subsequent counter attacks of regrouped Iti'xad militia against Doollo, is also said to have produced a new influx of people into Doollo Ethiopia.

Due to the failure of the main gu' rainy season, the displaced Kenyan nomads in south-western Ethiopia missed the first opportunity to return to their area of origin. On both sides of the border, the short rainy season has neither been sufficient nor evenly distributed. Unless the situation is reversed by unusual rains (October/November mark the normal end of the deyr rainy season), the majority of the guest nomads will stay in Ethiopia until the main rains commence in March or April next year.

The short rainy season is important for replenishing the natural water holes found in this region before the on-set of the deyr rains in October. At the same time, it also regenerates the depleted pasturage. Therefore, scarcity of rains has a disruptive effect on pastoralism in the region by prolonging the long dry season which under normal circumstances starts in January. At the time of the visit there was indication that some of the nomads in dry areas were moving to dry season pastures in close proximity to the permanent wells.

The condition of livestock of the in-coming nomads has been observed to be already weak. It is unlikely that many of them will survive the prolonged dry season. In contrast, livestock of the local clans appear to be in much better condition and therefore have a better chance of surviving until the onset of the main gu' rainy season. The influx aggravated the scarcity of nomadic resources resulting from insufficient deyr rains. The in-coming nomads are buying cereals from the local markets and locally produced food is moving across the border into Kenya because of higher prices there. This has resulted in an usual increase in the price of cereals on the Ethiopian side, a factor which cannot be attributed to the price increase normally observed during the dry season because of increased consumption of grains by the nomads.

Beyond the survival of the dominant nomadic groups in the region, shortage of deyr rains has wider implications for this marginal region. It means general failure of food crops produced by settled or semi-settled agro-pastoralists. And for the urban poor, who greatly depend upon food produced locally (cheaper than imported food), it also means food insecurity and possible widespread hunger until the next harvest.

The most needy groups in Borena zone are: 1) Settled agro-pastoralists who did not produce sufficient food in the main rainy season or who had exhausted their reserve for one reason or another, including returnees and locally displaced Somali groups around Negelle. 2) In-coming nomads who lost their stocks.

The most needy groups in Liban zone are: 1) In-coming nomads from Kenya and Somalia. 2) agro-pastoral returnees who have recently started farming- most of whom are found in the vicinity of permanent villages in Liban.

4. Detailed Findings on Drought Affected Weredas in Borena / Oromiya

Out of the twelve weredas in Borena zone, the DPPB in the zonal capital Negelle considers seven to be in need of relief support to different extents. The joint DPPC-CARE mission mentioned above focused its field work on six of these weredas in the lowlands: Arero, Liban, Yabelo, Teltele and - identified as the most vulnerable weredas - Dire and Moyale. The EUE mission, covering also areas in neighbouring Liban zone of Somali Region 5, made its Borena field observations in Yabelo, Moyale and Liban weredas.

While drought conditions in Moyale were obvious, the situation in Yabelo and Liban (Borena) gave at first sight less reason for concern: Recent showers, for instance, had turned fields and pasture around Yabelo town green. But according to the Southern Rangelands Development Unit (SORDU), affiliated to the local Bureau of Agriculture, the "hagaya" rains were insufficient to replenish water resources and to regenerate rangelands to a sustainable extent. While the main rainy season ("gana") had been satisfactory this year, providing 65 per cent of the normal annual rainfall, the second season ("hagaya") in October/November failed to meet the remaining needs. Overall, according to SORDU, Yabelo and adjacent weredas were short of the annual rainwater needs by 30 per cent. Despite pocket areas with good (though temporary) pasture, the rainfall pattern created generally poor rangelands conditions and the physical condition of livestock appears equally poor. Although no outbreaks of livestock diseases were recorded, there is some concern that an un-identified, viral-bacterial camel-disease (cough, mucus, loss of appetite - without treatment death after three days), reportedly affecting some areas in Somali Region, might be "imported" into Borena. Equally, fears were expressed that Rinderpest reported from Northern Kenya (Marsabit) might cross the border and affect cattle in Borena.

Crop cultivation - from all over Borena an estimated 15 percent of economic activities - has been severely affected by the shortage of rainfall. For instance, in the particularly vulnerable wereda of Dire, where normally maize and lowland teff is grown, areas such as Hidilola have this year no yield at all. The deficit in surface water is reflected by the fact that more than 70 percent of the ponds were dry at the time of the visit. Pastoralists have to move their cattle, often over long distances, to so called "elas", hand dug deep wells. While these movements usually take place from January onwards, this year the search for water started as early as October in some areas. Particularly bad in this context seems to be the situation in locations such as Mermero, El Dima and Saritti in Teltele wereda.

According to information obtained from SORDU, in all the six lowland weredas of Borena the hagaya rains were more erratic and unevenly distributed than in normal years leading to insufficient replenishment of resources. In comparative terms it has to be noted, that 1991/92 presented the last serious drought situation while the following years were recorded as having been normal/average.

At the time of the mission's visit in Yabelo (end of November) general conditions in the lowland pastoralist weredas were described as being "critical", and with the definite start of the dry season there is serious concern regarding the possibility of a major drought emergency situation with the risk of growing food insecurity. Even more serious appears to be the situation in cross-border areas in Northern Kenya, which has already led to an influx of non-Ethiopian nomads into Borena (mainly Dire and Moyale weredas).

Field Observations in Moyale (Borena)

In Moyale wereda (Borena) the mission visited several locations with seriously drought affected populations where sample interviews were conducted. One such location is Godana Jatere (population 350; part of Tilamado Kebele) some ten kilometres north-west of Moyale town. Village elders confirmed the poor hagaya rain results ("complete failure") described above and stated that, in consequence, their livelihood was severely affected. In a situation where people (including children) apparently could afford to take one meal per day only (based on maize), and where some villagers started to eat roots (called "reri", usually eaten by monkeys) without any significant nutritious value, it was claimed that in October and November nine people (five children, four adults) had died from hunger. Although it was not possible to verify this information, the observations in Godana Jatere presented a bleak picture.

Production of haricot-beans, in normal years cultivated in this area, was this time impossible due to the lack of rain. A significant part of the adult male population had left the village for an unusually long period of time with cattle and shoats in order to seek water and pasture three days away around El Gof, leaving women and children behind fearing possible tensions about resource competition with local Somali people. At a nearby "ela" it takes (at the time of the visit) eight men to get water from a very deep level to the surface (whereas under normal conditions it takes only three). Water obtained at this hand dug deep well (quality unchecked) is hardly sufficient for human consumption, let alone cattle. An easier to use permanent water well only one and a half hours walk away is situated within the Somali Region and apparently local people there are denying access to the Borana.

While Moyale-Kenya is the nearest major market for the community, the general water scarcity led to a price increase which made important food items such as maize and sorghum hardly affordable for the people of Godana Jatere, who now only have the possibility to generate income by collecting and selling firewood and producing charcoal for sale. However, the mission saw chickens roaming the village and when asked, village elders confirmed that three months ago they had started to raise chickens in order to sell eggs on the market. So far neither eggs nor chicken meat were used for consumption in the village itself. This reflects to a certain extent also the very selective food consumption patterns to which traditionally most people in the survey area adhere to, relying basically on grains, milk and occasionally meat as staple food.

Similar conditions as those found in Godana Jatere seemed to prevail in quite a number of other villages and hamlets in Moyale wereda. For instance in a location called Afura (part of Lagasure Kebele) some 20 kilometres north-west of Moyale town, where a mixed community of Digodia of both Ethiopian and Kenyan nationality live, concerns similar to those of Godana Jatere were expressed. Moreover, it was claimed that human health is deteriorating rapidly and that due to drought and poor pasture so far ten camels, 60 cattle and 200 shoats (the latter also infested by ticks) had perished. The elders in Afura pointed out that there was no river, pond or well nearby their hamlet and that the nearest water source was a distance of 12 kilometres in Tuka (four hours walk one way).

The mission visited also a group of local Borana women and their children in Shawaber at the outskirts of Moyale town and heard complaints about drought related suffering similar to those mentioned above. Furthermore, particularly among the children, symptoms of malnutrition were to be noted.

Official Facts and Figures (Moyale-Borena)

Moyale-Borena wereda has a total population of 89,000 (incl. town) in 16 Peasant Associations (PAs) and two Urban Associations. Out of these, ten PAs (with a total population of 59,198) are considered to be seriously affected by drought. While in the other PAs a number of individuals are also affected, the visiting DPPC mission, jointly with the local Early Warning Committee and Mekane Yesus, established that a total of 43,570 indigenous people in Moyale wereda were in need of relief support for six months. An official request to the respective authorities at regional and national level to restock relief supplies is being processed to assist these needy people, while an initial phase of relief food distribution (117.6 MT sorghum) has already started.

Secondly, it was stated that 9,450 Kenyan nomads (ethnic Digodia and Borena) from 45 villages across the border in the Kenyan area between Marsabit and Sololo had temporarily moved with their cattle into Moyale wereda. After the short rains were reported from Kenya, about half these nomads began returning to Kenya. That left some 4,830 Kenyan nomads in Moyale wereda at the time of the missions visit, stressing the already scarce food and pasture resources.

Another category of people requiring attention are Kenyan nomads who were looted of their cattle back home and came to Moyale-Ethiopia empty handed, devoid of property and support. These victims of looting are ethnic Digodia, while the looters were reported to be Garri. It was assessed that 627 heads of household or 3,762 individuals are affected in this category, needing food support and assistance in repatriation back to Kenya once their situation has improved. Apparently these people had sought recognition by UNHCR as violence-affected refugees or displaced people. The UNHCR representative in Moyale confirmed that from 6 to 12 November 1996, fighting took place between Digodia and Garri in the area around Sololo (Kenya) during which seven people were killed and cattle looted. Consequently, UNHCR registered, in addition to its previous numbers, 680 individuals as newly displaced persons. Including the latest figure, UNHCR Moyale is currently supporting a total number of 8671 refugees (7471 Ajurans, 1200 Digodians), with the major part of those supported people living in the Somali part of the Moyale area.

General Findings in Negelle

Driving to Negelle through Sodo and Wachile, the mission noted that pastoral conditions including the physical condition of cattle in the Wachile appeared to be - although far from excellent - not as bad as further south in Moyale and Dire weredas.

This impression was confirmed when reaching Negelle, the zonal capital of Borana, where discussions were held with representatives from the zonal branch of DPPC, Save the Children Federation US and the Italian NGO Cooperazione Internazionale (COOPI). The German agency for Technical Cooperation, GTZ (Gesellschaft für technische Zusammenarbeit), is just about to set up office in Negelle and to implement a programme supporting livestock development, management of natural resources, development of human resources and the early warning system. Negelle, having a "crop belt" around the town, is an important market and trading center, populated mainly by the Oromo groups of Borana, Arsi and Guji with a significant number of Somalis adding to the ethnic diversity.

Due to a modest agricultural production and structural problems, many areas in Borena zone suffer from chronic food deficits. This year's failure of the hagaya rains is aggravating the situation mainly in Dire and Moyale weredas. However, the Central DPPC has also concluded that household food security is at risk also in some areas of Arero (mainly displaced people due to clan conflicts over the last five years), Teltele, and Yabelo. DPPC is considering supporting 123,937 drought-affected and (unrehabilitated) displaced people including an estimated 20 per cent children below five years needing additional supplementary food in these five pastoralist lowland weredas from January to June 1997.

Borena Beneficiary Numbers
Name of Wereda  Number of Beneficiaries 
Yabelo 13,960 (drought victims) 
Dire 36,231 (drought victims) 
Teltele 13,704 (drought victims) 
Arero 7,880 (displaced, unrehabilitated) 
Moyale 52,162 (incl. 8,592 Kenyan Nomads) 
TOTAL (to be assisted Jan-June '97)  123,937
Source: DPPC Addis Ababa

5. Findings on Drought Affected Weredas in Liban / Somali

While the mission visited El Ley (33 km north-east of Moyale town) in the Somali administered wereda of Moyale, it was confirmed by members of the local administration, that although water resources are perennial, the influx of Kenyan nomads and the presence of Ethiopian nomads from other Kebeles in the district was placing the infrastructure and resources of El Ley under stress. As a result, prices for staple foods had increased considerably. At the time of the visit, the local market in El Ley, having only small quantities of consumer goods for sale, offered 1 kg of maize flour at a price of 2.5 Birr whereas prices for the same commodity are around 1.10 Birr in normal times; also, the price of sugar had increased from 5.55 Birr to 8.35 Birr per kg over the last few months.

Although generally conditions seen in El Ley seem to suggest that population and cattle are better off than their counterparts in the visited locations in Oromiya administered Moyale, officials in El Ley pointed out the need for food aid and structural assistance to increase the capacity of the water facilities in order to be able to cope better with the influx of Ethiopian and non-Ethiopian migrants. Equally expressed was the need for better measures to ensure human (upper respiratory diseases were reported) and animal health.

Similar concerns were raised in Kadaduma (located some 90 km east of Moyale town near the Kenyan border). While this Kebele is also served by wells that provide water year-round, the sources are limited to meeting human consumption needs only - the cattle had to be driven to El Ley and El Gof or to pasture grounds even further away at the Dawa river. As in El Ley, also in Kadaduma no friction between the local population and outside migrants were reported so far.

During a visit to Filtu, the capital of Somali administered Liban zone, officials claimed that three quarters of the zonal population were returnees from the neighbouring countries not being adequately rehabilitated or supported. As also stated in a letter addressed to UNDP-EUE, Filtu officials pointed out the need for support to develop agriculture structures. Currently, the Dawa and Genale rivers are under-utilised with only a few irrigation systems in place. Finally, as pointed out above, Filtu itself, being the zonal capital, has an insufficient infrastructure including lack of health and water facilities.

6. Conclusion and Recommendations

An immediate response to meet the relief needs of drought affected people in the lowland weredas of Borena, particularly in Moyale and Dire weredas is imperative. While the situation is currently within national handling capacity with food distributions starting and more stocks on the way, the area needs further close monitoring particularly given the fact that after the failure of the hagaya rains the full impact of the dry season (end of December 1996 to March 1997) remains to be seen. Higher concentrations of people and cattle competing for limited water and pasture resources might lead to a emergency situation of a larger magnitude. Preparedness measures in this respect are highly recommended.

While for the time being Borena zone of Oromiya Region appears to be more seriously affected, Liban zone of Somali Region also needs close monitoring to establish detailed requirements of the people in need of support. In this context, it is recommended that communication and coordination in Liban between the weredas and the zonal capital Filtu on one hand and between the zonal level and the regional and national levels on the other hand be strengthened and improved.

Equally, in both areas measurements should be considered to improve the general health situation. In Filtu town for instance, the mission identified serious health risks due to water born diseases since the population is using bacteria-, amoebae- and bilharzia-infested water from the one and only pond without treating the water prior to human consumption. Health education could also try to include nutritional education in order to change very selective consumption patterns (nomadic staple foods are currently grains, milk and occasionally meat) and to enrich diets in the future by growing fruits and vegetables.

Besides addressing the immediate relief requirements, meeting rehabilitation and development needs (e. g. securing more water resources, making better use of the currently under-utililised Dawa and Genale rivers, distribution of plough oxen, tools and seeds in crop cultivating areas) in order to improve food security and self reliance in the long term should be considered. In this context it is noted that (according to an article in the "Ethiopian Herald" of 16 November) Borena is about to start a programme of development projects at a total cost of 41 million Birr.

Finally, it is recommended that the respective authorities continue to monitor the influx of non-Ethiopian nomads which might aggravate competition for water and pasture resources when the full impact of the dry season is felt. In the context of a "mixed influx" (while some non-Ethiopian nomads came into the country to evade drought conditions back home, others apparently tried to avoid inter-clan-conflicts or became victims of violent cattle looting) further exchange of information with the Kenyan authorities and agencies working on the Kenyan side of the border might be useful.


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