Focus on Ethiopia - Feb 2006
Of the identified 1.7 million beneficiaries in the critically affected pastoral and agro-pastoral areas of the country, 1.5 million are in Somali Region. In this region there are 640,000 people that require emergency water interventions. The most affected zones are Afder, Liben and parts of Gode zone.
Even though the humanitarian emergency has received attention from the government and humanitarian partners since late 2005, interventions still could not avert the situation from deteriorating. The situation is expected to become further perilous with the advancing dry jilal season (January-March) and with the poor gu rain forecast of the National Metrological Services. Worrying indications of an escalating emergency such as increasing mortality of livestock, malnutrition, and sky-rocketing prices of staple food prevail. The situation has forced significant numbers of people to resort to extreme distress strategies of street begging, over-selling of basic assets, slaughtering of weak animals and killing of calves to cope up with the disaster. The closure of local schools following the low attendance rate is another social consequence of the drought. Wild animals are violently attacking people and livestock in parts of Gode and Korahe. This is triggered by the competition for the scarce water and other resources.
The livestock situation particularly in the three zones (Afder, Liben and Gode) is critical. Massive cattle deaths are reported from the three woredas. The death of 35,000 and 45,000 livestock is reported in Liben and Afder zones respectively. A serious shortage of feed and water coupled with increasing outbreaks of animal disease are causing the deaths. The situation is aggravated by the cross border migration of livestock from Kenya and Somalia. Competition for the scarce resources-water and pasture has already led to serious clan conflict, particularly in Geladin woreda (Warder zone) and Bare woreda (Afder zone).
All nutritional surveys conducted in the region, especially in Gode, Afder and Liben, so far reveal critical malnutrition with high under five mortality rates. Diarrhea is the main causes of death for children under five. Vaccination rates remain below international standards and should be further improved through regular vaccination and supplementation campaigns by the health bureau. Access to health facilities is very poor in most woredas. Hygiene practices are also extremely poor. Meanwhile, an emergency measles campaign (integrated with EOS) is underway in 25 woredas, aiming to reach 313,663 under-five children. As expected, the challenges to attain the necessary coverage are substantial and a preliminary coverage assessment will be done as soon as possible to determine whether follow-up actions will be necessary. A measles campaign integrated with polio in the 26 non-EOS woredas is scheduled to commence on 24 March. A house to house polio campaign for the region is scheduled for 24 March.
The Disaster Preparedness and Prevention Agency (DPPA) continues to dispatch emergency food aid for 1.5 million people. WFP reports that the food dispatches during January and early February have not been as fast as planned due to limited transport capacity. In order to increase the dispatch rate, DPPA has engaged their emergency transport fleet, and the Road Transport Authority is coordinating the commercial transport fleet for priority loads to the drought-affected areas. As of 6 March, the DPPA has completed transporting 21,395 tonnes (74%) of food from the food allocations of 29,100 tonnes made in January. WFP is providing a full food basket and supplementary food for 35 percent of beneficiaries regarded as the most vulnerable groups in the region. DPPA has now taken additional measures in order to ensure delivery of relief food to the intended beneficiaries. These measures include regular radio broadcasts informing beneficiaries of food allocations and their entitlements, deployment of DPPA monitoring teams to the worst drought-affected areas, deployment of military convoys to follow trucks carrying relief food to particular "hotspot" areas, and the establishment of committees at woreda level to control the receipt of food. WFP has increased its monitoring capacity by hiring new food aid monitors and field assistants.
Thirty percent of the water schemes are not functioning and there is an immediate need to rehabilitate them. The Ministry of Water Resources has identified 50 sites for emergency drilling, 20 of which were set as priorities. Competitive bidding has begun and the budget is secured. Somali DPPB identified 42 hotspot areas (recently increased from 39) for water tankering. The region has now deployed 20 trucks for tankering and preparation is completed to deploy additional 18 trucks. Humanitarian partners including UNICEF, ICRC, ACF and OXFAM GB have deployed 59 water trucks to provide tankering activities.
There is need to focus on saving livestock as it is the base asset of the pastoralist and agro-pastoralist population of the region. The USAID led Pastoralist Livelihood Initiatives' (PLI) de-stocking plan proposes to hold 60,000 shoats and 4,000 cattle affected by drought in six sites, providing them with feed. Other partners including FAO, ICRC, IRC, and Save the Children USA are actively involved in livestock interventions such as vaccination and treatment.
The United Nations Country Team's Recovery Programme moved the last caseload of IDPs comprising approximately 1,414 individuals (237 Households) from Fafen camp to Degehabur zone in the region. The strategy aims at repatriating and reintegrating 6,000 IDPs from Hartisheik and Fafen camps to their place of origin in Somali Region.
IDPs from other zones in Somali Region still remain in the two camps. The UNCT is now looking at post return activities especially livelihood strategies and interventions to ensure the sustenance reintegration of the IDPs in Degehabur.
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