Burundi + 4 more

Eastern Africa: Regional drought response DREF Bulletin No. MDR64001



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In Brief


The situation

An estimated 11 million people or more are facing serious food shortages in East Africa and the Horn of Africa due to severe drought coupled with the effects of past and/or ongoing conflicts. The short October to February rains normally provide water and pasture feeding at a critical time of year, interrupting the long dry season ahead of the main March to May rains. When the short rains fail, livestock face an extended dry season. This year the short rains season is considered particularly vital because of the successive rainfall failures in recent years, which had adversely affected the food security of pastoralists and agro pastoralists in the East and Horn of Africa. Among the affected countries are Ethiopia, Djibouti, Tanzania, Rwanda, Uganda and Burundi.


About 1.7 million people are facing food insecurity and require assistance in Ethiopia as a result of the prevailing drought. In addition to this, there are about 638,000 people who are in dire need of water. In total, some 2.6 million people in Ethiopia are in need of emergency food assistance. The onset of the dry season (January to March) is expected to worsen the situation. Overall, more than 8 million people in Ethiopia rely on food assistance in both relief and safety net programmes. Already there have been widespread human and livestock migrations and tribal conflicts over scarce resources. There is an increase in the number of livestock deaths, the slaughtering of calves to save cows and a decrease in the production of livestock products such as milk. Crop wilting in agro-pastoral areas, malnutrition and reports of child deaths are also some of the post-famine conditions being witnessed. The most critical areas in Somali region remain Liben, Afder and parts of Gode zones, where both the last "Gu"-rains (March- May) and "Deyr"-rains (October-December) have largely failed. The food security situation also remains critical in Borena zone of Oromiya Region. The most affected areas in Borena zone are Teltele, Moyale and Dire districts. The failure of the last "Hagaya" rainy season and the effects of recurrent droughts have depleted household assets and the household capacity to face shocks. The availability of pasture and water remains poor and this has resulted in stress migration of the affected pastoral households. The situation is further aggravated by influx of large number of households with their livestock from northern Kenya that has created pressure on the already scant resources. Ethiopia is in the Emergency category according to the Famine Early Warning System Network (FEWS NET).


Nearly 150,000 people, almost one-fifth of Djibouti's population, are estimated to be facing food shortages. Food insecurity in rural areas has worsened due to delayed and poor rains during the main July-September and October - February seasons. Water is becoming scarce, and livestock deaths have been reported in some areas. The situation is particularly serious in the northwest and southeast border pastoral zones. The minister for home affairs has in the latest development appealed for international assistance to save the affected populations. Djibouti is currently classified in the warning category by FEWS NET, but could easily slip into the emergency category.


In Burundi, according to some unconfirmed media reports at least 120 people have died (in the northeastern province of Muyinga) and thousands of others have fled to neighboring provinces or countries due to food shortages brought on by drought prevailing in northern and eastern parts of the country, local officials have said. Other affected regions include the Eastern province of Karuzi and Ruyingi. A total of 2,500 people in Ruyigi Province have crossed to Tanzania since December 2005, with some 771 of these had settled in a refugee camp in Kigoma, a region in the west of Tanzania. Cassava crop disease, delayed and erratic rainfalls and bad second 2005 harvest have worsened the situation. According to the World Food Programme, (reported by Relief Web), many people in Burundi are dying because they lack the money to buy food or pay for medical care when they became ill. Admissions to therapeutic centers were on the rise. By the end of December 2005, 80 cases of malnutrition were recorded at the Muyinga therapeutic centre, including five adults suffering from the protein deficiency, kwashiorkor. In mid-January 2006, 40 cases were recorded, in addition to 128 others previously recorded. In 16 supplementary feeding centers in Muyinga, 275 admissions were recorded, bringing the total to 2,667. The drought in Muyinga has also forced 3,926 children to abandon school following physical weakness due to food shortages.


Tanzania is listed by FEWS NET as one of the affected countries due to delayed rains which shortened growing season in North, North East and North Coast. Crop failure is reported at 80 percent in 2 northern districts. An aassessment in August 2005 by the government revealed 594,503 people in 34 districts were facing acute food shortages. The prize of maize grain trebled from October 2005.

Apart from its own citizens who are affected by the drought, Tanzania is dealing with 349,331 food insecure registered refugees from Burundi, who are being fed by the World Food Programme (WFP) in refugee camps in the west. WFP faces a short fall of 40,271 tonnes (USD 23.6 million) if it has to feed the refugees up to the end of December 2006. It has also been confirmed that more than 200 Burundians arrived at Ngara from Burundi allegedly due to drought and hunger in their country. The Burundians were not granted refugee status by local authorities since they fled from lack of access to food in Burundi. Instead, they were all sent back to Burundi.


Rwanda is in the "watch" category according to FEWS NET. Food stocks from late 2005 harvests are depleted. Below-normal production for early 2006 harvest is expected in three provinces. The situation in the Chronic Congo Nile Ridge food economy zone has been worsened by low rains. Temporary migration to the urban areas in search of casual labour has been reported, while a foot and mouth diseases outbreak in Bugaragara and Gabiro districts of Umutara Province is worsening situation. At the same time WFP pipeline deficit has been projected at about 8,000 metric tonnes (MT).


Uganda is in the warning category by FEWS NET. The minister for Water and Natural Resource, Mr. Kahinda, said that drought had already affected 29 districts, including the chief cattle-producing districts, where animals are dying. Water levels in Lake Victoria have dropped and food crops been affected, he said. The current drought in particular in Karamoja (in the north east) is complicating the food security situation facing over 1.4 million internally displaced people (IDP) and is set to continue until mid-March 06. Meteorologists say the current drought in Uganda, which is caused by the convergence of dry winds from the Sahara and the Arabian Peninsula, is likely to worsen and want the government to prepare the country for the effects of the harsh weather. The drought, according to the meteorologists, could have a major impact on the country's agricultural sector.

The current East Africa food crisis continues to drive up prices in Ugandan markets. Local Ugandan press is attributing the hike in prices to cross-border trade as Kenyan and Tanzanian traders buy up Ugandan supplies in an attempt to meet demand in drought-stricken East Africa. The price of maize is reported to have risen by at least 200% in many parts of Lira district, northern Uganda. The situation in the camps is already beyond critical as there are severely malnourished children and tens of thousands of people in desperate need of humanitarian assistance.

For information please contact:

In Burundi: Katiyunguruza Anselme, Secretary General, Burundi Red Cross, Bujumbura; Email: croixrougeburundi2000@yahoo.fr; Phone +; Fax +

In Djibouti: Abdi Kaireh Bouh, Secretary General, Red Crescent Society of Djibouti, Djibouti; Email: crd@intnet.dj; Phone +; Fax +

In Eritrea: Sister Alganesh Kidane, Secretary General, Red Cross Society of Eritrea, Asmara; Email: rcse6@eol.com.er; Phone +; Fax +

In Ethiopia: Takele Jemberu, Acting Secretary General, Ethiopian Red Cross Society, Addis Ababa; Email: ercs@ethionet.et; Phone +251.11.515.38.53; Fax +251.11.551.26.43

In Kenya: Abbas Gullet, Secretary General, Kenya Red Cross Society, Nairobi; Email: gullet.abbas@kenyaredcross.org; Phone +; Fax +

In Kenya: Col. Nur Hassan Hussein, Secretary General, Somali Red Crescent Society, Nairobi; Email: srcsnai@bishacas.org ; Phone +; Fax +

In Rwanda: Karamanga Apollinaire, Secretary General, Rwandan Red Cross, Kigali; Email: rrc@rwandatel1.com; Phone +, +; Fax +

In Tanzania: Adan Kimbisa, Secretary General, Tanzania Red Cross Society, Dar-es-Salaam; Email: logistics@raha.com; Phone +; Fax +

In Uganda: Alice Anukur, Secretary General, Uganda Red Cross Society, Kampala Email : sgurcs@redcrossug.org; Phone + ; Fax ; +

In Ethiopia: John Undulu, Acting Federation Head of Sub-regional Office for the Horn of Africa, Addis Ababa: Email: john.undulu@ifrc.org; Phone +251.11.551.43.17; Fax +251.11.551.28.88

In Kenya: Esther Okwanga, Federation Head of East Africa Sub-Regional Office, Nairobi; Email: esther.okwanga@ifrc.org; Phone +; Fax +

In Geneva: Amna Al Ahmar, Federation Regional Officer for East Africa, Africa Dept.; Email: amna.alahmar@ifrc.org; Phone +41.22.730.44.27; Fax +41.22.733.03.95

All International Federation assistance seeks to adhere to the Code of Conduct for the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO's) in Disaster Relief and is committed to the Humanitarian Charter and Minimum Standards in Disaster Response (Sphere) in delivering assistance to the most vulnerable.

For longer-term programmes in this or other countries or regions, please refer to the Federation's Annual Appeal. For support to or for further information concerning Federation programmes or operations in this or other countries, or for national society profiles, please also access the Federation's website at http://www.ifrc.org

MAP: Eastern Africa: Regional drought response

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