Djibouti + 5 more

Horn of Africa Drought Information Bulletin #2 (FY 2000)

The Horn of Africa is currently facing a humanitarian crisis of serious proportions. Drought is the primary cause for the current food crisis in the Horn of Africa. Factors underlying the crisis include the cumulative effects of poor and unreliable rainfall and other shocks which have eroded assets and coping strategies over recent years. The worst drought-affected populations are pastoralists in southern and eastern Ethiopia, Somalia, and northern Kenya. Conflict and insecurity have exacerbated the current humanitarian situation in the Horn of Africa. Intense fighting erupted between Ethiopia and Eritrea in May 1998 along contested border areas and flared again in February 1999. The border clashes have disrupted trade and economic activity and affected humanitarian access to vulnerable populations on both sides of the border. On February 23, 2000, renewed border fighting was reported along the eastern front. The fighting, which occurred despite ongoing US-supported diplomatic efforts to break the stalemate in peace efforts, receded quickly. Ongoing civil strife in Sudan and Somalia also continues to exacerbate the humanitarian situation and impede relief efforts. The Nairobi-based Drought Monitoring Center has forecast below normal rains for the March

  • May season in the eastern parts of the Horn, including most of Somalia, eastern Kenya, and southeastern Ethiopia.

Numbers Affected

In total, an estimated 15 million people are at risk of food insecurity in the Horn of Africa in calendar year (CY) 2000. Ethiopia faces the most severe crisis, with 8.1 million people currently at risk. An additional 2.6 million Ethiopians are at risk if the March - May harvest fails. Between 580,000 - 850,000 Eritreans are also vulnerable during CY 2000, primarily due to the ongoing Eritrea-Ethiopia conflict. (Approximately 100,000 people have been reportedly killed, wounded, or captured in the border conflict, and about 700,000 people have been displaced in both countries.) Approximately 1.2 million people in Somalia are at risk of food insecurity in CY 2000. In addition, an estimated 780,000 people in Kenya are at risk in the coming months due to prolonged drought. Despite an overall improvement in humanitarian conditions in Sudan, about 1.7 million people, mostly in the southern sector, are expected to require food assistance in CY 2000. According to assessments conducted in late 1999, between 80,000 - 100,000 people in Djibouti will be in need of food relief in the coming months.

Current Situation


In Ethiopia, recurrent drought has resulted in low-yielding harvests of the 1998 - 1999 major (meher) growing season, as well as several poor harvests of the secondary (belg) season. Tigray and Amhara regions, as well as pastoral zones in Oromiya and Somali regions, are particularly hard hit. Gode and Afder zones, located in the southeastern Somali Region, have received inadequate rainfall for the past three years, resulting in high rates of malnutrition, severe water shortages, and a significant loss of livestock and other assets. More than 57,000 people in Gode Zone have out-migrated in search of food and water. In some pastoral areas, up to 90% of cattle and 65% of goats are reportedly dying from lack of food and water.

On January 21, the Government of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia's (GFDRE) Disaster Prevention and Preparedness Committee (DPPC) launched its appeal for emergency assistance in CY 2000. The appeal estimated that some 7.7 million war-affected people would need food assistance. In addition, an estimated 350,000 people displaced as a result of the conflict with Eritrea would need continuing assistance in CY 2000. Most of the IDPs are living with host families in Tigray Region, while some continue to live along the border. In total, the DPPC expects 8.1 million people will require food assistance amounting to 898,936 metric tons (MT) in CY 2000, an increase of over 200,000 MT from the previous year. Current food aid requirements are expected to increase if the belg rains fail, affecting an additional 2.6 million Ethiopians. USAID/Famine Early Warning Systems (FEWS) estimates that two-thirds of the current beneficiaries in the major belg-producing areas (e.g. southern Tigray, northern Amhara, and southern Oromiya) may require assistance into the next year.

In addition to food, the DPPC appeal highlighted various non-food assistance requirements in the water supply, health, and veterinary care sectors. Outbreaks of bloody diarrhea and measles are already being reported in the drought stricken Somali and Amhara regions. The risk of other disease outbreaks, such as meningitis and malaria, also remains high.

On January 28, the UN Country Team (UNCT) in Ethiopia issued a $190 million appeal in support of the DPPC appeal. On February 25, the UN World Food Program (WFP) approved a $137 million emergency operation to feed 2.3 million victims of natural disasters in Ethiopia from April - December. A total of 250,000 MT of food aid is required for this operation.

According to recent USAID assessments, the most critical humanitarian issue in Ethiopia is the lack of infrastructure and resources to effectively monitor, deliver, and target relief assistance. The port of Djibouti has a monthly import capacity of 100,000 -120,000 MT of bulk commodities. In addition, the estimated capacity for in-country distribution is only 100,000 MT per month. This effort would require that the GFDRE give priority to the movement of relief commodities. Insecurity also continues to impact humanitarian access and response efforts in many drought and war-affected populations in Ethiopia.

Due to the extended dry season, widespread outbreaks of forest fires have been reported in Sidamo Zone, Southern People's region (SNNPRS), and in the Bale Mountains, located in Oromiya region. The fires have reportedly burned 50,000 or more hectares of forestland since mid-February and are spreading fast, beyond the ability of up to 50,000 volunteers who are trying to respond. The GFDRE has specifically asked for assistance for planes/helicopters, aerial fire-extinguishing operations, and technical and material assistance.


On January 28, the UNCT launched its appeal for humanitarian assistance in Eritrea in CY 2000. The appeal covers emergency needs for more than 583,000 Eritreans, comprising 372,000 war-affected and 211,000 drought-affected persons, at a cost of $43 million. (The Government of the State of Eritrea (GSE) estimates the total beneficiary level at 850,000 individuals, over 20% of the total population.) War-affected populations in Eritrea include IDPs, rural deportees, and host communities especially affected by the influx of IDPs. Most IDPs are located in Gash Barka and Debub (Southern) provinces. Drought-affected areas include the Anseba and Northern and Southern Red Sea regions. These areas have suffered two years of crop failure due to inadequate rains. The UNCT appeal, which responds to a GSE request for assistance, includes a requirement for approximately 63,000 MT of food aid for a twelve-month period. (The GSE has requested 129,000 MT of food aid). While emergency food aid needs for January/February have been partially met, there is a serious gap in available resources to meet needs in March/April. Current non-food priorities include shelter, water, health, nutrition, and food production.


In Somalia, drought and continued clan-based fighting have led to decreased coping ability and increased displacement. An estimated 1.2 million people are at risk in Somalia in CY 2000 and require 70,000 MT of food commodities through the end of the year. (The WFP Food Security Assessment Unit estimates 526,000 vulnerable persons in southern and central Somalia will require over 14,200 MT of food aid during the January - April period alone.) Among the worst affected areas is Bakool region, where almost 50% of the population, mostly pastoralists, are considered in need of assistance. Other affected areas include Bay and Gedo regions. A relatively favorable harvest has benefited irrigated areas near the Juba and Shabelle rivers in southern Somalia. Insecurity and poor infrastructure remain the main constraints hindering access and response efforts throughout Somalia. For instance, the recent looting of food by clan militia precipitated the temporary suspension of food distribution in Bakool region. In light of this and other incidents, WFP, CARE, the European Union, and USAID will soon review food aid logistics in Somalia with a view to making transport more secure and cost effective.


In Kenya, WFP has approved a $43.4 million emergency operation to provide 38,000 MT of food to an estimated 780,000 people in nine districts during the February - June period. Turkana district, located in northwestern Kenya, remains the most affected, with an estimated 250,000 people at risk. Other affected districts include Marsabit, Moyale, and Mandera. The main constraints impeding relief assistance include limited access to affected areas and inadequate targeting.

The humanitarian situation in Sudan remains relatively stable due to a favorable 1999 growing season. Surplus food production is expected in Western Equatoria. However, an estimated 1.7 million people, mostly in the southern sector, will require 64,000 MT of relief food through the end of the year. According to WFP, areas of greatest concern include northern Bahr el Ghazal and Western Upper Nile regions. USAID/FEWS reports high malnutrition rates have been identified in Bor County (Jonglei region), parts of Twic County (Bahr el Ghazal region), and Nimule and Labone displaced camps (Eastern Equatoria region). In late 1999, a joint WFP and Djibouti Government's Drought Assessment Mission indicated that 80,000 - 100,000 people, mostly located along the country's border with Ethiopia, will be in urgent need of food relief in the coming six months.

USG Assistance


USAID/BHR Assistant Administrator Hugh Parmer is scheduled to travel to the Horn of Africa in mid-March to assess the current conditions of the regional drought, review the logistical infrastructure for movement of humanitarian commodities, and discuss upcoming needs and the USG response for drought-affected populations. Mr. Parmer will meet with personnel from the regional USAID missions, host country agencies, the UN, and NGOs during the visit.

The USG plans to donate 585,000 MT of food assistance to the Horn of Africa region during CY 2000. To date, USAID/Office for Food for Peace (FFP) has provided 76,690 MT of PL 480 Title II emergency food valued at approximately $29 million to Ethiopia through WFP, Catholic Relief Services (CRS), CARE, Save the Children (SCF)/US, World Vision, and a local NGO (Relief Society of Tigray). In addition, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) is currently procuring 90,000 MT as repayment to the GFDRE Emergency Food Security Reserve, which has reached a critically low level of under 50,000 MT.

The USDA recently approved a government-to-government contribution of 135,000 MT of food aid commodities for Ethiopia.

On October 8, 1999, US Ambassador to Ethiopia Tibor P. Nagy renewed the FY 2000 disaster declaration for Ethiopia as a result of the continued deterioration of household food security in many areas of the country and the inability of the GFDRE to respond adequately.

In response, USAID/OFDA has approved $150,000 to the UN Development Program (UNDP) to assist in countrywide drought monitoring and emergency coordination efforts. In addition, USAID/OFDA recently approved a $600,000 grant to WFP to increase the capacity of the port of Djibouti, which will assist in the delivery of food aid to Ethiopia in the coming weeks. USAID/OFDA also provided $592,577 to SCF/US to support an emergency water, nutrition, and local capacity building program targeting pastoralists in Gode Zone.

USAID/OFDA, in conjunction with USAID/Ethiopia, has identified agriculture, water/sanitation, health/nutrition, logistics capacity, and monitoring/coordination as priority non-food needs in Ethiopia this year.

On March 3, USAID/OFDA deployed a technical expert to assess the impact of the forest fires in southern Ethiopia, provide technical assistance to the GFDRE, and make recommendations for additional response, if necessary. USAID/OFDA provided $12,000 to deploy the expert to Ethiopia.

The GFDRE is reportedly allocating $31 million for the local purchase of 100,000 MT of grain against the UNCT appeal for 898,000 MT to meet the needs of drought-affected populations. This assistance is expected to significantly reduce the pipeline gap in the critical March-April period. Commercial imports are projected to be negligible in the near future.


The USDA has allocated the delivery of 37,000 MT of 416(b) food commodities for Eritrea, as well as 50,000 MT for Sudan and 20,000 MT for Kenya. Of the 37,000 MT donation, the USDA will allocate 19,500 MT to the GSE for replenishment of its grain reserve and 17,500 MT to WFP against the 2000 UNCT appeal.

On October 18, 1999, the US Ambassador to Eritrea William Clarke renewed the FY 2000 disaster declaration due to the unresolved border conflict and a prevailing drought in eastern Eritrea.

USAID/OFDA is supporting ongoing health, nutrition, and shelter activities to assist war and drought-affected populations in Eritrea through grants obligated in FY 1999. These grants were provided to Africare and UNICEF and totaled $976,000. In FY 2000, USAID/OFDA plans to support additional health/nutrition, water/sanitation, and shelter programs to assist war and drought-affected populations in Eritrea.

In addition to the UNICEF and Africare grants, USAID/OFDA provided approximately $194,000 in FY 1999, primarily through the GSE's Eritrean Relief and Refugee Commission (ERREC). These funds were used to dispatch urgently-needed relief items to border areas. ERREC continues to effectively respond to and coordinate donor response efforts in Eritrea.


On October 28, 1999, US Ambassador to Kenya Johnnie Carson renewed the FY 2000 disaster declaration in Somalia in light of current and projected needs. In response, USAID/OFDA is considering support for health and water projects in Bakool Region, and, in collaboration with USAID staff in Nairobi, is closely monitoring the ongoing humanitarian situation in the country.

USAID/OFDA FY 1999 funding to Somalia totaled $5.8 million and focused on the provision of health services, water/sanitation, seed distribution and multiplication, and air transport support.


In FY 2000 to date, USAID/OFDA has provided $25,000 in International Disaster Assistance funds for immediate drought response efforts in Kenya, following a disaster declaration by Ambassador Carson on December 6, 1999. USAID/OFDA also has provided $11,500 to WFP to improve targeting and distribution of food aid in Kenya. Additional USAID/OFDA funding will support distribution of Government of Kenya food aid in Turkana, as well as nutrition and water projects in other drought-affected districts.

In FY 1999, USAID/OFDA provided $1.1 million to Kenya, primarily to support mitigation activities in the areas of health, water/sanitation, animal health and restocking, and food distribution and production.

USAID/OFDA continues to respond to the ongoing complex emergency throughout Sudan, focusing on chronically food insecure areas in the south. Road rehabilitation activities funded by USAID/OFDA have significantly improved access and reduced relief operation costs in southern Sudan.

However, the Sudan Relief and Rehabilitation Association, the relief arm of the Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A), continues to insist that all NGOs sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) by March 1, 2000, or face expulsion from SPLM/A-controlled areas. Some NGOs who have opposed the MOU have begun to withdraw staff and assets from southern Sudan. The abrupt departure of NGOs from southern Sudan could seriously jeopardize ongoing humanitarian operations.

At this time, USAID/OFDA is not funding any activities in Djibouti but is closely monitoring the humanitarian situation in drought-affected areas, in collaboration with USAID field staff.

USAID staff have and continue to participate in various assessments in drought-affected areas in the Horn of Africa, including Ethiopia.

In response to longer term food security challenges of pastoralists in the Horn, USAID staff in Ethiopia, Kenya, and Somalia are collaboratively developing a Southern Tier proposal under the Greater Horn of Africa Initiative. USAID programs throughout the Horn will also continue to support approaches that address the root causes of food insecurity.

USAID/BHR/OFDA Assistance (FY 2000 to date): $1,391,077
USAID/BHR/FFP Assistance (FY 2000 to date): $29,000,000

Total USAID Assistance (FY 2000 to date): $30,391,077