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. 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, northern Kenya, and southeastern Ethiopia.
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. 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.
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. Reports indicate that if rain does not arrive by the end of March 2000, the belg season will be considered a failure. 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 people affected by drought and war 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 internally displaced persons (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.
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 (EMOP) 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 an estimated 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.
Since mid-February, widespread outbreaks of forest fires were reported in Sidamo Zone, Southern People's region (SNNPR), and in the Bale Mountains, located in Oromiya region. The fires burned approximately 70,000 or more hectares of forestland. However, last week the Ethiopian press reported that the fires were under control, due in part to fire experts who helped the local population implement appropriate response actions.
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 proposed emergency operations are presently under review by WFP Rome. (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. 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. Unconfirmed reports indicate that increased numbers of Somalis are crossing into Ethiopia from Bakool Region in search of better conditions or assistance. While a relatively favorable harvest has benefited irrigated areas near the Juba and Shabelle rivers in southern Somalia, the deyr season was almost a total failure in the drought-affected areas of Gedo, Bakool, Hiran, and Bay. FEWS reports that deyr production in Bakool was estimated at 113 MT, approximately 5% of the post-war average. As a result of nutritional assessments conducted during the month of February, UNICEF reported a malnutrition rate of 30% in the town of Rab-Dure, with high case numbers of diarrhea and acute respiratory illness among children. An inter-agency mission that included FEWS conducted an assessment of Gedo in February. Results indicated that the risk of famine in the area is low, but concerns remain the potential for increased malnutrition and losses of assets such as livestock. Insecurity and poor infrastructure also continue to constrain the delivery of food aid.
Kenya: Reports indicate that in response to WFP's current EMOP requirement of 75,015 MT of food aid, a total of 73,234 MT have been pledged by donors to date, excluding cash contributions. Once received, this amount of aid should sufficiently fill needs in the highest priority districts. Turkana district, located in northwestern Kenya, remains the most affected, with an estimated 250,000 people at risk. The estimated drought-affected population in Kenya is 2,744,580, covering parts of 24 districts. WFP's appeal focuses on the nine (9) most drought-affected districts. WFP's estimated commodity tonnage requirement is 70,015 and the total USG response to date is estimated at 33,397 MT. The Emergency Response (ER) office of USAID/Office of Food for Peace (FFP) has approved 13,397 MT of corn, pulses, and vegetable oil valued at $7,746,400. The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has pledged 20,000 MT of maize.
Djibouti: 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.
USAID's Bureau for Humanitarian Response Assistant Administrator Hugh Parmer visited several countries in the Horn of Africa over the past two weeks to assess drought conditions and current needs, as well as to determine USG assistance for drought-affected populations. Assistant Administrator Parmer and other USG representatives met with Ethiopian officials on March 13 before traveling to the Somali and Amhara regions on March 14-16. The team's observations were consistent with other reports received to date, including significant losses of livestock, prominent malnutrition, and extreme water shortages. In the town of Gode (population 47,000), Parmer's team learned that 61 people, including 45 children under 5 years of age, have reportedly died in the past fifteen days.
On March 16, Assistant Administrator Parmer announced the contribution of an airlift containing 10 MT of therapeutic milk and 30 MT of high-protein biscuits to benefit malnourished children in the Gode Zone for a period of three months. The airlift, which took place on March 24, is valued at approximately $300,000.
On March 23, USAID/BHR/OFDA deployed a water and sanitation specialist to Ethiopia to assess the water/sanitation situation in drought-affected areas, identify needs, and coordinate appropriate response activities.
The USG plans to donate 400,000 MT of food assistance to Ethiopia during CY 2000. To date, USAID/FFP/ER has approved over 94,750 MT of PL 480 Title II emergency food valued at more than $41million 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 USDA is currently procuring 90,000 MT of wheat in repayment of the GFDRE Emergency Food Security Reserve, which has reached a critically low level of under 50,000 MT. The first shipment is currently scheduled to arrive in late April.
In addition to an earlier commitment of 63,000 MT of wheat, the USDA recently approved a contribution of 135,000 MT of wheat and 2900 MT of soy oil for Ethiopia through WFP. Of the 135,000 MT committed, 115,000 have already been called forward. (This assistance was not a government-to-government contribution as previously reported.)
USAID/BHR/OFDA 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 months. USAID/BHR/OFDA also provided $592,577 to SCF/US to support an emergency water, nutrition, and local capacity building program targeting pastoralists in Gode Zone.
On March 3, USAID/BHR/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/BHR/OFDA provided $12,000 to deploy the expert to Ethiopia.
The GFDRE is reportedly allocating $43 million (a correction from the previously reported amount of $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.
The USDA has allocated the delivery of 37,000 MT of Section 416(b) wheat for Eritrea, of which 19,500 MT will be allocated to the GSE for replenishment of its grain reserve. The remaining 17,500 MT have been committed to WFP against the 2000 UNCT appeal.
USAID/BHR/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/BHR/OFDA plans to support additional health/nutrition, water/sanitation, and shelter programs to assist war and drought-affected populations in Eritrea.
In response to the drought, USAID/BHR/OFDA is finalizing plans to support a program for primary health care and nutrition assistance in Bakool Region. USAID/BHR/OFDA is also in discussions with organizations to implement water projects in Bakool. In collaboration with REDSO/Somalia, USAID/BHR/OFDA is closely monitoring the ongoing humanitarian situation in the country.
In support of the emergency program for Somalia, USAID/BHR/FFP has contributed 18,000 MT of food assistance valued at approximately $10,900,000.
Kenya: In FY 2000 to date, USAID/BHR/OFDA has provided $11,500 to WFP to improve targeting and distribution of food aid in Kenya in addition to the initial $25,000 provided for immediate response activities due to the drought. USAID/BHR/OFDA has also provided a grant of $372,000 to World Vision to support the delivery of relief commodities to drought victims in the district of Turkana.
In response to WFP's EMOP, USAID/BHR/FFP/ER has approved 12,500 MT of maize, pulses, and vegetable oil that will be distributed in nine of Kenya's hardest-hit districts. The total amount of this operation is valued at approximately $7,750,000.
The USDA has committed 20,000 MT of corn for Kenya through the EMOP launched by WFP.
Djibouti: At this time, USAID/BHR/OFDA is closely monitoring the humanitarian situation in drought-affected areas in collaboration with its regional office in Nairobi.
USAID/BHR/OFDA Assistance (FY 2000 to date) : $2,063,077
USAID/BHR/FFP/ER Assistance (FY 2000 to date)*: $60,297,700
Total USAID Assistance (FY 2000 to date): $62,360,777
*The USAID/BHR/FFP figures in this bulletin include assistance to both drought-affected and IDPs.