Eritrea: Humanitarian update - Feb 2007

Situation Report
Originally published

Teleconference with the Special Humanitarian Envoy (SE)

On February 23rd, a teleconference between OCHA NY, OCHA Eritrea and the Special Humanitarian Envoy (SE) in Norway took place. During the teleconference the HC gave an update of the state of humanitarian affairs in Eritrea, including the good 2006 harvest, the cash-for-work meeting with the Ministry of National Development and the 2007 CHAP. The three priorities targeted for resource mobilization put forward by the UNCT are Neo-Natal mortality, IDPs and Food Security. The SE informed OCHA on the proceedings of the consultative process on food security in the Horn of Africa. A meeting on food security strategy was held in Rome in the third week of February, Eritrea did not attend. The next meeting with all countries concerned is scheduled to take place in Nairobi - Kenya from 25-26 June 2007. The tentative schedule for the visit of the Humanitarian Envoy to Eritrea is 22 -23 June 2007.

Health and Nutrition assessment in Anseba and Gash Barka regions

WHO and the Ministry of Health carried out a rapid health and nutrition emergency assessment in Anseba and Gash Barka regions. OCHA joined the partners on this field visit. The European Commission for Humanitarian Operations (ECHO) has expressed interest in funding a pilot emergency health project in these areas. 16 Villages in both regions were identified and inspected. The overall health and nutrition conditions were below standard in all villages and need immediate attention. Most of the health facilities were out of stock of basic drugs and medical supplies from November 2006 to January 2007. OCHA interviewed the local peasants concerning the current harvest. The overall impression was that, compared to last year's harvest, this year's crop is larger. However, due to the lack of a joint MoA, WFP and FAO crop and food supply assessment, it is difficult to make a comparison between the 2005 and the 2006 harvest.


UNICEF organized two field visits to assess access to health services, nutrition, education and protection services including Mine Risk Education (MRE) among the re-settled IDPs in both Gash Barka and Debub regions. The first field visit covered to the villages of Girme, Elala, Shehate and Folina in Gash Barka region from 25 to 28 February, and the villages of Senafe, Adikeyh, Meshal, Tsorona, Hadish Adi, Knto and Una Argenay in Debub region from 26 February to 1 March. Points of action will be formulated according to the findings of the assessments.

The UNICEF Education team visited Meshal and Akran in Senafe sub-region to monitor the education sector support to the resettled IDPs community. So far, eight makeshift classroom structures have been constructed and all are occupied; a second shift of lessons has been set up to accommodate the surging number of pupils, which presently stands at 620 (320 girls). The learning/teaching materials and the recreational kits were not yet received at the time of the visit.

The students are currently sitting on sand bags or stones since no desks have been distributed to the schools. The desks are expected to arrive in the port of Massawa at latest during the month of March. The same situation was observed in Hadish Adi elementary school. School toilets have not yet been constructed due to the scarcity of iron rods required for preparing the slabs. The Ministry of Education in Debub region reported that they have received the educational materials, and will distribute them to the schools during the coming weeks.

In the area of Community-based therapeutic feeding (CBTF), the Ministry of Health, in collaboration with UNICEF, completed the TOT for expansion of 6 TFP sites in Hagaz and Habero in Anseba region, Senafe and Debarwa in Debub region and Gelalo and Massawa in Northern Red Sea (NRS) region as well as training for volunteers in Hagaz and Senafe.

The data on CBTF admissions and discharges (Nov 2006 to Mid Feb 2007) show that the recovery rate among severely malnourished children has improved. E.g in Adikeih, Debub region, out of admitted 65 children, 35 recovered, one child died and there were 4 defaulters. In order to monitor the progress, the MoH and UNICEF organized joint field monitoring for the CBTF activities in Geleb (Anseba), Sheib (NRS) and Adikeih (Debub). Both verification of reported data on CBTF and on-the-job-training were provided. Two new CBTF sites in Hagaz (Anseba) and Senafe (Debub) will be operational from the 1st week of March. A new site in Gelalo (NRS) will be operational from the 3rd week of March.


CARE identified and selected three sites for micro dam construction in Debub region before the fuel crisis (September 2006) struck all NGOs presently working in Eritrea. CARE, prepared survey and pond designs, bills of quantity for the micro-dams and identified contractors. However, all construction activities were suspended since September 2006, due to lack of fuel. In February, the government has approved the distribution of a limited amount of fuel coupons to all the NGOs and CARE has resumed its construction activities. It has started to mobilize machinery and resources to construct 3 micro-dams in Debub region (2 in Adi Quala sub-region and 1 in Mai Mine sub-region). The micro-dams are expected to address water supply problems for the communities and their livestock. The capacity of the micro-dams is approximately 25,000 to 45,000 cubic meters each and will benefit 2085 people


Water and Sanitation

Oxfam has resumed its development activities after several months (since September 2006) of suspension due to lack of fuel. In February, all of Oxfam's activities took place in Debub region. The construction of a micro dam in Adi Kemesho in Areza sub-region was started. The micro-dam construction in Mendefera sub-region is due to resume in March. Oxfam, provided training to the members of the water, sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) committees of three satellite villages in the Areza sub-region.

Oxfam continued the construction of 10 water wells in the sub-regions of Areza, Dbarwa, Mendefera and Emni Haili. It also rehabilitated two boreholes in Mendefera sub-region. The agency improved spillways at five previously constructed micro-dams in the sub-regions of Areza, Dibarwa and Maimine. The wall of a previously constructed micro-dam in Areza sub-region has been improved in order to upgrade the retention of water. Oxfam also constructed check dams in two sub-regions in order to improve re-charge to water infrastructure.


Oxfam distributed 1,108 goat to 465 vulnerable families (of which over 250 were women-headed households) in two villages in the Maimine sub-region. Oxfam purchased the goats at the local livestock market for ERN 864,900 (USD 57,660) and this benefited 579 local livestock traders.

Oxfam also purchased 115 quintals of improved sorghum seeds from 208 farmers at a rate of ERN 850/quintal (rate set by the Ministry of Agriculture) in Debub region for a total of ERN 97,750 (USD 6,517). The MoA will distribute the seeds to needy farmers for the next planting season.

Oxfam completed a well in Adi Kudada, and a water reservoir for small-scale irrigation in Debre Mariam both in the Maimine sub-region. In addition it provided irrigation equipment such as pumps, pipes and seed to twelve families (six at each site).


On February 23rd the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) reported that the number of locusts has continued to increase along the Northern coast of Eritrea and adjacent coastal areas of Sudan. FAO indicated that in Eritrea and Sudan a second generation of breeding is underway and that could cause rapid increase of the present locust population. According to the report, Eritrean ground teams have treated more than 15,000 hectares of land infested with locusts that were forming small groups on the northern Red Sea coast since December last year.

According to FAO, the governments of Sudan and Yemen have mobilized additional locust teams to monitor the coastal plains in their countries and control infestations that may endanger crops.


The Route Clearance Team (RCT) of the MACC continues to monitor high-risk roads, riverbeds, verges of roads and minefields on the roads of Shiraro in Sector West. The Integrated Demining Capacity (IDC) teams continue to work in the Egri Mekel minefield in Tserona, Sector Center, within the Temporary Security Zone (TSZ). Throughout February, both teams cleared 489,651m² of land and 309 Kms of road. The teams discovered 7 Unexploded Ordnance (UXO) items, 24 Anti Tank mines and 3 Anti Personal mines in February 2007.

Two Mine Risk Education (MRE) Teams deployed in the TSZ, Shilalo and Sub Zone of Lalay-Gash in Sector West, and Tserona in Sector Center, conducted various MRE activities with the local population from different age groups and gender affected by mines and explosive remnants of war. The teams conducted MRE activities for 1,180 beneficiaries. In February, three items of explosive remnants of war have been reported to MACC, HQ in Asmara.

The MACC Force Mine Action Center (FMAC) in Asmara conducted intensive MRE training to 30 staff members of FAO, Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Land and Environment, Ministry of Health as well as UNFPA. The training was conducted to raise awareness about the threat posed by mines and explosive remnants of war in Eritrea. The FMAC also conducted MRE briefings to UNMEE personnel, including 17 UNMOs, (UN-Military Observers) 5 military staff officers, 6 civilian staff members, and 6 VSO staff.

The Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) team based in Eritrea deployed to Tserona area, Gergera and Hadish Adi village, in Sector Center. The team destroyed 5 Unexploded Ordnances (UXO), 4 Anti-Tank mines and investigated 5 "Free From Explosive" (FFE) UXOs declaring them safe, in this region.

For further Information related to the Humanitarian Update, Please contact:

OCHA - Eritrea at 291-1-151666/151888,
Fax- 291-1-151999, e-mail:

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
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