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Ethiopia: Complex Health/Food Insecurity Emergency Situation Report #7 (FY 2005)



Note: This report updates situation report #6 dated September 8, 2005.


In early 2005, humanitarian conditions in Ethiopia began to deteriorate as a result of increasing malnutrition rates, inconsistent rains, record high cereal prices, distress migration, general destitution, and disease outbreaks. Areas of concern first emerged in January in Afar Region, followed by East and West Hararghe and Arsi zones of Oromiya Region, parts of Amhara Region, and in Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples (SNNP) Region. As the hunger season began, humanitarian hotspots existed in 8 of 9 regions in the country. By May, an estimated 12 million Ethiopians faced a largescale complex food security crisis. The threat of increased localized famine conditions grew as delays in the Government of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia's (GFDRE) Productive Safety Net Program (PSNP) and underestimation of emergency needs and beneficiary numbers hindered response efforts to the growing emergency. As humanitarian needs continued to grow, USAID/OFDA deployed a Disaster Assistance Response Team (USAID/DART) in May 2005 to significantly expand the USG response capacity to the large-scale complex emergency in Ethiopia. The USAID/DART conducted water and sanitation, health and nutrition, and general food security assessments in the worst affected regions and hotspot areas. As the hunger season draws to a close, the humanitarian situation in Ethiopia has stabilized. Good rains have led to widespread favorable conditions for both long and short-cycle crops. Fair to good harvests are expected to stabilize cereal prices and improve food security for vulnerable households in the short-term. However, due to cyclical shocks to household level food security during the past several years and the resulting asset depletion, mid to long-term household food security remains a critical concern.

Vulnerable Population in 2005 12 million USAID Field Assessments, May-July 2005
Total Food Aid Requirements in 2005 464,385 metric tons (MT) GFDRE, May 4, 2005

Total FY 2005 USAID/OFDA Assistance to Ethiopia: $33,627,330

Total FY 2005 USG Humanitarian Assistance to Ethiopia: $492,184,062


Increased agricultural productivity improves food security. Though belg rains were delayed by a month, there was no break between the belg and meher seasons in most parts of the country in 2005. Good rains have led to widespread favorable conditions for growth of both long and short cycle rain-fed crops, though some pockets of poor rainfall have been reported. In light of recent rains, forecasters are predicting a strong harvest in 2005. Increasing productivity this year should have a stabilizing effect on cereal prices, which have risen steadily since January. Due to its lower cost, the demand for maize primarily among the rural poor exceeds the demand for other cereal crops. In addition to lower prices, a good yield will likely improve food security of vulnerable households in the short term, but even with a bumper year for food production, poor rural Ethiopians will remain vulnerable to food insecurity and asset depletion over the long term.

Humanitarian situation stabilizes. As the annual hunger season draws to a close and as a result of large-scale nutrition and other multi-sectoral emergency interventions, the overall humanitarian situation in Ethiopia is relatively stable.

Between May 31 and September 30, USAID deployed a USAID/DART to Ethiopia, to significantly expand the nonfood response to the humanitarian crisis and augment USAID's capacity to rapidly respond to emerging hotspots. Since May, 20 staff members have served on the team as part of an response effort integrated with USAID/Ethiopia.

USAID team assesses emergency response interventions. From mid-August to mid-September, a joint USAID/OFDA and USAID/Ethiopia team conducted the second annual assessment of local emergency response capacity. While significant shortcomings remain, the latest assessment noted several improvements over the last year. Since 2003, USAID has been working closely with the Disaster Prevention and Preparedness Commission (DPPC) to strengthen the GFDRE's disaster management capacity. As a part of the increased coordination, USAID/OFDA and USAID/Ethiopia have funded the Emergency Preparedness Support Program (EPSP). Through EPSP, USAID provides training and technical assistance to enhance DPPC capacity building efforts. In particular, EPSP focuses on improving management systems to more clearly delineate responsibilities for managing shocks.

In addition, EPSP aims to improve human capacity by raising the skill levels of staff and collaborators and increase physical capabilities through improved communications, logistics, and storage. Promoting knowledge management through improved emergency assessment procedures is also a major emphasis of the program.

Chronic concerns in Gambella. In mid-September 2005, members of the USAID/DART traveled to Gambella to assess the humanitarian situation, visit the largest refugee camp in the region, and meet with U.N. agencies, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) operating in the area, and regional government officials. Based on field visits and discussions with USAID/OFDA partners, the USAID/DART observed that the acute crisis reported in May had stabilized. However, the chronic humanitarian situation across all major sectors remains poor, and longer-term development and infrastructure projects are greatly needed. Few humanitarian or development organizations are currently operating in the region due to chronic insecurity. According to the U.N. High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), the Fugnido camp and surrounding town currently contain a total of 10,800 people, including internally displaced persons (IDPs) within Gambella and refugees from Southern Sudan.

Millions still at risk of malaria. According to the U.N. Children's Fund (UNICEF), 6 million Ethiopians, most of them children, are threatened by a potential malaria epidemic. On September 22, UNICEF reported that high rainfall and epidemiological trends indicated increased possibility of a malaria epidemic during the October to December transmission season. In addition, UNICEF warned that supplies of Coartem have already been consumed in large quantities to control earlier outbreaks this year, and that an epidemic could exhaust stocks of Coartem and quinine. According to UNICEF, Ethiopia is in need of an additional 2 million cases of Coartem, at a cost of $4 million, as well as $125,000 for emergency quinine for the treatment of severe cases, including infants and pregnant women.

Locust sightings trigger increased vigilance. Beginning in mid-June, the sighting of desert locust swarms and hoppers in 12 woredas across Tigray and Amhara regions has raised alarm over the prospect of an additional threat to livelihoods and food security. The Ethiopian Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MoARD), in collaboration with the Desert Locust Control Organization for Eastern Africa, has conducted monitoring, surveying, and control operations. To date, damage is minimal. Concerns remain, however, that Ethiopia may experience increased locust activity, including possible swarms from Eritrea and Sudan. Given the speed with which the swarms travel and devastate agricultural assets, continued surveillance, control, and coordination-particularly across international borders-are essential in coming months. USAID/OFDA has provided support to the Assistance for Emergency Locust/Grasshopper Abatement project, which closely monitors locust and other transboundary activity.

U.N. extends peacekeeping mission. On September 13, the U.N. Security Council extended the mandate of the U.N. Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE) until March 15, 2006. In addition, the Security Council approved the reconfiguration of UNMEE, increasing the number of military observers by 10. Under the current mandate, approximately 3,000 peacekeepers patrol the border, an area known as the Temporary Security Zone. Martti Ahtisaari, the Special Envoy of the U.N. Secretary General for the Humanitarian Crisis in the Horn of Africa, recently urged Eritrea and Ethiopia to resolve the ongoing border dispute due to its continued negative impact on humanitarian activities and development.


On October 12, 2004, U.S. Ambassador Aurelia E. Brazeal redeclared a disaster in response to the continuing health and food insecurity emergency in Ethiopia. Heavy flooding in localized areas of Somali Region prompted the Ambassador to issue a second disaster declaration for floods on May 25, 2005. On June 4, USAID/OFDA airlifted emergency relief supplies including 500 rolls of plastic sheeting, 10,000 blankets, and 5,000 water containers to assist residents affected by the flooding.

In FY 2005, USAID/OFDA committed more than $33.6 million through 3 U.N. agencies and 21 NGO partners to support humanitarian activities in Ethiopia. This included $17 million to for nutrition and health programs, $4 million for water and sanitation interventions, and $9 million to support agriculture and livelihoods recovery initiatives. In addition, USAID/OFDA provided $1 million to enhance coordination, $2 million to strengthen local government capacity to respond to emergencies, and more than $728,000 for pastoralist initiatives and the provision of relief supplies. Under the Pastoralist Livelihoods Initiative (PLI), which includes multisectoral interventions aimed at increasing resiliency and aggregating shocks, USAID/OFDA is supporting food security, livelihoods, and agriculture programs in Afar, Oromiya, and Somali regions. USAID/OFDA PLI partners include Tufts University, GOAL, Mercy Corps, and World Vision.

Emergency food assistance. The USG is the largest donor of food assistance to Ethiopia. In FY 2005, USAID's Office of Food for Peace (FFP) has pledged 958,310 MT through a combination of P.L. 480 Title II emergency food assistance, valued at more than $324.1 million, and Bill Emerson Humanitarian Trust (BEHT) valued at approximately $130.1 million through the U.N. World Food Program (WFP) and NGO implementing partners' Protracted Relief and Recovery Operation (PRRO) and Joint Emergency Operation (JEOP) to support the 2005 Humanitarian Appeal, as well as areas targeted for the PSNP. USAID/FFP assistance is provided to vulnerable populations through direct distribution, food-forwork programs, emergency school feeding, maternal and child health, and therapeutic and supplementary feeding programs.

Refugee assistance. In FY 2005, the U.S. State Department's Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (State/PRM) contributed more than $4.3 million for programs in Ethiopia, including $500,000 to WFP to ensure full rations for Sudanese, Somali, and Eritrean refugees; more than $2 million to the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) for refugee assistance countrywide; and approximately $1.7 million to the International Rescue Committee (IRC) for refugees in Shimelba camp, Tigray Region, and in Yarenga and Sherkole camps, Beneshangul Gumuz Region.

MAP: Ethiopia: FY 2005 Programs (30 Sep 2005)

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