Report of the Joint Government of the State of Eritrea - United Nations Annual Needs Assessment for Humanitarian Assistance to Eritrea, Jan 2001


I. Executive Summary

Since the humanitarian community launched its appeals for assistance in January 20001 , two developments occurred that had major implications for the general humanitarian situation. Firstly, the third major round of hostilities between Eritrea and Ethiopia, which took place in May-June 2000, led to the displacement of over a million Eritreans, mainly from the war-affected border zones of Gash Barka and Debub. With much of the fighting taking place in Eritrea's most fertile regions (that account for 70% of Eritrea's agricultural production), displacement from these areas and the fact that farming activities were brought to a standstill resulted in food shortages in most of the country. Secondly, the drought that affected large areas of the Horn of Africa in 2000 intensified during the course of the year impacting an estimated 335,000 people in Eritrea. With two (currently three) consecutive years of inadequate rainfall, agro-pastoralists in the most drought-affected zones of Anseba, Northern Red Sea, and Southern Red Sea were forced to increasingly rely on traditional coping mechanisms for survival (this included the sale of livestock, which is often seen as a last coping mechanism). With water shortages in much of the country, vulnerable population groups, in particular children, became more susceptible to malnutrition and diseases related to poor sanitation.

In response to the deteriorating situation, the Government and the humanitarian community made complementary efforts to assist the most vulnerable war- and drought-affected populations. Revised Government and UN Country Team appeals were launched in June and July 2000 respectively, in addition to an Emergency Appeal for the Drought in the Horn of Africa issued in June 2000. Although considerable progress was made in 2000, in terms of meeting the urgent needs of the war- and drought-affected groups, the peace process (resulting in the signing of the Algiers Peace Agreement on 12 December 2000), and the subsequent return of more than 400,000 displaced persons, it is clear that significant populations will continue to require humanitarian assistance throughout 2001.

Thus, in looking forward, it was determined that with the continued combined and increasingly overlapping humanitarian implications of the drought and war, the humanitarian community would require a comprehensive survey of the needs of affected populations on which to base its humanitarian planning for 2001. This Annual Needs Assessment (ANA) was therefore undertaken (under the joint auspices of Government and the UN, with participation from the NGO community) in an effort to determine the number of people in need of assistance, particularly in drought- and war-affected areas, and to estimate and prioritize the needs of vulnerable populations in these areas. While separate methodologies and assessment teams were used to assess needs in the food and non-food sectors, both areas are covered in this report.

In terms of major findings, the ANA found that a total of 1,761,8542 of the most vulnerable rural inhabitants will need various levels of food assistance in 2001. Certain sub-sets of this group will also require different types of non-food assistance, depending on their particular situation. In addition to these rural groups in need of food and/or non-food aid, it was determined that approximately 154,000 urban residents, classified as vulnerable, will require varying types and levels of non-food assistance in the coming year. The assessment identified four main target population groups: IDPs in camps, the rural war-affected3 , the drought-affected, and the urban vulnerable.


1 The UN Country Team launched a Country Team Appeal in January 2000 covering the needs of 583,000 drought- and war-affected persons; the Government of Eritrea issued an appeal targeting 850,000 persons in the same two categories.

2 This includes provisional planning figures for a possible further 45,000 expellees/deportees from Ethiopia and 62,000 returnees from Sudan.

3 This group includes: IDPs living outside of camps, host communities, returnee IDPs/refugees, Eritreans currently under occupation, and rural deportees not in camps.

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