Eritrea is experiencing the worst drought in decades, says Dr. Nsu-Milang, WHO Representative in Eritrea. In some areas not a single raindrop has fallen since June 2002. As a result, farmers of the country's most fertile soils could harvest only 9% of the average annual yields. According to the Government of Eritrea, some 2.3 million people, out of a population of 3.4 million, are in need of food assistance.
A UN assessment revealed that 70% of the country's villages don't have a functioning water system, and up to 28% of children under five are malnourished.
WHO, in collaboration with the government and UN agencies, is working to assist in the crisis. However, WHO needs additional funds to effectively address the health and nutrition needs of the drought-affected population. While provision of food is the first relief priority in this emergency, it is also critical to organize programs for the prevention and treatment of important diseases since malnutrition and infectious diseases are closely linked.
Following poor response to the CAP for Eritrea in 2001, 2002 and 2003, WHO is currently requesting donors to support priority interventions in order to assist the most vulnerable victims of the drought.