Eritrea

UNICEF Humanitarian Action: Eritrea Donor Update 27 Jan 2003

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URGENT FUNDS NEEDED FOR HEALTH/NUTRITION, WATER/SANITATION, EDUCATION AND CHILD PROTECTION

  • Some 2.3 million Eritreans are in urgent need of assistance as a result of drought

  • 70% of population face acute water shortages and 80% of livestock are affected

  • Only 25% of overall food relief requirements have been pledged and already nutritional status of children is at a critical level

  • US$ 10.9 million needed for 2003

1. EMERGENCY OVERVIEW AND RECENT DEVELOPMENTS

The effects of drought continue to deepen in Eritrea. All regions and two-thirds of the whole population are affected. Distress signs are mounting-increased malnutrition, selling-off of livestock, livestock deaths, drying-up of wells and traditional water sources, local grain price increases, and food scarcity on markets in remote areas. The Drought Assessment Mission drawn-up jointly by the Government, UN agencies and NGOs last August predicted the worst drought since 1992. In some hard hit areas, villagers report that the situation has not been so serious since the 1985 famine. In response to the deteriorating situation, UNICEF is initiating life saving interventions, particularly in water/ sanitation, and health /nutrition.




Anticipating food shortages, the Government of Eritrea has appealed for 400,000 MT of food already in August 2002. Certain villages are receiving rations through timely donations of bilateral and multilateral donors-but it is not enough. Many people report receiving one third of needs and only cereal. Children are showing signs of poor quality diets, with increased infections, etc., as milk and other traditional items disappear from their meals. Food pledges are slow and food gaps may take place by the second quarter of 2003, causing great stress on women and children whose coping mechanisms have been over-stretched.

Already affected by four years of crisis, there is evidence that some 300,000 children under five years of age are at high risk. Six months ago, according to Demographic Health Survey, three out of six sub-regions had critical levels of malnutrition, according to WHO standards. Recent nutrition surveys in Anseba Province showed as many as 28% of children with global malnutrition. Among hardest hit pastoral groups in Southern Red Sea, sub-cluster results show alarming figures of 42% global malnutrition. Clearly immediate response in food, water, health and other emergency measures are needed.

Access to drinking water is becoming a major problem. UNICEF and the Government conducted an assessment in November last year and determined that some 1.7 million people were in critical need of drinking water in some 70% of rural villages. While before the current drought, estimates are that only 18% of Eritreans had access to safe drinking water, the drought has further exacerbated the situation. This recent assessment also determined that 80% of livestock in the country was also threatened by the lack of water. Reports of large numbers of livestock deaths in Northern Red Sea confirm this problem. UNICEF, as the lead agency in the water sector in Eritrea, has begun to build on its previous accomplishments and is rapidly addressing water/sanitation needs in drought and post conflict affected villages.

The current drought compounds post conflict requirements in social sector support. Refugees, returnees, and internally displaced persons (IDPs) are still in need of assistance. While some 195,000 IDPs have returned to their villages of origin and some 70,000 IDPs and expellees remain in camps. UNICEF is providing basic needs to destitute children in camps, but again, funds are urgently required.

Further compounding the capacity of people to cope with drought is the fact that landmines along the southern border hinder the movement of people and livestock. Many of the challenges brought about by the current drought and the recent war are daunting and require both rapid and thoughtful interventions focusing not only on emergency relief efforts, but as well as medium and sustainable solutions. Complementing relief planning under the Consolidated Appeal Process (CAP), the UN system has recently assessed a collective Recovery Plan for community based social sector services in post conflict regions and a separate appeal will be forthcoming.

2. UNICEF RESPONSE: ACTIVITIES AND ACHIEVEMENTS

UNICEF's presence in independent Eritrea dates from 1992 with its main office being located in Asmara. Programme emphasis is on primary health care and nutrition, water supply and sanitation, basic education, protection, and communication. In 2003, with the drought emergency influencing many programme parameters and goals, UNICEF is collaborating with the Government and its partners to address the following areas:

Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH): As a result of drought, overall funding requirements for UNICEF water projects have been doubled as the programme targets urgent supply and system requirements to some 70% of rural villages in the country. Requirements are prioritised, including protecting water quality, renovating existing systems in drought stricken areas, and creating new water sources where none exist.

Early Childhood Development (ECD): The programme focuses on child and maternal health, nutrition and parenting education to a good start in life. Emphasis is given on care to ensure child survival, health, emotional security, and ability to learn. Measles immunisation campaign, expansion of malaria prevention and expansion of child nutrition programmes, including surveillance, micro-nutrient and special feeding support, are all foreseen with adequate funding.

Basic Education: Activities focus on promoting quality of education through teachers training, material development, infrastructure, and specific ways to increase education for girls. In this drought emergency, the aim is to secure retention. UNICEF is supporting the provision of water and sanitation facilities for 200 schools (some one-third of schools in country) to support school feeding with WFP.

Child Protection: The child protection activities focus on the reunification of orphans and support for children in need of special protection measures. Priorities include institutional strengthening of the Government to identify and care for children with special protection needs. This includes integration of orphans (including HIV orphans) into host families, child headed households, assessment of numbers and risks of socially vulnerable children (especially given destitution caused by drought), street children, and provision of basic needs to IDP children.

Communication for Child Rights: Focus is given to social mobilisation and advocacy, prevention of HIV/AIDS and landmine awareness in order to increase awareness and change behaviours in areas of critical importance for achieving programme objectives.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS IN 2002

Although UNICEF Eritrea received only 40% of its requirements in 2002, the office has been able to substantially respond to many of the emerging drought and war related emergency needs through institutional strengthening of the Government, provision of critical supplies, training and other related services. All these interventions were carried out to complement the efforts of the Government as highlighted below:

Health and Nutrition: Over the last five years, UNICEF has greatly contributed to the efforts of the Government and other humanitarian partners in halving the infant mortality through increased immunization coverage, malaria prevention and other interventions. Yet the combination of internal displacement and drought continue to place the health and nutritional status of children and women at great risk. Last year, UNICEF supplied Vitamin A to 222,200 children and 2,540 post-partum mothers, supported special feeding of malnourished children in 15 health facilities, and provided 52 MT of special foods in post conflict sub-regions. Training was conducted for over 400 persons: women and health workers.

Water and Sanitation: Efforts continued to rehabilitate a large number of water sources in the drought-affected areas. In 2002, UNICEF rehabilitated 17 water supply systems, installed 50 hand pumps and trained villagers on water management system - all to support the returnees and IDPs affected by drought and war. Provision of water and sanitation facilities to additional 14 settlements hosting returnees from Sudan was initiated. In addition, by late 2002, UNICEF had started to supply a number of schools in country with water and sanitation facilities.

Emergency Education: Nineteen schools damaged during the war were rehabilitated and special efforts have been made to provide separated children with secondary education by establishing Child-Friendly Spaces (CFS). UNICEF has provided textbooks for 26,000 school children and teaching and learning materials to 98,300 children. A total of 1,115 teachers were trained to improve their teaching skills. UNICEF is collaborating with WFP in supporting the school feeding programme.

Child Protection: The establishment of CFS has enabled UNICEF to provide adequate protection to children within these settings. Particular attention is being given to children's safety from landmines through the establishment of a safe play area to accommodate 1,000 war-affected children. In addition, over 23,000 children were assisted with basic needs such as clothing and shoes in four IDP camps.

HIV/AIDS: UNICEF activities have also focused on the advocacy and mobilization of communities to address the emerging threats of HIV/AIDS. In collaboration with the National Union of Youths and Students (NUEYS), training and sensitisation on the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and HIV/AIDS issues were conducted for 474 teachers in camps and returnee villages. This included the sensitisation of 1,669 community members (administrators, religious leaders, and parents). The NUEYS also took part in the awareness raising activities on landmines, which poses a serious threat to civilians.

Communication for HIV/AIDS: UNICEF has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with UNHCR to accelerate HIV/AIDS awareness activities among returning refugees and their host communities. A similar MoU was signed between UNICEF and WFP to support PHLA and elderly women who provide care to AIDS orphans. A pilot programme on prevention of mother to child transmission of HIV/AIDS is in progress. This project will enhance voluntary counselling and testing services by introducing rapid testing methods that will minimize time and the agony of waiting.

Mine Action: UNICEF continued its efforts in establishing an effective and sustainable national Mine Risk Education (MRE) capacity in Eritrea, aiming at reducing the number of landmine/UXO related accidents among high-risk populations, specifically IDPs and returnees from Sudan.

3. 2002 APPEAL REQUIREMENTS AND RECEIPTS

UNICEF is thankful to the donors listed in the table below for their contributions to the 2002 Appeal.

Table 1: FUNDS RECEIVED FOR 2002 APPEAL BY DONOR AS OF 31 DECEMBER 2002
Donor
Income/Pledge (US$)
Japan
1,650,000
Netherlands
754,700
Norway
1,041,369
Canada
498,891
Sweden
328,335
United States
120,000
UNMEE
91,070
US Fund
53,000
Swedish National Committee
35,107
UNDP
15,823
Total
                  4,588,294

The table below shows the contributions received for the 2002 Appeal, by sector:

Table 2: 2002 APPEAL REQUIREMENTS AND FUNDING
 AS OF 31 DECEMBER 2002
Sector
Target (US$)
Funded (US$)
% Funded
Unfunded (US$)
Health & Nutrition
3,500,000
    1,221,782
35
2,278,218
Water & Sanitation
2,580,000
2,401,074
93
178,926
Education
2,000,000
608,322
30
1,391,678
Child Protection
816,000
88,332
11
727,668
HIV/AIDS
556,500
68,839
12
487,661
Mine Action
840,000
199,945
24
640,055
Total
10,292,500
4,588,294
44
5,704,206
          

4. 2003 APPEAL REQUIREMENTS

Programme requirements remain focused on sustaining achievements accomplished in the various programme areas, consolidating and expanding these activities to minimise the effects of drought. Since the preparation of the 2003 UN Inter-Agency Consolidated Appeal for Eritrea, the crop failure was documented, the Demographic Health Survey results were published, and a country-wide technical assessment of water was conducted. As a result, UNICEF has revised the total water/sanitation and health/nutrition budgetary requirements to meet the new needs.

Table 3: FUNDING REQUIREMENTS FOR 2003
Sector
Requirements (US$)
Revised Requirements (US$)
Water and Sanitation
2,978,500
4,050,500
Health and Nutrition
2,000,000
2,550,000
Education
2,090,000
2,090,000
Protection
959,445
959,445
Landmines and HIV/AIDS
1,210,000
1,210,000
Total
9,237,945
10,859,945

The only contribution received to date in support of the interventions outlined in the 2003 Appeal has been from the Norwegian Government of US$ 760,000.

5. CURRENT PRIORITIES

The table below lists the priority projects:

Table 4: PRIORITY REQUIREMENTS AS OF JANUARY 2003
Project
Beneficiaries/coverage
Amount Required (US$)
1. Water and Sanitation 1.7 million drought victims
4, 050, 500
2. Health and Nutrition  500,000 under five children, older children (measles and malaria), and 200,000 women of reproductive age
2.,550,000
3. Education 30% of all school aged children in the country
2, 090, 000
4. Protection 4,000 children and family members with special protection needs
     959,445

Details of the Eritrea Programme can be obtained from:

Christian Balslev-Olesen
Representative
UNICEF
Eritrea
Tel: 291-1-151344
Fax: 291-1-151350
E-mail: cbalslev@unicef.org

Olivier Degreef 
UNICEF EMOPS
Geneva 
Tel: +  41 22  909 5546
Fax: + 41 22 909 5902 
E-mail: odegreef@unicef.org

Dan Rohrmann
UNICEF PFO
New York
Tel:  + 1 212 326 7009
Fax: + 1 212 326 7165
E-mail: drohrmann@unicef.org