Ethiopia

DPPC and UN Country Team launch addendum to appeal

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ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia - The Disaster Prevention and Preparedness Commission (DPPC) and the UN Country Team today launched the addendum to the "Emergency Assistance Requirements and Implementation Options for 2003" calling for an increase in food and non-food requirements to address the ongoing humanitarian crisis affecting the country.
The Government and the UN estimate that approximately 20 percent of the country's population are at risk in the crisis brought on by the drought. In addition to food, needs span all principal sectors including health, water, agriculture and livestock. More than 11.3 million people require emergency food assistance totalling 1.46 million metric tons (MT) of food assistance. Another 3.1 million need close monitoring.

Responding rapidly to the worsening humanitarian situation in the country while continuing close monitoring, the Government and its partners have reexamined the requirements set forth in the original joint appeal, launched in December. With the anticipated increase in needs in all sectors, the DPPC and the UN have joined forces to quantify the adjusted needs in each sector. Rapid assessments on the grounds are ongoing.

In the addendum update, food requirements have been adjusted from 1.44 million MT to 1.46 million MT. On the non-food side, the original requirement of US$75.0 million has been revised to US$81.1 million.

Despite the positive response by the donor community thus far, firm commitments are needed in both the food and non-food sectors. In particular, the availability and access to seeds for farmers is critical. In addition, 16.2 million children are in need of immediate vaccination for measles and Vitamin A campaigns.

The cereal pipeline will be covered through to end of June. However, there are indications that those under close monitoring will need food assistance. Cereal rations have been reduced from 15 kg to 12.5 kg and supplementary food is in short supply. Any further reduction would make household food availability unacceptably low. Multi-agency teams led by the DPPC are being deployed this month for a rapid re-assessment of the situation on the ground. Some areas of the country will become inaccessible in the main rainy season, so food must be prepositioned.

Higher delivery costs and increased delivery time makes the coverage of supplementary food, including fortified blended food and vegetable oil, more difficult. While cereals can be borrowed from the national reserve, supplementary food loans have been taken from development projects to meet emergency nutritional needs. Only 40 per cent of 2003 supplementary food requirements have been met so far.

Nutrition surveillance teams will continue to monitor the nutritional status of affected populations. The distribution of supplementary food will be based on this data. Therapeutic feeding, where appropriate and feasible, is essential to address severe malnutrition.

Almost US$29 million is needed in the health and nutrition sector to procure and distribute emergency health kits. The money will also be used for measles and Vitamin A campaigns, strengthening child health services and training and mobilizations. Preventing meningitis, malaria and other epidemics is a priority of the emergency health effort. Efforts to build capacity for the Ministry of Health and regional health bureaus in the management of health and nutritional emergencies is also essential.

Approximately 2.7 million people are in critical need of water. The US$20 million requested will be used for water tankering, maintenance, and rehabilitation of existing water schemes and borehole drilling in affected areas. Coordination at the regional and lower administrative levels also needs to be strengthened.

In agriculture, the lack of access to seeds for the belg and meher planting seasons will have serious implications for farmers next year since inputs have become unaffordable. There has been a 70 percent reduction in the use of improved seeds as compared to 2001 and that trend is likely to continue this year. Cereal and pulse production for 2002 was estimated at 9.27 million MT, about 25 per cent below the previous year's post-harvest estimates and 21 per cent below the average for the previous five years. The addendum calls for US$13.5 million to meet Ethiopia's agricultural needs.

An additional $5.3 million is needed to fund animal health interventions that can prolong the life of livestock and prevent further depletions. Livestock represents the main livelihood in the whole of northeast Ethiopia. Losses in 2002 reached as high as 20 per cent. The Government has allocated $1 million for emergency animal health interventions. The extended drought has also caused ponds and seasonal rivers to dry up, resulting in feed shortages and the reduced immunity of animals to disease.

For HIV/AIDS prevention and awareness programmes, $3.7 million is needed. Another $1.7 million is requested for the education of 200,000 students in six drought-affected areas where educational opportunities are severely compromised. Awareness strategies are being developed for gender and child protection programmes at a cost of $1.1 million for enforcement and safeguards.

An Information Centre has been established at the DPPC to provide support and guidance to the humanitarian community, disseminate information and prioritize decision making to assist in the relief effort.

The Government has led a coordinated approach since the early stages of the crisis. However, contributions to the relief effort must not detract from the support to development activities. Discussions need to continue on developing infrastructure and systems to reduce the impact of cyclical drought in Ethiopia.

For more information, please contact 251-1-515155 or 444400; e-mail: awalker@unicef.org