Ethiopia: Drought threatens eight million...

Ethiopia's drought threatens over eight million people with food shortages a government commission has found.
Ethiopia will therefore require International Emergency Assistance this year, the Ethiopian Government's Disaster Prevention and Preparedness Commission (DPPC) has announced.

At a meeting of UN Representatives, Donors, NGO leaders and DPPC Department Heads, the DPPC Commissioner, Mr. Simon Metchale informed the gathering that more than 8 million people will need almost 900,000 MT of food this year. About 350,000 of these people have been displaced by war or conflict. In addition, about 2.5 million people will need to be closely monitored. The current national stock of food is expected to last for only two months.

World Vision Ethiopia's Ajibar, Omosheleko, Mehal Meda, Kilte Awlalo Area Development Programmes, affected by drought for the last two years, face renewed food shortages. Other operational areas like Humbo and Antsokia-Kemise are being closely monitored as the effects of the long dry period increase.

WVE has prepared a short-term strategy to respond to the crisis in its 18 operational districts, and submitted proposals to donors. Once approved, food would immediately be available from the National Food Security Reserve.

Meanwhile WVE is finalising a disaster preparedness plan, in consultation with the Africa complex emergencies team, with a particular focus on the most vulnerable groups in the worst-affected ADPs.

"Currently, the food stock available for regular food-for-work activities is about 3000 MT and will be made available to the food-for-work beneficiaries to complement the relief activities in the affected areas," said national director Getachew Wolde Michael.

Many parts of the country, particularly the highland areas that rely on a single growing season, were hard hit in 1999 after two consecutive poor seasons. Subsequent inadequate rains across the country are making the existing crisis worse, and spreading its effects further according to a report by World Vision Africa humanitarian emergencies manager Ton van Zutphen.

"Having remained without rains for the rest of 1999, clearly a growing number of the people in these ADPs are now malnourished and some on the brink of starvation with no coping mechanisms left," says Mr van Zutphen.