Ethiopia: Emergency and humanitarian action weekly update - Week 26 (22 - 28 Jun 2009)

Situation Report
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- WFP reports that a break in its relief food pipeline continues. The stakeholder food prioritization committee is regularly meeting to decide on rations for upcoming distributions.

- The findings of the Somali Region nutrition survey have been shared with the Nutrition Steering Committee this week and a comprehensive response plan is going to be developed at the regional level.

- According to official reports from the Federal Ministry of Health (FMOH), 199 new cases of AWD and nine deaths (CFR of 4.5%) have been reported from Oromiya, SNNP, Afar and Harari Regions last week.


a) Political, social, security overview for the week

- The overall security situation in the country remained stable during this week. No major security incidents involving humanitarian staff members have been reported.

b) Main events of interest/ concern for health (displacements, conflicts, disease outbreaks, etc.)

Food security and malnutrition

- WFP indicates that the preliminary findings of the belg assessment teams indicate poor harvests in many belg crop-producing areas due to poor performance of the February to May rains. Major belg crop failure is reported in East and West Hararghe zones, while serious shortages of water and pasture are reported in the lowland areas of Oromiya Region. In SNNPR, poor performance of root crops is contributing to worsening food security, particularly in Kembata Tembaro, Sidama and Wolayita zones. In the six belg-dependent woredas of Southern Zone in Tigray Region, poorly performing rains have significantly impacted production: the belg harvest is expected to an estimated 1.3 per cent of normal. Moreover, near to total failure of the sugum rains in Afar has reportedly resulted in serious shortages of water and pasture in Zone 2 and Zone 5. Meanwhile, the gu assessment commenced in Somali Region on 22 June.

- According to the National Meteorological Agency (NMA) kiremt season climate outlook, the rains' performance is expected to be normal to above normal in the central?western and southwestern crop-producing parts of the country, but normal to below normal in northwestern, eastern, and central crop-producing areas, as well as the north eastern pastoral parts of the country. If the forecast holds, the latest FEWSNET/WFP food security update indicates that the result would be a second consecutive season of below?normal production in the eastern crop-producing areas. Consequently, there is a need to closely monitor the performance of the June to September rains in these areas. The kiremt rains contribute about 90 to 95 per cent of total annual crop production in Ethiopia and are critical for the regeneration of pasture and water in northern pastoral areas.

- WFP reports that breaks in its relief food pipeline continue. The stakeholder food prioritization committee is regularly meeting to decide on rations for upcoming distributions. According to WFP, only three months' relief food allocations were distributed in the first half of the year. Meanwhile, WFP and the NGO Joint Emergency Operation Programme (JEOP) resources could jointly address the needs of 4.1 million beneficiaries in a fourth round of allocations, while WFP has planned to reach approximately 3 million people in the fifth round. However, WFP reports that the planned immediately resolved. Moreover, despite the availability of food in the refugee pipeline, physical stocks are inadequate to achieve full ration distributions in July and August this year. WFP is discussing with UNHCR and the Administration for Refugees and Returnees Affairs (ARRA) as to the possibility of reducing rations for July to ensure food for August distributions. A final decision will be announced next week.

- FAO reports that locust swarms have been confirmed in 7 of Ethiopia's 11 regions, including in areas where there is no previous record of infestation. The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MoARD), in collaboration with FAO and the Desert Locust Control Office (DLCO) for Eastern Africa, is closely monitoring the situation. The Government is expected to present a response plan specifying immediate and medium-term actions to be taken next week. To control the spread of the infestation, MoARD has identified immediate requirements, amounting to approximately US$ 1 million. Meanwhile, a total of 1,110 hectares of land has been sprayed through ground and air operations in May and June. Control efforts in the area of origin (Somaliland), however, are challenged by community resistance to air spraying operations.