1.1 Humanitarian Situation Highlight in 2007
The 2006 joint Government-humanitarian partners' seasonal assessments in cropping and pastoral areas, which estimated emergency food requirements in 2007, indicated vast improvement in the food security prospects. Nevertheless, approximately 1.36 million people were identified to require emergency food assistance mostly from Somali Region and pocket areas of Oromia, SNNP, Amhara and Gambella regions due to cumulative effects of weather calamites.
The total food aid requirement for the identified 1.36 million emergency beneficiaries was estimated at 150,580 MT. The relief beneficiary figure was further revised based on the belg season assessment conducted in June 2007. With the improvement of the belg performance in most parts of the country, apart from pockets of pastoral and agro-pastoral areas in Eastern and Southeastern Ethiopia, there was a significant decrease in the number of relief beneficiaries during the second half of the year. Nevertheless, the relief food requirement was further revised during the fourth quarter of the year due to the deteriorating food security situation in Somali Region. Based on the findings of the UN mission led by the Humanitarian Coordinator, the number of relief food beneficiaries in the region was further increased to 950,000 from the initial 48,000 (belg/gu 2007 results), which raised the total relief food requirement to 208,760 MT.
Though incomparable with that of 2006, flooding incidences occurred in Gambella, Amhara, SNNPR, Tigray, Afar and Oromia regions in 2007. To avert the problem, enhanced flood prevention and preparedness measures were undertaken, including a Flood Alert and a Nationwide Flood Contingency Plan, aimed at mitigating the adverse impacts. Despite these measures, however, a number of people were affected in different ways.
Especially in the beginning of the year, there were reported cases of AWD in some localized areas of most regions. However, thanks to the unified efforts of the government and partners, the cases went on decreasing in the course of the year.
Moreover, desert locust infestation took place in southern and south eastern parts of the country during the fourth quarter of the year. The swarms were, however, brought under control before causing considerable damage. Unidentified camel disease was also reported to have occurred in some pastoral areas and the necessary measures were taken to subdue the incidence.
1.2 Review of Response to the 2007 Joint Humanitarian Appeal
1.2.1 Relief Food
At the beginning of 2007, the Government, in consultation with its humanitarian partners, introduced a new approach in the way emergency relief resources are allocated to 'affected' areas; it is called Case-by-Case and Area-by-Area (CBC) approach. In the previous years, food aid used to be allocated based solely on Government and humanitarian partners joint annual appeal, which estimates annual emergency relief resource needs based on seasonal assessments. An annual relief plan (ARP) was drawn based on the amount of relief resources shown on the Appeal, on the basis of which relief food was simply allocated and dispatched to the regions on a monthly basis.
The major shortcoming noted in the traditional process was that dispatch of food aid was undertaken based on the initial estimate, without confirming changing situations and actual needs on the ground. Also, the fact that certain areas (regions/woredas) were included in the APR gave an implication that these areas are entitled to receive the monthly relief ration.
Contrary to the traditional process, the new approach uses the results of the preceding year's meher and pastoral area seasonal assessments as a broad national estimate of emergency food aid requirements for planning and resource mobilization purposes. Specific acute needs are determined based on verification assessments. Upon the occurrence of adverse triggering conditions, woreda officials send relief assistance requests to their regional authorities. Regions, in turn, either forward the requests directly to the federal DPPA or deploy a technical team to the reportedly affected areas to verify the situation. Upon receiving alert report or emergency assistance request from the concerned region, DPPA initiates a joint rapid verification assessment in the reported hotspot areas. On the basis of the findings of the verification assessment decisions are made on appropriate intervention measures to be taken including relief resource allocation and close monitoring of the situation.
Thus, unlike the previous years, all relief food responses in 2007 (except in Somali Region) were effected using this new approach. Emergency beneficiaries in PSNP woredas were also identified and addressed using the new approach through the 20 percent contingency component of the existing safety net resources. To ensure appropriate implementation of the approach, a guideline was developed and disseminated to the regions.
In the process of implementation of the new approach, flexibility was applied in order to ensure quick response and avoid risks of loss of life. In the case of rapid-onset emergencies such as floods and conflicts, a one-month relief food ration was sent to the 'affected' areas upon request from regions while simultaneously deploying a rapid assessment team for verification. The CBC approach was not applied in allocating relief food aid to Somali Region during the major humanitarian operation in the fourth quarter of the year.
As can be realized, the new approach ensured verification of needs prior to resource allocation and enabled resources destined only to the needy areas, resulting in better utilization of scarce relief resources (see Table 2 below). However, as the approach is a new initiative, there were some challenges faced in ensuring rapid responses in limited cases. There were also some practical problems encountered in the implementation process such as shortage of vehicles for the recurrent case-by-case and area-byarea assessments.
Increased number of verification assessments, particularly with requests to undertake verification of needs for using the contingency safety net resources in PSNP woredas, in addition to verifying needs for emergency resources, was felt to overstretch the capacity of relief operators, reportedly resulting in assessment fatigue and reduced participation of the non-government partners. However, while it is understood that more has to be done in order to refine the implementation process and hence avoid potential delays in relief response, the overall assessment of the achievement of the new approach is quite encouraging and positive.