The latest estimate by the government relief agency, the Disaster Prevention and Preparedness Commission (DPPC) and the UNCT pointed out that some 20 percent of the country's population of 67.5 million require relief food on account of the ongoing drought-induced humanitarian crisis.
In addition, 16.2 million children were in need of immediate vaccination for measles and Vitamin A campaigns, which require an additional 86.7 million dollars of the amount estimated last December.
Commission Simon Mechale of the government's relief agency told ambassadors and other donors representing international organizations and NGOs that 58 per cent of food grain and 42 per cent of additional requirements for the year have been met so far.
"Our main concern at present is about undelivered pledges,'' he said, as he urged donors to speed up the delivery of aid.
"We are now left now with less than 40,000 tons of food grain in stock, enough for next month, but we don't know what will happen after that,'' Simon observed.
Nyambi pointed out that the government and its partners had "re-examined'' the 2003 requirements of the country during the initial joint appeal in December, which had since been compounded by a sharp decrease in the anticipated 2002 harvest output.
He disclosed that the food production in 2002 stood at 9.27 million tons, 25 percent below that of the previous year.
"There is a risk that the present crisis may become a disaster unless we act now,'' Nyambi warned, as he reiterated that available grain and that on its way would only cover the country's needs until June.
The year 2002 had been characterized as one of the worst droughts in recent years, since the severest one in 1984-85, which claimed the lives of about one million Ethiopians.
Nyambi noted that non-food requirements, such as health, water, agriculture and livestock were equally crucial this year.
He said an additional 20 million dollars was needed in the health sector, 17.4 million for animal health and 15.2 million for agricultural needs.
One of the pressing needs for 2003 was water, for which 20 million dollars has been requested for maintenance, rehabilitation of existing water schemes and borehole drilling in seriously affected areas.
"Some 2.7 million people are in critical need of water at present,'' Nyambi said. dpa gh bg sc
- Deutsche Presse Agentur
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