First two flights of airlift carrying one hundred tons of food supplements for children arrives in Gode

Rome, 28 April 2000 - On 27 April, the first two flights of an airlift carrying one hundred tons of food supplements for infants, amounting to a value of five hundred million liras, reached Godé, the capital of the Ethiopian region worst affected by the drought.

These diet supplements, a donation from the Italian co-operation department and which include maize, soya, sugar, vitamins and minerals, are especially important for children, mothers and the elderly, in an area where nutrition levels are very low.

This donation from Italy was delivered symbolically in the presence of the Ethiopian authorities and Italian co-operation experts, to officials from the World Food Programme (WFP), the United Nations food security agency responsible for the distribution of aid. The foodstuffs offered by Italy arrive at a particularly crucial moment because the WFP storehouses are almost empty, pending further aid which is on its way by sea.

Italy's prompt response to the current food crisis in Ethiopia, along with that of other international donors, as well as the WFP's co-ordination work, is aimed at keeping what appears to be a critical situation under control.

Italian co-operation officers have also examined the agricultural situation in the region surrounding Gode, observing that a perennial river, the Wadi Shebele, runs through the area, and which despite low rainfall maintains a consistent level. The possibility was thus examined of launching an emergency operation involving the Italian Non-Governmental Organisations present in the country, to create an irrigation system, using pumps, that would make it possible to obtain a first harvest within a few months' time. A similar operation would foster the agricultural development of the populations residing near to the Wadi Shebele, thereby helping improve their food situation.