Ethiopia + 4 more

Horn of Africa Drought Information Bulletin #1 (FY 2000)

The Horn of Africa is currently facing a humanitarian crisis of serious proportions. An estimated 15 million persons in the region are at risk of severe food shortages. Drought is the primary cause for the current food crisis in the Horn of Africa. Factors underlying the crisis include the cumulative effects of poor and unreliable rainfall and other shocks which have eroded assets and coping strategies over recent years. The worst drought-affected populations are pastoralists in southern and eastern Ethiopia, Somalia, and northern Kenya.

Conflict and insecurity have exacerbated the current humanitarian situation in the Horn of Africa. Intense fighting erupted between Ethiopia and Eritrea in May 1998 along contested border areas and flared again in February 1999. Approximately 100,000 people have been killed, wounded, or captured in the fighting, and about 700,000 people have been displaced in both countries. The border clashes have disrupted trade and economic activity and affected humanitarian access to vulnerable populations on both sides of the border. On February 23, 2000, renewed border fighting was reported along the eastern front. The fighting occurred despite ongoing US-supported diplomatic efforts to break the stalemate in peace efforts. Ongoing civil strife in Sudan and Somalia also continues to exacerbate the humanitarian situation and impede relief efforts.

Numbers Affected

Ethiopia faces the most severe crisis, with eight million people currently at risk. Between 580,000 - 760,000 Eritreans are also vulnerable, primarily due to the ongoing Eritrea-Ethiopia conflict. Approximately 70,000 agro-pastoralists in the Bakool Region of southern Somalia are at extreme risk of food insecurity. In addition, an estimated 1.8 million people in Kenya are at risk due to prolonged drought, according to the Government of Kenya (GOK). Despite an overall improvement in humanitarian conditions in Sudan, about 1.7 million people are expected to require food assistance this year. According to assessments conducted in late 1999, between 80,000 - 100,000 people in Djibouti will be in urgent need of food relief in the coming months.

Current Situation


In Ethiopia, recurrent drought has resulted in low-yielding harvests of the 1998 major (meher) and the almost complete failure of the 1999 secondary (belg) growing seasons. Tigray and Amhara regions, as well as pastoral zones in Oromiya and Somali regions, are particularly hard hit. Gode and Afder zones, located in the southeastern Somali Region, have received inadequate rainfall for the past three years, resulting in high rates of malnutrition, severe water shortages, and a significant loss of livestock and other assets. More than 57,000 people in Gode Zone have out-migrated in search of food and water. In some pastoral areas, up to 90% of the livestock are reportedly dying from lack of food and water.

On January 21, the Government of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia's (GFDRE) Disaster Prevention and Preparedness Committee (DPPC) launched its appeal for emergency assistance in calendar year (CY) 2000. The appeal estimated that some 7.7 million war-affected people would need food assistance. In addition, an estimated 350,000 people displaced as a result of the conflict with Eritrea would need continuing assistance in CY 2000. Most of the IDPs are living with host families in Tigray Region, while some continue to live along the border. In total, the DPPC expects 8 million people will require food assistance amounting to 898,936 metric tons (MT) in CY 2000, an increase of over 200,000 MT from the previous year. In addition to food, the DPPC appeal highlighted various non-food assistance requirements in the water supply, health, and veterinary care sectors. On January 28, the UN Country Team (UNCT) in Ethiopia issued a $190 million appeal in support of the DPPC appeal. The food component of the UNCT appeal for victims of natural disasters amounts to $99 million and seeks to provide 250,000 MT of food aid to 2.3 million people during the April - December period.

According to recent USAID assessments, the most critical humanitarian issue in Ethiopia is the lack of infrastructure and resources to effectively monitor, deliver, and target relief assistance. In addition to limited port capacity, the estimated capacity for in-country distribution is only 100,000 MT per month. This effort would require that the GFDRE give priority to the movement of relief commodities. Insecurity also continues to impact humanitarian access and response efforts in many drought and war-affected populations in Ethiopia.


On January 28, the UNCT launched its appeal for humanitarian assistance in Eritrea in CY 2000. The appeal covers emergency needs for more than 583,000 Eritreans, comprising 372,000 war-affected and 211,000 drought-affected persons, at a cost of $42.7 million. (The Government of the State of Eritrea (GSE) estimates the total beneficiary level at 760,000 individuals or 20% of the total population.) War-affected populations in Eritrea include IDPs, rural deportees, and host communities especially affected by the influx of IDPs. Most IDPs are located in Gash Barka and Debub (Southern) provinces. Drought-affected areas include the Anseba and Northern and Southern Red Sea regions. These areas have suffered two years of crop failure due to inadequate rains. The UNCT appeal, which responds to a GSE request for assistance, includes a requirement for 63,000 MT of food aid for a twelve-month period. Current non-food priorities include shelter, water, health, nutrition, and food production.


In Somalia, drought and continued clan-based fighting have led to decreased coping ability and increased displacement, particularly in the southern parts of the country. The most affected areas include Bakool, Bay, and Gedo regions. In Bakool, approximately 70,000 agro-pastoralists are facing extreme risk of food insecurity, though not at famine levels. In late January, International Medical Corps conducted a health assessment in Huddur, the regional capital, and observed no alarming signs of severe malnutrition. A relatively favorable harvest has benefited irrigated areas near the Juba and Shabelle rivers in southern Somalia. Insecurity and poor infrastructure remain the main constraints hindering access and response efforts throughout Somalia. For instance, the recent looting of food by clan militia precipitated the temporary suspension of food distribution in Bakool Region.


The GOK estimates that 1.8 million people in 29 of the 54 districts in the country are food insecure. Turkana District remains the most affected, with an estimated 250,000 people at risk. The GOK has appealed for approximately $62 million to combat the drought and estimates that an average of 20,000 MT of relief food is now required in the affected districts. The main constraints impeding relief assistance include limited access to affected areas and inadequate targeting.

In contrast, the humanitarian situation in Sudan remains relatively stable due to a favorable 1999 growing season. Surplus food production is expected in Western Equatoria. However, the UN World Food Program (WFP) recently launched a $58 million international appeal to feed 1.7 million people, the majority of whom are in southern Sudan, through the end of the year. According to WFP, areas of greatest concern include northern Bahr el Ghazal and Western Upper Nile regions. In late 1999, a joint WFP and Djibouti Government's Drought Assessment Mission indicated that 80,000 - 100,000 people, mostly located along the country's border with Ethiopia, will be in urgent need of food relief in the coming six months.

USG Assistance


· The USG plans to donate 585,000 MT of food assistance to the Horn of Africa region for CY 2000. To date, USAID/FFP has provided 76,690 MT of PL 480 Title II emergency food valued at approximately $29 million to Ethiopia through WFP, Catholic Relief Services (CRS), CARE, Save the Children (SC)/US, World Vision, and a local NGO (Relief Society of Tigray). In addition, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) is currently procuring 90,000 MT as repayment to the GFDRE Emergency Food Security Reserve.

· The USDA recently approved a government-to-government contribution of 135,000 MT of food aid commodities for Ethiopia.

· On October 8, 1999, US Ambassador to Ethiopia Tibor P. Nagy renewed the FY 2000 disaster declaration for Ethiopia as a result of the continued deterioration of household food security in many areas of the country and the inability of the GFDRE to respond adequately.

· In response, USAID/OFDA has approved $150,000 to the UN Development Program (UNDP) to assist in countrywide drought monitoring and emergency coordination efforts. USAID/OFDA will also support an emergency water, nutrition, and local capacity building program targeting pastoralists in Gode Zone, as well as a grant to WFP to increase the capacity of the port of Djibouti, which will assist in the delivery of food aid to Ethiopia in the coming weeks.

· USAID/OFDA, in conjunction with USAID/Ethiopia, has identified agriculture, water/sanitation, health/nutrition, logistics capacity, and monitoring/coordination as priority non-food needs in Ethiopia this year.

· In response to the drought declaration in FY 1999, USAID/OFDA provided more than $1.2 million to UNDP, UNICEF, WFP, and Save the Children Fund (SCF)/UK to assist in drought monitoring and coordination, delivery of measles vaccines, distribution of plastic sheeting and blankets, provision of food storage warehouse, water/sanitation interventions, and nutritional assessments.

· The GFDRE is reportedly allocating $31 million for the local purchase of 100,000 MT of grain to meet the needs of drought-affected populations. This assistance is expected to significantly reduce the pipeline gap in the coming months, as most food shipments from WFP and donors are scheduled to arrive after April. Commercial imports are projected to be negligible in the near future.


· On October 18, 1999, the US Ambassador to Eritrea William Clarke renewed the FY 2000 disaster declaration due to the unresolved border conflict and a prevailing drought in eastern Eritrea.

· USAID/OFDA is supporting ongoing health, nutrition, and shelter activities to assist war and drought-affected populations in Eritrea through grants obligated in FY 1999. These grants were provided to Africare and UNICEF and totaled $976,000. In FY 2000, USAID/OFDA plans to support additional health/nutrition, water/sanitation, and shelter programs to assist war and drought-affected populations in Eritrea.

· The USDA has also allocated the delivery of 37,000 MT of food commodities for Eritrea, as well as 50,000 MT for Sudan, and 20,000 MT for Kenya.

· In addition to the UNICEF and Africare grants, USAID/OFDA provided approximately $194,000 in FY 1999, primarily through the GSE's Eritrean Relief and Refugee Commission (ERREC). These funds were used to dispatch urgently-needed relief items to border areas. ERREC continues to effectively respond to and coordinate donor response efforts in Eritrea.


· On October 28, 1998, US Ambassador to Kenya Johnnie Carson renewed the FY 2000 disaster declaration in Somalia in light of current and projected needs. In response, USAID/OFDA is considering support for health and water projects in Bakool Region, and, in collaboration with USAID staff in Nairobi, is closely monitoring the humanitarian situation in the country.

· USAID/OFDA FY 1999 funding to Somalia totaled $5.8 million and focused on the provision of health services, water/sanitation, seed distribution and multiplication, and air transport support.


· In FY 2000 to date, USAID/OFDA has provided $25,000 in International Disaster Assistance funds for immediate drought response efforts in Kenya, following a disaster declaration by Ambassador Carson on December 6, 1999. USAID/OFDA also provided $11,500 to WFP to explore ways to improve targeting and distribution of food aid in Kenya. Additional USAID/OFDA funding will support distribution of GOK food aid in Turkana, as well as nutrition and water projects in drought-affected districts.

· In FY 1999, USAID/OFDA provided $2.2 million to Kenya, primarily to support mitigation activities in the areas of health, water/sanitation, animal health and restocking, and food distribution and production.

· USAID/OFDA continues to respond to the ongoing complex emergency throughout Sudan, focusing on chronically food insecure areas in the south. Road rehabilitation activities funded by USAID/OFDA have significantly improved access and reduced relief operation costs in southern Sudan.

· However, the Sudan Relief and Rehabilitation Association, the relief arm of the Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A), continues to insist that all NGOs sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) by March 1, 2000, or face expulsion from SPLM/A-controlled areas. Some NGOs who have opposed the MOU have begun to withdraw staff and assets from southern Sudan. The abrupt departure of NGOs from southern Sudan could seriously jeopardize ongoing humanitarian operations.

· At this time, USAID/OFDA is not funding any activities in Djibouti but is closely monitoring the humanitarian situation in drought-affected areas, in collaboration with USAID field staff.

· USAID staff have and continue to participate in various assessments in drought-affected areas in the Horn of Africa, including Ethiopia.

· In response to longer term food security challenges of pastoralists in the Horn, USAID staff in Ethiopia, Kenya, and Somalia are collaboratively developing a Southern Tier proposal under the Greater Horn of Africa Initiative. USAID programs throughout the Horn will also continue to support approaches that address the root causes of food insecurity.

USAID/BHR/OFDA Assistance (FY 2000 to date) $186,500

USAID/BHR/FFP Assistance (FY 2000 to date) $29,000,000

Total USG Assistance (FY 2000 to date) $29,186,500