International Save the Children Alliance emergency statement Ethiopia

News and Press Release
Originally published
This Bulletin outlines the current food security situation and gives an overview of the response by the International Save the Children Alliance, which is made up of five agencies in Ethiopia: Save the Children Denmark (SC-D), Norway (SC-N), Sweden (SC-S), UK (SC-UK) and US (SC-US). These agencies are operational or work through partners in the Zones of Somali, Amhara, Oromiya and Tigray, some of the most drought-prone Zones in the country.
Conditions in Ethiopia still critical

Drought conditions continued to prevail over most parts of Ethiopia in early 2003, extending the decline in crop production in certain areas of Somali, Tigray, Oromiya, Amhara and SNNPR Regions. According to current reports, over 11 million people, or 17% of the population are facing difficulties in accessing food because of the drought. The most recent research emanating from the Government Disaster Prevention and Preparedness Commission (DPPC) Save the Children, and World Food Programme (WFP) indicate that, as of mid-February, areas still experiencing critical drought and critical food insecurity include Wag Hamra, Shinille, Korahei, Oromiya, North and South Gonder, North and South Wollo, and East Gojjam. WFP goes on to state that food aid needs have been rising, from 7.1 million in need of food in January, to 10.2 million people in March. This amounts to 171,000 metric tonnes (mt.) of cereals, and 16,000 mt. of supplementary food.

According to WFP, Ethiopia is expected to face 2.3 mt. food deficits this year. There are concerns that the situation in some areas which are currently being closely monitored will deteriorate to the degree that intervention will be needed imminently, and assessments are currently underway to ascertain whether or not this is the case. According to the DPPC and WFP, food reserves are currently sufficient to cover May at a reduced ration size of 12.5 k per person, as opposed to 15kg. However, there is likely to be a shortfall of 32% in June. Meanwhile, just 50% of the total supplementary food needs were met in February. With current pledges, 74% of the supplementary food requirements are planned to be met this month, and some 60% in April.

In general, in 2002, rains were late in coming, and ceased early, with widespread impacts on crop and livestock production in late 2002 and early 2003. This led to losses of short season crops (teff and pulses), as well as severely impacting long-season crops (such as maize and sorghum). Many pastoralists and agro-pastoralists hadn't recovered sufficiently from the 2000 drought, meaning their ability to cope with further problems in 2002 had been eroded.

In many areas livestock prices have been steadily declining, while cereal prices have sharply increased, disrupting people's ability to access food. Water and pasture deficits have led to unusual migrations of households and cattle in some of the drought affected areas, particularly in Somali Region, in search of better pasture and water availability. Livestock deaths have also been experienced throughout the country, affecting not only livelihoods, but people's access to milk and dairy during the dry 'hungry' season.

The severity of the drought is most critical in the pastoral areas, particularly in Afar and Somali Region. In these Regions, impacts of the drought have included widespread livestock losses, rising grain prices, depressed livestock prices, the distress sales of household assets, unseasonal migration, increased selling of wood and charcoal, increased labour competition leading to reduced wages, and rising malnutrition.

Key Issues for Children

  • Children are at risk of malnutrition due to lack of adequate food and micronutrients.

  • Children's immune systems are likely to be weakened, making them vulnerable to illness and disease.

  • Children face water shortages in areas with chronic water problems. Poor water and sanitation associated with drought conditions can cause illness and disease.

  • The livelihoods of children and their families have been critically affected, through loss of livestock, poor terms of trade, and restricted trade due to closed borders.

  • Children and their families are at risk of being cut off from support networks due to drought-related migration.

  • Drought-related migration can obstruct children's access to education.
International Save the Children Alliance Response

Somali Region

SC-US and SC-UK work in Somali Region, SC-US in Erer and Ayesha Zones, while SC-UK is sub-contracted through USAID to work in Shinille and Dembal.

Food and Water Distributions

SC-US and SC-UK have been provided with funding through USAID, and JEOP,1 DFID, and the Gates Foundation in this Region. SC UK and US work in conjunction with the Regional and Federal DPPC throughout the region. In December, through grants obtained by the Gates Foundation and UNICEF, SC-US and SC-UK worked in conjunction with the regional and Federal DPPC to conduct three nutritional surveys in the above Zones. Results indicated that Global Acute Malnutrition rates, at 15.7%, were particularly high in Shinille. Between January and May 2003, SC-UK will provide 722 mt. of supplementary food to Shinille. Between December 2002 and February 2003, the organisation already delivered 3,160 mt of USAID-funded grain to the area. Another 4,317 mt. is expected to be distributed from March to May. SC-UK provided 6,400 mt. of DFID-backed food aid to Fik Zone until January 2003. The organisation also distributed 1,478 mt. of grain to Fik Zone in February through USAID/JEOP funding, and plans to provide a total of 4,434 mt. until May 2003.

SC-US provided 3,807 mt. of food aid to Somali Region in December and January of this year. The organisation plans to deliver a total of 15,168 mt. for Somali, East Hararghe and Amhara Regions, between January and May 2003. SC US will also distribute 1,963mt. of supplementary food to Somali Region between March and May. Meanwhile, over the next five years, the organisation plans to provide the Region with $6 million worth of USAID-funded supplementary food to malnourished children.

SC-UK and SC-US have also applied for joint US Government funding to launch a joint intervention encompassing health, nutrition, and livestock health in Shinille Zone. SC US is working with the Disaster Planning and Preparedness Bureau (DPPB) in water tankering in the Region, and have thus far provided 50,000 people with water.

Emergency Education

SC-US will be intervening in school feeding, water and sanitation, and the provision of teaching materials to 250 schools in drought-affected districts across Afar, Somali, Oromiya and Gembelle Regions, in a USAID funded project.

Livestock Health

Funded by the Gates Foundation, SC-US has conducted livestock vaccination and treatment campaigns in Ayesha and Dembal districts, providing four types of vaccines, veterinary instruments, and related field materials in December 2002. While a total of 243,847 and 116,330 heads of livestock were vaccinated, severe shortages of livestock drugs continue to be a problem.

Amhara Region

The Save the Children Alliance is operational in four Zones in the Region: North and South Wollo, Wag Hamra and North Gonder. Funding has been obtained through USAID/JEOP, the Netherlands government, the EU and the Norwegian Government.

Food and Water Distributions

Save the Children Denmark (SC-D) is operational in Gidan district in North Wollo. SC-D is strengthening its ongoing education work by providing school-feeding and nutritional support to 2,000 children and mothers, and by distributing grain to 4,189 people. The organisation will be providing 324 mt. of grain, and 8,775 litres of oil to malnourished children and drought-affected adults over the course of 2003 through DANIDA backing, and has also distributed 614 litres of oil, and 18 mt. of supplementary food to schools. SC-D is also focusing on awareness raising on childcare issues, employment growth schemes and income generating schemes in the district.

SC-Norway (SC-N) will be providing humanitarian relief to the tune of $540,000 through the Norwegian Government to West Belesa woreda in North Gonder. The organisation has also been involved in Dabat woreda in the same zone, providing $459,770 worth of relief assistance through the end of 2003. SC-N plans to set up 30 relief food centres in drought prone areas of the Region to help build up DPPC capacity. All Save the Children organisations will be involved in influencing the location of these sites.

In North and South Wollo, from January until March 2003, SC-UK delivered 2,432 mt. of grain funded by the EU. The organisation, meanwhile, plans to deliver 416 mt. and 276 mt. of USAID/JEOP funded food in these Zones until May 2003. In addition to providing relief, SC-UK is running a three-year USAID-funded programme that is designed to link relief and development in innovative ways by adding additional support to food relief to help farmers become self-sufficient. Finally, the organisation has been providing cash for relief to 52,300 people in select communities.

As part of a separate USAID grant, SC-UK's Relief to Development Programme in Wag Hamra and North Wollo will be providing 57,720 mt. of cereal to 137,000 in Sekota and Gubalafto over three years. As part of this, the organisation plans to deliver 19,240 mt. in 2003.

Oromiya Region

Save the Children Sweden (SC-S), SC-UK and SC-US are operational in East Shewa, East and West Hararghe and Borena Zones of Oromiya Region. $516,000 has been obtained through SC-Norway, and Save the Children Canada (SC-C) with the Canadian Government to test community based therapeutic feeding for malnourished children and lactating mothers in East Hararghe. The programme is being implemented through SC-UK. SC-S is undertaking food aid in Siraro woreda, one of 12 woredas in East Shewa Zone, through the Centre for Development Initiatives (CDI), a local NGO. Between them, the organisations are providing 1,006 mt. of supplementary food, 5,764 mt. of grain, and 14,678 litres of oil to beneficiaries in the region - SC-S's portion directly through schools.

SC-UK recently conducted an assessment of people's coping strategies in the region, alongside CARE and WFP. SC-UK has provided 2,100 mt. of food aid through USAID/JEOP in East Hararghe since December 2002, and will deliver 2,100 more through the end of May 2003. SC-UK will also provide a total of 352 mt. of supplementary food between January and May 2003. $516,000 has been obtained through SC-Norway, and Save the Children Canada (SC-C) with the Canadian Government to test community based therapeutic feeding for malnourished children and lactating mothers in East Hararghe. The programme is being implemented through SC-UK.

SC-US meanwhile, is focusing on supplementary feeding, early warning, and long-term income generation, through a seven year USAID-funded project in Borena district. Between December 2002 and January 2003, SC-US delivered 964 mt. of food in Oromiya, reaching a total of 51,964 beneficiaries.

Tigray Region

SC-S will be providing 116mt. of food aid from December 2002-June 2003 through a $57,471 SIDA grant, and will provide supplementary food to 13,000 children under five between February and April 2003.

Advocacy and Communications

The Save the Children Alliance has been involved in issuing joint appeals for the current drought in the country. The Alliance also issues joint press releases, and undertakes advocacy activities to highlight children's needs in the current crisis. The Save the Children Alliance for instance, will make a concerted effort to ensure that children's needs are met in future donor responses, and that donors meet their funding pledges. Save the Children Alliance members are also developing joint research on key issues pertaining to the current crisis, including issues of emergency preparedness, supplementary feeding, and the diversity of the food basket, among others. All Save the Children agencies, in particular SC-UK and SC-US, are involved in early warning and food security monitoring, in all the above Zones. Finally, the Save the Children Alliance has been working with the DPPC at the Federal, Regional and District level, to ensure emergency response is closely co-ordinated as well as continuing to build the capacity of the Government's emergency response. An example of this work for instance, is a programme funded by the Canadian Government through SC-C and SC-UK to support a $3.1 million programme of long term capacity building with the DPPC.

International Save the Children Alliance March 13th 2003


1 JEOP stands for Joint Emergency Operation Plan of USAID.