Ms. Carolyn McAskie, United Nations Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator in the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) traveled to Ethiopia on an official visit from 11 to 13 June 2003. She met with Prime Minister Meles Zenawi and Commissioner Simon Mechale of the Disaster Prevention and Preparedness Commission (DPPC) with whom she discussed issues of humanitarian concern within Ethiopia. Special attention was given to the situation in SNNPR (Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples Region) that has become the epicenter of the current humanitarian crises. The main objective of Ms. McAskie was to raise awareness among the international community about the current situation and to rally for continued support. Updated food aid requirements were released by DPPC in late April, but did not reflect current needs for non-food items. Accompanied by high-level officials from WFP and UNICEF, Ms. McAskie visited Sidama zone in SNNPR where she witnessed the ongoing relief operations in a Therapeutic Feeding Centre (TFC) for severely malnourished children. Ms McAskie stressed the need for intensified development efforts and an easing of the population pressure.
INCREASED CONTRIBUTIONS IMPROVE RELIEF FOOD PIPELINE - ADDITIONAL REQUIREMENTS ANTICIPATED FROM MID-YEAR ASSESSMENT
For the period June-December 2003, the relief food needs are currently 713,000 tonnes. For this period, the confirmed contributions total 617,000 tonnes to WFP, NGOs and bilateral contributions to the government's Disaster Prevention and Preparedness Commission (DPPC). There are also recent pledges that have been announced and are still under negotiation that total 25,000 tonnes. Assuming these pledges materialize, the projected shortfall to the end of the year would be around 70,000 tonnes. However, there will be a mid-year crop assessment for the minor "belg" rainy-season and for pastoralist areas, which is likely to identify additional people in need of assistance from August onwards: in 2002 the increased number of beneficiaries for the August-December period averaged 4 million per month; in 2001 the increase was over 1 million.
MORE THERAPEUTIC FEEDING CENTERS TO OPEN
UNICEF estimates that countrywide at least 60,000 children under five are malnourished, with thousands in urgent need of therapeutic feeding. Currently, UNICEF supports 26 therapeutic feeding centers (TFC), 10 of which are located in the SNNPR, the area most affected by malnutrition. Another 22 feeding centers are expected to open with UNICEF support by the end of this month. UNICEF support to TFCs includes technical assistance, equipment and supplies, training of health workers and provision of F75 and F100 therapeutic milk, a mix of mineral and vitamin enriched food for acute and severe malnutrition. To guarantee children do not need to return for treatment, UNICEF in collaboration with NGOs and the regional Disaster Preparedness and Prevention Bureaus is setting up more supplementary feeding sites. In the last month, UNICEF procured and distributed 1,000 tonnes of Famix, a blended combination used for supplementary food and 4,000 tonnes of UNIMIX is on its way from the port in Djibouti.
USE OF PROTOCOL ON TREATMENT OF SEVERE ACUTE MALNUTRITION SAVES LIVES IN TFC'S
The crucial factor in providing effective therapeutic feeding treatment is to ensure that children are properly diagnosed for different types of malnutrition. In the last few months, under the expertise of a UNICEF nutrition expert, a protocol has been developed, outlining step-by-step guidelines for the management of severe malnutrition. The introduction of this protocol and the training of health workers in how to use it have been crucial in saving the lives of hundreds of children who might not have survived even after they reached a feeding center. This year UNICEF has trained 530 health workers and on the 19th and 20th of June is hosting a National Consensus Meeting on the standardization of the protocol on treatment of severe acute malnutrition with the Ministry of Health and partner agencies. The intent is to integrate the protocol into standardizing the treatment across the country and to ensure F75 and F100 are included in Ethiopia's essential drug list.
NGOS AND FAO RESPONDING TO SEED SHORTAGE WITH SEED FAIRS AND COUPONS
As a response to the ongoing crisis in SNNPR the NGO World Vision is implementing a livelihood protection program in the region funded by OFDA. The objective of the project is to protect household assets and achieve sustained improvements in household food security for more than 120,000 people in 14 woredas of the SNNPR. The program uses the "seed fair" approach with coupons. Seed sellers and beneficiary farmers are brought together at a market place, using coupons as a currency for the purchase of quality seeds. The seed fair and coupon program is intended to strengthen local seed markets so that farmers in seed insecure communities have better access to local seeds. The project covers over 1,300 tonnes of different seeds for the current meher season. This week the NGO CARE-Ethiopia started a seed voucher distribution for the upcoming meher planting season in Anchar, Chiro, G/Koricha, Kuni and Meiso Woredas of West Hararghe Zone and Girawa, Kurfachele, Bedeno and Meyu Woredas of East Hararghe Zone. The distribution targets 86,000 beneficiaries in both zones. Total worth of the vouchers allocated for these areas is ETB 5,160,000 (US$ 600,698). The program will be completed in July. FAO in collaboration with Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) and Catholic Relief Secretariat (CRS) have also organized a seed fair in Kelela and Kalu woredas of South Wello last week. The seed fairs targets 2,000 beneficiaries and has been very successful so far.