NEW YORK, 9 June (OCHA) - Although it is only 20 per cent funded, an innovative programme has made remarkable progress in reducing child deaths in Ethiopia this year. The Enhanced Outreach Strategy/Targeted Supplementary Feeding Programme for Child Survival (EOS) is a joint initiative of the Ministry of Health and Disaster Preparedness and Prevention Commission, together with the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and the World Food Programme (WFP), which targets nearly 7 million children under five years of age for nutrition screening, vitamin A supplements, immunizations and supplemental feeding.
To date, 5 million children in eight regions have been screened and supplied with vitamin A supplements. Four million children have been dewormed, and 2,200 health professionals have been trained in child survival interventions. And through its food component, the EOS is guaranteeing that women control the entire distribution process: 6,000 village women will be trained to receive, store, educate beneficiaries on nutrition and distribute food by the end of 2005.
One of the world's most neglected crises, Ethiopia suffers from acute and chronic food insecurity, affecting nine to 12 million people nationwide. That situation prompted the Government of Ethiopia, in conjunction with the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), to appeal for $272 million in humanitarian assistance at the beginning of 2005. In May, that number was revised upwards, to $320 million, after the number of aid beneficiaries jumped from 3.1 million to 3.8 million. To date, just over $150 million has been provided, leaving a shortfall of $170 million to meet the needs of the country's vulnerable population.
While funding covers nearly 65 per cent of requirements for food aid, 88 per cent of the country's non-food requirements remain unmet. Of the $135.6 million needed for non-food humanitarian assistance projects, only $30.6 million has been covered. This, in spite of a new study sponsored by UNICEF, which investigated child survival rates among the general population of rural Ethiopia during the 2002-2003 drought, and which has led to new understanding of the multiple causes of malnutrition.
Following the 2002-2003 drought, UNICEF sponsored the Ethiopia Child Survival Survey, which concentrated on 325 of Ethiopia's most food-insecure areas. The study found that, while overall child mortality levels were higher in drought-affected areas than in non-drought affected areas, that difference was more due to socio-economic factors than to the recent drought. The survey's findings also indicate that the large-scale relief effort carried out in 2002-2003 successfully prevented excess child deaths among the general population.
For further information, please call: Stephanie Bunker, OCHA New York, tel: 917 367 5126, mobile: 917 892 1679; Elizabeth Byrs, OCHA Geneva, tel: 41 22 917 2653, mobile 41(0) 79 473 4570.
- UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
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