UNICEF Emergency Programmes: Ethiopia Donor Update 14 Feb 2000

1. Emergency overview and recent developments
The 20-month border conflict with Eritrea, which began in May 1998, shows no sign of ending and over 300,000 people remain displaced, mostly in Tigray region in Northern Ethiopia. UNICEF has been the main provider of non-food assistance working through well-organised local counterparts, and where necessary to ensure the quickest possible impact, NGOs. In addition to multi-sectoral emergency interventions, UNICEF has also supported an innovative community-based land mine education awareness project targeting displaced people before they return to their home areas.

However, there is a significantly larger scale of humanitarian need looming in Ethiopia for some 7.73 million people at risk due to the effects of prolonged drought. The Ethiopian Government estimates that 900,000 Mts. of food aid will be required in 2000. WFP is seeking 250,000 Mts. to meet these emergency needs. In areas hard hit by drought, basic services are severely stretched, malnutrition has become widespread and vulnerability to disease and mortality are on the increase. Child school enrolment is being affected, threatening to reverse noteable gains of the last few years. Although substantial food deliveries are presently underway, the bulk of these will be repayments to the Ethiopian Food Security Reserve. As a result, carry over food stocks for 2000 are minimal and continued large scale donor response is vital to prevent a rapid increase in child morbidity and mortality.

With the second highest population of any country in Africa, Ethiopia is one of the world's poorest countries, ranked 172 out of 174 in the 1999 UNDP Development Index report. It also has one of the world's highest levels of stunting among children due to under nutrition (64%), low net primary school enrolment (24.9%), poor access to safe drinking water and poor health care services. Ethiopia presently has an increasing rate of HIV/AIDs infection with over 3.2 million cases reported. In conditions of extreme stress exacerbated by the current food shortages--that exceed normal patterns of drought and hardship--traditional coping mechanisms and safety nets are being virtually wiped out.

It is becoming clear that crops have been negatively affected by a number of factors that vary from one part of the country to another. Some areas have been caught in the prolonged after-effects of the poor belg (short rains) season, which disrupted the normal farming cycle and resulted in delayed planting of main season crops. In addition, some parts of the country suffered subsequent crop losses due to pest infestation and local flooding. In many chronically food insecure areas such as Welo, parts of Gondar and parts of southern Ethiopia (Konso and Borena for example), farmers and agro-pastoralists have been pushed to the limit of their ability to cope with the gradual erosion of assets and decrease of food production. The decimation of plough animals and overall erosion of assets will prevent many people from being able to prepare for the next agricultural season, particularly the belg, which normally begins in January.

In the pastoral and agro-pastoral areas of southern and eastern Ethiopia, including the Ogaden region, the late arrival of the main gu rains in the east, south and south-east, resulted in high livestock losses and weakening of herds. In Gode zone of the Ogaden, over 60% of the cattle have reportedly died since November. This is manifesting itself in increasing levels of malnutrition and migration in search of relief aid.

In 1999, areas not normally considered drought prone have also been affected by poor climactic conditions including lack of rain, local flooding, hail, and pest and weed infestation. The pressures on governmental institutions to respond to the needs in the traditionally vulnerable areas such as Welo, Tigray, or Hararghe, have made it difficult to allocate limited resources to areas where the resource base is thought to be much better.

2. Summary of 2000 Appeal requirement

Within the framework of the UN Ethiopia Country Team Appeal, UNICEF has requested a total of US$ 7,719,900 to support emergency operations from February-December 2000 following an appeal launch on 28 January for activities in the following areas:.

Total UNICEF budgets (includes direct support costs)

IDPs ($)
Drought ($)
Priority funding Needs
Water & Sanitation
Relief /Shelter

*Children and Women with Special Protection Needs

UNICEF’s emergency programme response in these areas will be based on core project interventions as recently developed in a country office workshop on strengthening programme cohesion and emergency response. These include support to EPI and health education, provision of relief and shelter supplies and protection of water sources and water tanking. In addition, these programmes will promote to continuous enrolment of children in school, rapid assessment of separated, unaccompanied children and displaced female headed households.

3. UNICEF's response: Activities, Achievements and Constraints

In 1999, UNICEF Ethiopia provided emergency assistance for displaced people in the northern Ethiopia regions of Tigray (316,000) and Afar (26,000). Many of the displaced live in makeshift shelters or in overcrowded conditions among the host community. Although Tigray region, where most of the displacements have occurred, benefits from a well motivated and organised human infrastructure, shortfalls in relief supply assistance and the extended circumstances of displacement have compelled an ongoing level of emergency assistance. Emergency assistance has intentionally covered critical needs of host communities with limited basic services.

During 1999, repeated failed short rains in marginal agricultural areas possessing high population density, particularly in northern and southern highland areas (South Tigray, Amhara, Oromia and Southern Peoples regions) have led to the largest food relief needs in Ethiopia since the 1980s. UNICEF has worked with the Government and UN/NGO partners to respond to both short term needs such as blankets for shelter as well as for long term essentials of repair and expansion of safe water supply and EPI cold chain systems, to strengthen child immunisation capacities in worst hit areas.

Following is a brief description of activities targeted to various sectors:

Health: Expansion of cold chain and provision of vaccines for EPI to displaced areas as well as drought affected target zones; provision of TBA kits, transportation for medical referrals, ORS and Vitamin A capsules for displaced populations and training of EPI and MCH staff including 175 TBAs and 35 CHWs.

Nutrition: Monitoring and analysis of national nutrition response for drought affected areas including recommendations and a joint initiative with WFP to strengthen child health/nutrition indicator monitoring to enable more effective response at community, regional and national levels including better targeting of general and supplementary food rations.

Water and Environmental Sanitation: Expanded access to safe drinking water for some 30,000 displaced and 15,000 drought affected people in Tigray, East Harage, Konso and Liban zones through repair and rehabilitation of water points, supply of tanks and distribution systems. Construction of community latrines in rural areas and establishment of waste collection systems in urban areas to reduce disease prevalence.

Education: Procurement of education materials including exercise books, pencils, chalk and black boards to benefit some 50,000 displaced children due to the conflict with Eritrea. This has included construction of temporary classrooms using local materials, benches and desks and training of teachers in issues affecting displaced children. With WFP, UNICEF has prepared a year 2000 proposal for emergency school feeding for over 100,000 children in drought affected areas to reverse increasing indications of drop in enrolment levels.

Children and Women in Need of Special Protection: Support to separated children in Tigray region, execution of a special survey planned and conducted jointly with UNICEF Eritrea to assess the magnitude and prevalence of separated and unaccompanied children due to the conflict. Technical support and guidance to a community-based joint land mine awareness education project in Tigray, implemented with a local NGO, targeting displaced families in areas contaminated by land mines.

Relief, monitoring and co-ordination: Provision of blankets, plastic sheeting and treated mosquito nets to benefit over 7,000 mostly displaced families in Tigray, as well as a number of population affected by floods in August. In addition, UNICEF maintained an emergency field presence in a shared office premise with WFP in Mekelle, Tigray with technically diverse project staff who on average spent 13% of their time in the field. In Addis Ababa, UNICEF’s Emergency/Disaster Mitigation Unit, working under the UNICEF Representative, maintains contact and co-ordinates with office programme and operations sections, UN agencies (particularly WFP, UNDP Emergency Unit and WHO), local and international NGOs and government counterparts, the Disaster Preparedness and Prevention Commission (DPPC).

Constraints have included difficulties in working within an increasingly decentralised but still highly bureaucratic programme environment at national and sub-national levels. Weak information management and exchange on critical needs of women and children (especially in the drought areas) have been some major obstacles.

4. Funding received for the 1999 Appeal

1999 Contributions by Donor
Income (US$)
Health, WES, Education, CWSPN and Relief—all for war displaced populations in Tigray and Afar
Essential drugs for war displaced populations in Tigray
EPI Cold Chain, Water parts and equipment, urban sanitation and procurement of blankets—all for drought affected populations

5. Impact of Under-funding

Due to the insufficient funding in 1999, UNICEF was not able to make a major contribution in mitigating the effects of the drought on needy households. The 1999 appeal’s primary focus was to strengthen the nutritional surveillance management systems at national and sub-national levels, which has largely been collapsed in Ethiopia. Adequate donor contributions will be essential in the first quarter of 2000 to ensure meaningful interventions to mitigate large-scale suffering of women and children.

Details of these projects can be provided upon request to:

Ibrahim Jabr
UNICEF Representative
Addis Ababa
Tel: 251-1-517648
Fax: 251-1-511628

Robin Medforth-Mills
Tel: + 1 212 326 7009
Fax: +41 22 909 5902

Dan Rohrmann
New York
Tel: + 1 212 326 7009
Fax: + 1 212 326 7165

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