UNICEF Humanitarian Action: Ethiopia Donor Update 27 Jan 2003

Situation Report
Originally published
Urgent Funds Needed for Health/Nutrition and Water/Sanitation
  • 14.3 million people requiring humanitarian assistance

  • Eight of the eleven regions affected by the drought

  • US$ 23.5 million needed for 2003
1.  Emergency Overview and Recent Developments

The erratic and inadequate rainfall patterns in the first semester of 2002 dramatically reduced agricultural production and increased livestock mortality. This resulted in 6.3 million Ethiopians having to depend on emergency relief aid in 2002. This year, the Government of Ethiopia estimates that 14.3 million Ethiopians (or 20% of the total population) will be in need of dire assistance as the drought conditions worsen. The figure includes 11.3 million people needing immediate assistance and the remaining 3 million people requiring to be closely monitored. Out of the total affected population, some 6.3 million include children under the age of 15, with 2.3 million children under five.

Eight of the eleven regions are affected by the drought, including those traditionally food surplus-producing areas. If the prevailing drought conditions are not addressed, then the situation could lead into a major humanitarian disaster comparable to the drought of 1984 which resulted in the death of close to one million people. 

The assistance requirements are not only limited to the food sector. Needs are equally pressing for other sectors including health/nutrition, water/sanitation and emergency education. Access to drinking water and hygienic sanitation facilities has become a major problem in the drought-affected regions. The displacement of families and the struggle for survival has disrupted the already limited educational opportunities for children. The lack of access to education takes away opportunities from children to acquire basic life-skills, benefit from psychosocial counselling and participate in recreational activities. With 7.3% of the adult population infected by HIV/AIDS, Ethiopia is one of the severely-affected countries in the world. The pandemic of HIV/AIDS is also contributing to the effects of the drought crisis. 

The drought and displacement have undermined traditionally family and community cohesion. Traditional capacities and patterns of protection and care have been disrupted, placing children and women at heightened risk of physical and psychological trauma and exploitation. Documented instances of sexual exploitation of women and children, and increase in street children and child labour have occurred among some IDPs.   

2.  UNICEF Response: Activities and Achievements

ACCOMPLISHMENTS IN 2002                           

With the generous contributions from the governments of the Japan, Netherlands, Norway, UK and US, the National Committees for UNICEF of Hong Kong and Spain, and support from other partners, UNICEF was able to provide humanitarian assistance to the Ethiopian children and women in need. Some of these accomplishments include the following:

Health and Nutrition:

Essential drugs and other medical supplies were provided to the drought and conflict-affected populations, including internally displaced persons (IDPs), returnees and host communities in Afar, Somali and other regions. Emergency Programme on Immunization (EPI) services were strengthened through the provision of cold chain equipment in drought-affected areas. A first-round of polio immunization campaign was launched in Jijiga of Somali region, which was synchronized with neighbouring Somalia. UNICEF also played a key role in the area of emergency nutrition in the interventions in Somali region and in establishing the Emergency Nutrition Coordination Unit (ENCU).

Water and Sanitation

During the first semester of 2002, UNICEF's activities focussed on the rehabilitation of water systems in drought-affected areas in the country. Water and sanitation activities were undertaken in the regions of Afar, Tigray, Somali, Oromiya and Southern and Amhara. Some 2,500 latrines were constructed in schools, communities and households to benefit some 560,000 people. Another 136 Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Education (WASHE) committees were established and trained, and 84 pump/scheme caretakers were also trained. After July 2002, the focus shifted to support water distribution as the drought situation worsened. Some 190 new water supply schemes were constructed, 145 old water supply schemes rehabilitated and water tankering services provided. Water interventions benefited about 764,000 people in the six regions, representing 29 per cent of the population in need. In addition, UNICEF contributed to the Government efforts to mobilize further resources for the drought-affected regions.


During 2002, UNICEF remained the main agency to support the Government efforts to ensure the continuity of emergency education for the conflict-affected children. In Tigray and Afar, some 60,000 children of the IDP, returnees and host communities benefited from UNICEF-supported interventions. These activities included the provision of textbooks and teaching/learning materials, and support to temporary classrooms and teacher training. In addition, support was provided to the joint UNICEF-WFP school feeding programme.  

HIV/AIDS Prevention

Together with partner agencies such as UNAIDS, WHO, UNFPA, WFP and IOM, UNICEF maintained its efforts for the promotion of HIV/AIDS awareness. These activities particularly focussed to reduce the transmission of HIV infection among IDPs and the military.

Child Protection

For the children and women with special protection needs, UNICEF provided technical support for special assessments and care for affected children and women, and support to child tracing and/or reunification activities.

Mine-Risk Education

Within the UN Country Team Humanitarian Mine Action (HMA) programme, UNICEF supported the NGO partner Rehabilitation and Development Organization (RaDO), targeting the most vulnerable populations in Tigray and Afar regions. 


In 2003, UNICEF will continue to work closely with the Government's Disaster Prevention and Preparedness Commission (DPPC) and sister UN agencies, NGOs and other humanitarian partners working in the country.

Health and Nutrition

In conjunction with partner UN agencies and NGOs, UNICEF has supported the federal DPPC in conducting nutrition surveys as part of its early warning system to trigger relief response. Measles and vitamin A campaigns targeting 2.3 million children under the age of 15 were carried out. In the drought-affected regions of Afar and Oromia, UNICEF has assigned one international and two national officers to the Emergency Nutrition Co-ordination Unit of the DPPC, who are responsible for collecting, analysing and disseminating nutrition data and training health workers in conducting nutrition surveys and management of nutritional emergencies. Qualified public health experts have been assigned by UNICEF to Afar, Somali, Oromia and Benishangul Gumuz regions.

Further measles/vitamin A campaigns are planned for children under the age of 15 in the drought-affected areas. EPI and other child health services will be strengthened through the distribution of cold chain materials, training and social mobilization. Support will continue to be extended to DPPC's nutrition survey/surveillance programmes by providing nutrition survey kits, technical support and survey costs. UNICEF will procure therapeutic feeding supplies for the rehabilitation of severely malnourished children and for maintaining contingency stocks.

Water and Sanitation

Availability of and access to safe drinking water continues to be a problem for some millions of Ethiopians. UNICEF will continue to provide water tankering services in the target regions to respond to the safe water needs of the affected populations. Essential water equipment and tools for the rehabilitation and maintenance of water systems will be procured and provided to the target communities. In addition, support will be extended for the construction of new water supply schemes and on-site sanitation facilities. Training of hand-pump caretakers, pump operators and WASHE committees will be undertaken. Awareness campaigns will be organized in schools and IDP camps for the promotion of safe sanitation and hygiene practices. 


The displacement of families and the continued struggle for survival mean the complete disruption of children's education. During 2003, UNICEF will continue to work with WFP for the continuation and expansion of school feeding programme in drought-affected regions. While WFP is responsible for school feeding activities, UNICEF looks after the promotion of educational activities through the training of teachers, school administrators, education planners and child care givers. UNICEF also provides essential educational materials and school furniture.

UNICEF will also conduct rapid assessment on the educational and psychosocial needs of children in drought-affected areas. Temporary learning centres will be set-up at food distribution points to benefit children who do not have access to formal schooling. Education activities both in temporary as well as more permanent structures will focus on HIV/AIDS prevention, life-skills and counselling services. Sensitization messages targeting religious leaders, elders and community members of nomadic population on the importance of girls' education will be carried out.

HIV/AIDS Prevention

With an estimated 2.2 million people living with HIV/AIDS, including 200,000 children, Ethiopia has one of the largest HIV/AIDS-affected populations in the world. During the year, UNICEF will continue to provide education on HIV/AIDS prevention with a focus on behaviour change. Support will be provided to build the capacities of partners working with HIV/AIDS-affected people. UNICEF will also contribute toward further strengthening HIV/AIDS surveillance.

Child Protection

UNICEF interventions will aim to provide specialized assistance to the vulnerable groups (who face either physical or psychological exploitation) until conditions permit for the return to their communities. In particular, interventions for children and women in need of special protection include registration and data collection of unaccompanied children, parents who have lost their children and other vulnerable groups. Child friendly spaces will be established which will be include a package of basic services and will particularly focus on child-headed families.


Some 120,000 are estimated to be displaced in Bale Zone of Oromiya region, as well as in parts of Afar and Somali regions. In addition, as a result of the Ethiopia-Eritrea conflict, an estimated 60,000 people deported from Eritrea to drought-affected Tigray still live in vulnerable circumstances. UNICEF has been the main provider of shelter assistance for drought- and conflict-displaced populations in Ethiopia targeting women and children as the most vulnerable group of the displaced. UNICEF will continue to assist these people with non-food items including shelter, blankets, cooking and feeding materials.

Mine Risk Education

Despite the fact that hostilities between Ethiopia and Eritrea ceased in June 2000, many communities along the 1,000 km border still cannot access valuable land due to landmine and Unexploded Ordnance (UXO). Since these are some of the same communities most-affected by the drought, there is now greater risk that people will enter the contaminated areas to seek food and water, with a commensurate increase in the number of mine and UXO casualties. During the year, UNICEF will support the dissemination of mine risk education messages to the affected populations and others at risk. Support will be maintained to the Ethiopian Mine Action Office (EMAO) for the capacity building of its recently established Mine Risk Education Department. UNICEF will also conduct training workshops for mine personnel, and develop information materials for public awareness campaigns.

3.  2003 Appeal Requirements

As part of the Joint Government/UN Appeal launched in December 2002, UNICEF outlined a funding requirement of US$ 23.5 million to enable it to undertake interventions for the vulnerable children and women in the country, including those affected by the current drought. The table below shows the 2003 funding requirements, by sector:

Funds Required (US$)
Health and Nutrition
Water and Sanitation
HIV/AIDS Prevention
Gender and Child Protection
Mine Risk Education

Details of the Ethiopia Programme can be obtained from:

David S. Bassiouni
UNICEF Eritrea
Tel: +251-51-51-55
Fax: +251-51-16-28

Olivier Degreef
Tel: + 41 22 909 5546
Fax: + 41 22 909 5902

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