ETHIOPIA: Outlook bleak for several regions as crops fail
The assessment found water was scarce, high livestock deaths had affected herd sizes and more cases of malnutrition were being admitted for treatment in several zones of Ethiopia's Somali region
NAIROBI, 29 July 2008 (IRIN) - The humanitarian situation in Ethiopia's regions of Afar, Amhara, Somali and Tigray is likely to deteriorate because seasonal crops have failed and livestock numbers have fallen, according to preliminary findings of a recent assessment mission.
Widespread crop failure had led to critical food insecurity, prompting increased migration, the findings of the Disaster Prevention and Preparedness Agency (DPPA)-led multi-agency mission show.
In Somali Region, the assessment found water was scarce, high livestock deaths had affected herd sizes and more cases of malnutrition were being admitted for treatment in several zones. Without immediate humanitarian assistance, the number of needy could increase.
"Terms of trade continue to be against pastoralists, forcing them to sell two/three goats for 50kg of sorghum," according to the preliminary findings reported by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) on 28 July.
In Tigray, the numbers in need had dramatically increased due to the failure of belg (short rains) output. "The region received only 1.9 percent production from the planned estimate," it said. "Price increases have affected all wealth groups. Critical water shortage has been reported in five lowland areas of Raya Azabo and Alamata woredas."
The situation in Amhara was equally serious, with livestock in poor condition in the highlands of North and South Wollo and North Shoa zones, and increases of 200-300 percent in the price of staple foods.
|To avoid a further worsening of the food supply position of the affected people, there is an immediate need for contributions to the food aid pipeline |
Despite the worsening situation, the aid pipeline faced shortages. According to the UN World Food Programme (WFP), the national shortfall was 153,000MT, valued at US$124 million. WFP's own resources remained insufficient to meet requirements.
Meanwhile, diseases related to malnutrition such as diarrhoea, pulmonary, eye and skin infections were increasing among children in areas affected by food shortages, the World Health Organization (WHO) warned.
The nutrition situation, according to a WHO 14-20 July update, was deteriorating in Dire Dawa city, Hareri and Somali Regions as well as in East and West Hararghe Zones of Oromiya.
Malnutrition remained of high concern in Amhara, particularly in Menz Gera woreda of North Shoa zone. The situation had also deteriorated in Moyale woreda of Borena, Arsi Negelle woreda of East Shoa, and Girawa, Gursum, Meta and Bedeno woredas of East Hararghe zones.
In June, OCHA reported that in East Badawocho, Oromiya, global acute malnutrition (GAM) rates were 15.9 percent and severe acute malnutrition (SAM) 3.5 percent (with 2.2 percent oedema).
In Damot Pulaso, nutrition surveys found GAM rates of 16.7 percent and SAM at 2.9 percent. A GAM rate exceeding 15 percent reflects an emergency situation.
According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the number of people requiring emergency food assistance in Ethiopia until November is estimated at 4.6 million, an increase of 2.6 million people on the April estimate.
This number could increase further as an additional eight million people remain chronically food insecure. In its July Crop Prospects and Food Situation report, FAO said drought conditions had been reported across an extensive area of Ethiopia.
"To avoid a further worsening of the food supply position of the affected people, there is an immediate need for contributions to the food aid pipeline," it noted.