The Famine Situation Continues – An Update for the Week
Addis Tribune- (04/14/00) By Our Staff Reporter
The world is descending on Gode in the Somali Region, but the problems are not over yet. Dirty drinking water, alarming levels of tuberculosis and fears of other diseases are stalking the survivors in the hard-hit town. Despite the arrival of food, and the set-up of the ‘air bridge’ from Nairobi for nutritional supplements by the Red Cross, the crisis is not over.
Apart from dirty water from almost the only remaining source, the Wabe Shebelle river, the major hurdle to overcome is
establishing therapeutic feeding to help coax those near death back to the living. In a situation as bad as in Gode and other parts of the Somali Region, standard food distribution is not enough – specialized feeding must be set up. This takes time and
Outside Gode, other areas are also hard hit particularly the zones of Adadle, Imi, and Denan. In these outlying areas it is
difficult to determine if sufficient food is arriving. Water is critical in the areas away from the river, where a few water tankers
run by Save the Children are trying to deal with the crisis. Another challenge is dealing with the diseases that are attacking the
fragile bodies of the hungry, as well as the nutritional feeding required to bring them back to health.
The main rains in the Gode area due from mid-March have still not materialized. Further north around Jijiga in Somali Region
there has been a sprinkling of rain, but not enough to alleviate worries. Soon, northern Somali could also descend into a serious
There is no good news from the north either. The long overdue Belg rains which looked promising a week ago have stopped
again. Clouds are returning, but will the rain start again and be sufficient? Nobody knows.
In the meantime, the food pipeline is running dry for the Belg producers just as the victims of the poor main harvest last year are beginning to be added to the food aid rosters. Despite claims from some sectors that the problem is lack of transport and
organization, the available food has been moving well into the northern areas. The problem is that food is running out. At the
local level, officials and farmers are waiting to hear how much they will receive in April.
The waiting game is on. Now it is only a matter of time before the big rains come and ironically provide the biggest threat to
hunger victims in the North. If these rains cut off the roads to the remote areas before food is pre-positioned, it will be a long
and hungry rainy season.