Over 8 million in need of food aid

Over 8 million in need of food aid

 

ADDIS ABABA, 26 Jul 2002 (IRIN) - The Ethiopian government has warned that over eight million people are in

need of food aid after failed rains in the country.

 

According to the government's Disaster Prevention and Preparedness Commission (DPPC), a further 3.7 million

were in need of assistance, over and above the 5.2 million people it had warned at the beginning of the year

would need food aid.

 

The revised figure was announced by Birhane Gizaw, the DPPC's deputy commissioner, at a press conference

held in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, on Thursday. He said more than 2.3 million people began facing food

shortages after poor rains during the belg, or short rains, from March to May. Birhane said a further 1.4 million

people had been hit by poor rains during the meher, or long rains, due to start in June.

 

The total population in need of food aid was established following a countrywide survey conducted by the DPPC

over the last two weeks.

 

"The belg rains have been bad in many areas," a DDPC spokesman told IRIN. "They didn't totally fail, but they

were poor. We need more help from the international community, because at the time when we first made an

appeal we said only 5.2 million needed help. Now it is more."

 

Afar region, home to around 1.4 million people, is one of the areas hardest hit by a current drought. Assessment

teams from international organisations and the UN are conducting surveys to evaluate the scale of the problem

there.

 

But many farmers in areas in the highlands of Ethiopia are also living a hand-to-mouth existence and are in need

of help.

 

The DPPC spokesman added that the commission was planning to distribute 45,000 mt from the food aid

reserves which could only be used in emergencies. The international community would then top up the

reserves. Some 6,500 mt had been distributed so far all in Afar State.

 

[ENDS]