August 2002


                        BY SERIOUS FOOD SHORTAGES


August 2002


ADDIS ABABA – The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) warned today that serious food shortages are affecting millions of farmers and pastoralists in eastern, northern and southern Ethiopia due to exceptionally dry weather resulting from the partial failure of the "Belg" rains (February to May) and a late start of the main "Meher" rains (June to September).


 A monthly average of two million Ethiopians had already been identified to be in need of food aid for the second half of the year. But the poor performance of rainfall means a further two million will need also food assistance.


 In June and July, WFP along with donors and the Government of Ethiopia, conducted several joint inter-agency assessment missions, and found that the situation is particularly worrisome in the pastoralist region of Afar where rains have failed completely. At least one third of the 1.2 million people living in the Afar Region, northern Ethiopia, are in dire need of immediate food assistance through December.


 In Afar Region, both water resources and grazing lands are exhausted due to the total failure of “Sugum” rains (February to April) and a late start to the "Karma" rains (July to September). As a result, a large number of livestock have died and many of the remaining animals have migrated to neighbouring regions in search of pasture and water.


 While there are no reports of widespread acute malnutrition in Afar yet, the nutritional situation of children, women and the elderly is deteriorating rapidly.


 “A major step has to be taken to save the remaining breeding livestock from being lost. More food aid should be provided to the population, which in some areas is already migrating, in search of food and water,” said WFP Emergency Officer, Paul Turnbull, after returning from a fact-finding mission to the Afar Region.


 There are other areas requiring substantial amounts of extra food assistance due to the poor "Belg" rains: the eastern parts of Oromiya Region lowlands, several areas of the Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples Region, and the northern part of Somali Region.

 Given the gravity of the situation countrywide, the Ethiopian Government has announced that it is providing 45,000 tonnes of food to its needy population. While existing emergency food aid stocks will be distributed to the most vulnerable people, they are not adequate to cover the current food needs.


 The national Disaster Prevention and Preparedness Commission (DPPC), in close collaboration with WFP, has resumed delivering food to the most vulnerable people in Afar Region since June.


 In April, WFP approved a continuation of its emergency operation in Ethiopia aimed to feed over two million small-scale farmers and drought-affected pastoralists for twelve months at a cost of US$51 million. The operation aims to provide 40 percent of Ethiopia's total relief food aid requirements with the remainder to be covered by contributions to the Government and NGOs.


 Countrywide, there is an estimated shortfall of over 100,000 tonnes of food to the end of the year. People targeted for relief assistance receive basic food rations consisting of cereals and pulses while the most vulnerable groups -- children under five, pregnant and nursing mothers, the sick and the elderly-- receive supplementary rations of enriched blended foods.


 “WFP is appealing to the donor community to respond quickly with food aid donations to avert this serious situation from developing into widespread hunger and starvation,” said Turnbull.


 NB: Pictures taken recently in Afar Region are available for media organisations.



                                   *  *  *




        WFP is the United Nations’ front-line agency in the fight against global hunger. In 2001, WFP fed more than 77 million people in 82 countries including most of the world’s refugees and internally displaced people.


        WFP Global School Feeding Campaign -- As the largest provider of nutritious meals to poor school children, WFP has launched a global campaign aimed at ensuring the world’s 300 million undernourished children are educated.






 For more information please contact:


 Wagdi Othman

 Information Officer

 WFP Ethiopia

 Tel. +251-1-503801 or +251-9-201976