Update on the Current Humanitarian Situation in Ethiopia 10

Update on the Current Humanitarian Situation in Ethiopia with a Special Focus on the Somali Region


General Weather Patterns


              As predicted earlier by the National Meteorology Services Agency (NMSA), the main

              kiremt rains began in the first week of June in the western and central parts of the country.

              The northern parts of Amhara region, where it began raining three weeks ago, were the first

              areas to receive kiremt rains this year.


              This early onset of the rains is favourable for land preparation and planting but the long-term

              forecast for the meher cropping season remains the subject of some discussion. NMSA

              forecast a generally good meher season while the regional Drought Monitoring Centre in

              Nairobi is a little more cautious, indicating for northern Ethiopia "enhanced probabilities for

              below normal to near-normal rainfall" while for the western and central areas there are

              "increased probabilities of near normal to below normal" rain patterns. The Drought

              Monitoring Centre also emphasizes that in areas that were severely affected by drought

              over the last year or more "the accumulated rainfall deficits may not be offset even if normal

              rainfall conditions are experienced between May and September."


              In the Somali region, the main gu rains were late by several weeks, and some areas only

              received ten full days of rains. Even so, the rains were very heavy, causing localized flooding

              and making some roads impassable. The southern and south-eastern lowlands of Ethiopia

              do not normally receive further rains until around October or November, so there remains a

              question as to whether the very short but heavy rains in May have been sufficient to

              produce enough pasture to last until the next rains.


              Relief Food Assistance


              Over the past few months the issue of the composition of the drought relief food basket has

              been discussed extensively and WFP now plans to include edible oil in their food deliveries

              to the most severely drought-affected areas from July onwards. The inclusion of oil, pulses

              and blended foods into their relief food deliveries are part of WFP's ongoing efforts to

              improve the composition of the food basket. Plans to purchase beans locally are currently

              being pursued.


              In other developments related to local food purchase, the Disaster Prevention and

              Preparedness Commission (DPPC) has been able to secure and to deliver to their

              warehouses 77,000 MT of grain out of a total of 100,000 MT committed by the Ethiopian

              government to the drought relief program. Compared to last week's figure this is an

              additional 12,000 MT.




              Clearance to operate the UN helicopter, which arrived from Kenya on 6 June, was

              obtained from the Ethiopian authorities on June 5. The medium-lift MI-8 helicopter is to be

              used to support drought related humanitarian operations mainly in the Somali region.


              The performance of the railway system has shown improvement with10,864 MT of various

              commodities being transported from Djibouti to Dire Dawa for refugee programs, internally

              displaced programs and drought relief programs between 16 May and 5 June.


              Secondary deliveries from the main warehouses to distribution points of sub-warehouses

              has also improved and recently averaged about 3,500 MT per day. However, there is still

              deep concern regarding tariffs charged for short-haul transport and further consultation is

              needed on this issue.


              Special Update on the Situation in the Somali National Regional State


              Gode has been at the centre of drought relief operations in the Somali region since the

              beginning of the year. The town has become a support base for UN relief operations in the

              central part of the region and a number of non-governmental organizations have launched

              emergency assistance programs in the town and surrounding area. ICRC have expanded

              their long-standing presence in Gode to enhance their drought relief program in the area.

              This special section provides a brief update on the situation in Gode Zone.




              Clashes between two sub-clans of the Abdalla clan, the Rer Qasin and Hassan Adan are

              reported to have taken place on 3 June in Bardo-Qorah, 25 km west of Gode. Fights

              erupted due to disagreement about land usage. Tension between the two groups is reported

              to have been high for the past eight months; attempts to mediate have so far been

              unsuccessful. Army, police, local administration, in conjunction with local elders and clan

              leaders, have joined forces to end the fighting and convince the Rer Qasin and Hassan

              Adan to negotiate.


              Tensions about land ownership have also been reported at Karinka, 60 km further to the

              southeast, near the town of Kelafo.


              Stress Migration, Internally Displaced Peoples


              Further unusual population movements have been observed into Gode and other local

              centers, such as Denan and Imi. The Ogaden Welfare Society (OWS) reports that around

              700 new arrivals came to Gode town during the last days of May. According to Save the

              Children/US (SCF-US) and Médicins sans Frontières/Belgium (MSF-Belgium) 7,000 new

              people are estimated to have arrived in Denan and the camp of internally displaced peoples

              outside of Denan between end of April and end of May. Since then, a further increase of

              population has been observed.


              Most of these migrants come from areas where no feeding centers have been set up. After

              completing an assessment mission to Gode, a field officer of the UN Emergencies Unit

              reported that farmers from Kelafo were complaining that food aid meant for this area had

              only arrived after some delay and in insufficient amounts. These same informants also

              indicated that needy people who still felt strong enough to move had migrated to Gode once

              they knew for sure that food aid and supplementary and therapeutic feeding were available



              While the search for drinking water initially seemed to be an important factor that made

              people decide to move, currently the existence of feeding centers and food distributions

              may be acting as a pull factor. Gode also has a special attraction for migrants, as there is a

              wide spread conviction in the whole of Somali region that Gode is receiving more

              international attention and services than any other area of the country.


              The Haraghe Catholic Secretariat, in a recent report on Shinille Zone of the Somali region,

              has also noted unusual population movements with large numbers of cattle moving in search

              of pasture. In the western part of the zone, beginning in mid-May, people and herds began

              to move towards Gedawit along the Awash-Gewane road while more recently large herds

              were observed moving towards the Deketa Valley. In both these cases it was reported that

              many animals had already died and that those on the move were in sick and in poor

              condition with significant losses taking place along the route. Another area of major concern

              was the high incidence various livestock diseases and ticks and the fear that pasteurolosis,

              blackleg, anthrax and foot and mouth disease would spread to the local herds.


              Relief food operations


              Although there are indications that food dispatches have improved recently, administrators

              and officials of the Disaster Preparedness and Prevention Bureau in Somali region have

              complained about the very slow pace of food aid deliveries. Less than the required amounts

              of food aid reached distribution points in Somali region from Jigjiga and Dire Dawa, and

              transport of food aid to some parts of the region began as late as mid-April.


              Another factor that slowed the operation down were the late but unusually heavy gu rains

              that resulted in food trucks aid getting stuck in floods, deep mud or in not being able to pass

              broken bridges. Local officials also complain that food deliveries are delayed due to lack of

              fuel and suitable trucks in the area.


              Livestock and Agriculture


              The late rains did improve pastures and the availability of drinking water for cattle and other

              livestock and there is now some increase in the availability of milk on the local markets.

              However, the heavy rains killed many weak animals and those that survived the drought are

              prone to suffer from enzootic diseases, such as endoparasities, ectoparasites,

              trypsansomiasis, bronchitis and mange. Camels and goats are reported to have faired

              slightly better and there is now good forage from the shrubs and trees.


              As the flood water along the banks of the Wabe Shebelle River recedes, farmers around

              Imi, Kelafo and Mustahil have begun to plant their fields.


              Health and Nutrition


              There are reports from the Somali region of epidemic malaria, measles, acute diarrhea,

              dysentery, pneumonia and a trebling of the incidence of tuberculosis over the past three

              months in both children and adult males. Gode hospital with a 40-bed capacity has doubled

              its patient intake. Most new admissions are severely malnourished children and adults

              suffering of tuberculosis. Deaths related to these diseases are reported. Anaemia, especially

              among pregnant women is reported to be very common.


              Health records in Gode indicate a five-fold increase in admission of children below 60%

              weight-for-height over the last six months - most of which were brought during the past

              three months.


              On 27 May, 2,764 beneficiaries were being fed in the ten supplementary feeding centers

              that have been established in Gode Zone so far. The number of beneficiaries in the feeding

              centers is still on the increase, mainly due to stress migration and the fact that previously

              discharged children are being returned to the feeding centers.




              The Gode town water supply system is in urgent need of maintenance and further

              development, especially as the additional influx of drought affected people is putting more

              demand on the system. What is currently needed most are spare parts and fuel to operate

              the pumps drawing water from the Shebelle River.


              Although the short but heavy rains have relieved the drinking water crisis, surface water,

              especially in ponds, is polluted, due to the accumulation of garbage, faeces, animal dung,

              etc., during the long dry spell. There is a serious health risk and chances are high that water

              borne diseases will spread. The internally displaced in the whole of Somali region are at

              most risk, as they often have no possibilities to boil or treat water before drinking it.


              UN Country Team Field Unit in Gode


              The United Nations Country Team (UNCT) has established a temporary Field Unit in

              Gode that provides common services and office space for all UN agencies operating in the

              area. The premises, leased from the regional administration, also include the offices of the

              local government-led Gode Task Force that acts as a main coordination and

              information-sharing platform for all humanitarian organizations operating in the area.


              A generator has now been installed and connected along with a HF radio system that

              provides voice communication and an e-mail service for both the UN and NGOs operating

              in the area.


              For more information please contact any of the following members of the UN Country


              (All numbers prefixed with +251 1, if calling from outside Ethiopia)


              Office of the UN Regional Humanitarian Coordinator, Rosa Malango: 44 44 00 (fax:


              Office of the UN Resident Coordinator: 51-10-25 (fax: 51-51-47)

              UN Emergencies Unit for Ethiopia, Caroline Stiebler: 51-37-25 (fax: 51-12-92)

              World Food Programme, Roberta Rossi: 51-51-88 (fax: 51-44-33)

              UNICEF, Venus Easwaran: 51-51-55 (fax: 51-16-28)

              WHO: 51-40-31 (fax: 53-15-50)

              FAO: 51-72-33 (fax: 51-52-66)

              UNHCR: 61-28-22 (fax: 61-16-66)

              UNDP: 51-51-77 (fax: 51-45-99)

              UNFPA: 51-19-80 (fax: 51-53-11)

              IOM: 51-16-73 (fax: 51-49-00)

              UNESCO: 51-39-53 (fax: 51-14-14)

              UNIDO: 51-51-77 (fax: 51-27-33)

              World Bank: 51-42-00 (fax: 51-14-41)

              IMF: 51-14-11 (fax: 51-11-18)

              ILO: 51-43-13 (fax: 51-45-99)




              The designations employed and the presentation of material in this document do not imply

              the expression of any opinion whatsoever of the UN concerning the legal status of any

              country, territory, city or area of its authorities, or concerning the delimitation of its frontiers

              or boundaries.


              10 June 2000


              UN Emergencies Unit for Ethiopia

              PO Box 60252

              Addis Ababa



              Tel.: (251) (1) 51-10-28/29

              Fax: (251) (1) 51-12-92


              E-mail: undp-eue@telecom.net.et