humanitarian agency says more than 76 thousand people in southern Ethiopia now
need emergency aid due to drought. The figure is nearly double the estimate of
International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies is launching a
revised appeal for $8 million for Ethiopia's Wolaiyta region. Three months ago,
the Ethiopian Red Cross began an emergency operation for some 40,000 people in
Damot Pulasa. That operation has now been expanded to include an additional
36,000 people in neighboring Damot Gale.
Violante, the federation's drought operations manager in Addis Ababa, says the
emergency assistance is just a stopgap measure.
"Obviously this is just aiming at
saving the lives of the people and improving their nutritional status. But (it)
will not empower the people to improve their resilience to future shocks. In
that regard, we are trying to implement early recovery activities like
distribution of seeds and other agro-related activities to improve their
production capacity," he says.
says that over the last few months living conditions have "deteriorated,"
adding that "people have exhausted all their resources and are unable to feed
"Flooding destroyed one of the
harvests and the drought didn't allow the farmers to cultivate following two
harvest periods," he says.
says last year floods and water logging caused by the November-December Meher
rains destroyed most of the maize, millet, haricot and tef root crops. This
year, he says, failure of the Belg rains, which normally come in March or
April, caused "catastrophic food insecurity and water shortages." Many hand dug
and shallow wells are dry.
make matters worse, people in the Wolaiyta region find it impossible to buy
food because prices have soared 330 percent in the past year.
says, "There are two clear reasons. The regional one that is affecting not only
the region but pretty much the entire world is the issue of increasing the oil
prices, which have had an enormous impact in the production of food. Second, in
general, Ethiopia is only able to produce about 60 percent of the food needs,
despite of the fact that 80 percent of the population is actually engaged in
food production activities."
the repeated failure of harvests, malnutrition rates have risen sharply,
especially among the elderly, children, disabled and pregnant and breastfeeding
of the latest reports from one of the organizations involved in nutrition in
the area shows that the global acute malnutrition (rate) stands around 17 to 19
percent, which is an enormous figure for that area, with a severe acute
malnutrition (rate) of around 3.1 percent, which is something extraordinary
once more, extraordinarily high," he says.
If the nearly $8 million dollar
appeal is met, the Ethiopian Red Cross will expand food aid, including
therapeutic feeding centers to deal with malnutrition. Also, seeds are being
distributed to those who have access to farmland. And for those who don't,
10,000 sheep will be distributed to rebuild livestock herds.
The International Federation of Red
Cross and Red Crescent Societies says longer term needs will be met through its
five year Africa Food Security Initiative, covering 15 countries, including