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Date: Sat, 17 Jul 1999 10:43:21 -0500 (CDT)
From: rich@pencil.math.missouri.edu (Rich Winkel)
Organization: PACH
Subject: DEVELOPMENT-ETHIOPIA: Five Million Face Starvation
Article: 70060
To: undisclosed-recipients:;
Message-ID: <bulk.21199.19990719061511@chumbly.math.missouri.edu>

/** ips.english: 403.0 **/
** Topic: DEVELOPMENT-ETHIOPIA: Five Million Face Starvation **
** Written 9:06 PM Jul 16, 1999 by newsdesk in cdp:ips.english **

Five Million Face Starvation

By Yemisrach Benalfew, IPS, 16 July 1999

ADDIS ABABA, July 16 (IPS)—Drought, believed to be similar to the one which claimed up to 300,000 lives in 1984, has hit Ethiopia, putting five million peasants at risk, according to a UN report.

The report, compiled by a United Nations team, which visited Ethiopia recently, says the most affected areas are South Tigray, Wag Hamra, as well as North and South Welo, East Harerge, Waleyika and Konso.

The drought has been caused by poor rainfalls in 1998. If the rains fail this season again, and the crops fail, people may die, warns Teferi Eshete, a local government official in Harar, one of the regions affected.

So far, no death, caused by starvation, has been reported in Ethiopia yet.

To avoid death from happening, the report says the peasants will require 386,586 metric tonnes up to the end of 1999, and non-food assistance in health, water and sanitation, nutrition and agriculture worth 7.5 million US Dollars.

The shortfall in pledges, till Jul 12, was 230,716 metric tonnes, according to the UN team. Of the 103,000 metric tonnes of cereals, pulses and supplementary emergency food, only 9,000 metric tonnes have been received from Canada, according to the UN World Food Programme (WFP), which is involved in the food distribution.

Under the programme, each peasant gets 50 kilogrammes of wheat per month from Ethiopia's Disaster Preparedness and Prevention Commission (DDPC), the main distributor of the emergency food aid.

The priority is given to the most affected, says Hiwot Ishetu, a local government official in Harar.

His colleague, Eshete says rains have been erratic and insufficient in Harar. Although they appealed for 24,000 metric tonnes of food for 163,000 people per month, they received only about 9000 metric tonnes, he says.

Faud Yesuf, a health official in Fadis district, Harerge, says 5120 children, under the age of five, are malnourished in ten peasant associations across the district. Acute cases of famine- related diarrhea and malaria have also been reported in the region, he says.

The UN Development Programme Emergencies Unit for Ethiopia (UNDP-EUE) has described the food security situation in Fadis as very serious as a result of crop loss in three consecutive bad seasons since 1997.

The rain was erratic, abnormal and unsatisfactory, it says.

Ethiopia, with a population of 60 million people, is not stranger to drought, famine, and flood. A major famine during 1972- 1974 killed an estimated 200,000 peasants.

In 1984-1985 another drought, which put 11 million people at risk, and hit the world headlines, killed more than 300,000 peasants in the north of the country, according to UN agencies, operating in Ethiopia at the time.

Environmentalists attribute drought and floods to El Nino/El Nina phenomena, a change in weather patterns. In 1991-92, El Nino- induced drought over much of southern and eastern Africa threatened 30 million people with malnutrition.

Kenya, Ethiopia's neighbour, was forced to import grain for the first time in nearly a decade and southern African grain imports increased overall from two million to seven million, according to the 1999 Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies report.

The 198-paged survey, titled 'World Disaster Report', says the economic loss to Africa's agricultural sector, blamed on El Nino/La Nina, for example, was estimated at a staggering 7 billion US Dollars (1992 prices)—20 times the value of 1993 World Bank loans to sub-Saharan agriculture.

But the toll on human life was even worse. Drought-related famine in Somalia claimed an estimated 500 to 1,000 victims each day. Djibouti, Ethiopia and Kenya also suffered heavy casualties, the report says.(END/IPS/yb/mn/99)