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Cablegate: Usg Humanitarian Assistance Team: Delays Disrupt Food Aid

VZCZCXYZ0001
OO RUEHWEB

DE RUEHDS #0152/01 0181105
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 181105Z JAN 08
FM AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 9228
INFO RUEHAE/AMEMBASSY ASMARA 2085
RUEHDJ/AMEMBASSY DJIBOUTI 8877
RUEHNR/AMEMBASSY NAIROBI 3335
RUEHBS/AMEMBASSY BRUSSELS 3059
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 4137
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON 2993
RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME 6350
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 7202
RUEHC/DEPT OF INTERIOR WASHDC
RUEHRC/DEPT OF AGRICULTURE WASHDC
RHMFIUU/HQ USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL//CCJ2/CCJ5/CCJS//
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC
RHMFISS/CJTF HOA
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC

UNCLAS ADDIS ABABA 000152

SIPDIS

STATE DEPARTMENT FOR A/S FRAZER, DAS AF JSWAN, AF/E, AF/PDPA, OES,
A/S PRM SAUERBREY, AND PRM/AFR
AFR/AA KALMQUIST, WWARREN, JBORNS, KNELSON, CTHOMPSON
DCHA/AA MHESS, GGOTTLIEB
DCHA/OFDA KLUU, ACONVERY, CCHAN, PMORRIS, KCHANNELL
DCHA/FFP JDWORKEN, PMOHAN, SANTHONY, PBERTOLIN
LONDON, PARIS, ROME FOR AFRICA WATCHER
CJTF-HOA AND USCENTCOM FOR POLAD
USDA/FAS FOR U/S PENN, RTILSWORTH, AND LPANASUK
NAIROBI FOR OFDA/ECARO JMYER, GPLATT, RFFPO NCOX, USAID/EA
ROME FOR AMBASSADOR, OHA, HSPANOS
BRUSSELS FOR USEU PBROWN
GENEVA FOR NKYLOH, RMA
USUN FOR FSHANKS
NSC FOR PMARCHAN

AIDAC
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EAID PHUM SENV EAGR PGOV ET
REF: A) ADDIS 3644
SUBJECT: USG HUMANITARIAN ASSISTANCE TEAM: DELAYS DISRUPT FOOD AID
IN ETHIOPIA'S SOMALI REGION


-------
Summary
-------

1. Between January 2 and 9, U.S. Government (USG) Humanitarian
Assistance Team (HAT) in Ethiopia staff, traveled to Degehabur and
Fik zones in Somali Region as part of a second field visit to assess
current humanitarian conditions. A primary focus of the field visit
was to assess the status of food aid deliveries to the region and
associated reports of logistical constraints and delays. USG HAT
staff note that although a portion of intended food aid to assist
vulnerable populations within the conflict-affected areas of Somali
Region has begun to be distributed, the majority of food designated
for distribution between October and December 2007 remains in
regional, zonal, and district capitals awaiting military escort to
final distribution points (FDPs) and beneficiaries. In addition,
USG HAT staff note delays and management concerns regarding the
transfer of funds for food handling costs associated with secondary
transport from the regional to district level.

2. Food assistance serves as a critical coping mechanism for
vulnerable populations in Somali Region, particularly during the
January to March jilal dry season. In the short-term, USG HAT staff
identify the delay in the delivery of food assistance as the most
significant threat to humanitarian conditions. USG HAT staff
emphasize that addressing delays is critical to prevent a
consumption crisis among vulnerable populations in the coming
months. End summary.

----------
BACKGROUND
----------

3. The Government of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia
(GFDRE) Disaster Prevention and Preparedness Agency (DPPA) is the
U.N. World Food Program's (WFP) main partner on all aspects of
relief operation implementation in Ethiopia. The DPPA and the
Regional Bureaus (DPPB) are responsible for food allocations,
dispatches, and distributions to beneficiaries. All emergency food
assistance is coordinated under the Food Aid Task Force led by the
DPPA.

--------------------------------------------- ------
ONLY A THIRD OF FOOD ASSISTANCE DISTRIBUTED TO DATE
--------------------------------------------- ------

4. To date, food aid distribution is largely confined to district
capitals with limited assistance reaching secondary food
distribution points and beneficiaries. As of January 17, 17,526
metric tons (MT) of the total 23,786 metric tons (MT) of emergency
food aid designated for the five conflict-affected zones in Somali
Region for October and November 2007, or approximately 74 percent,
has been dispatched from the regional warehouse in Dire Dawa to
district capitals. However, only 10,712 MT has been delivered to
FDPs, and only 8,191 MT, or approximately 34 percent, has actually
been distributed to beneficiaries. As of January 15, 1,536 MT of
the 2,792 MT of food assistance allocated for December had been
dispatched to zonal and district capitals, according to the WFP.
(Note: Dispatched food assistance refers only to food aid that has

been released from the regional warehouse in Dire Dawa for transport
to district capitals. This is distinct from distributed food aid
that has actually reached beneficiaries. End note.)

5. In addition, the majority of food rations distributed have been
incomplete, resulting from delivery delays and limited logistical
and management capacity. In Gunagado village, Degehabur Zone, USG
HAT staff observed monthly rations comprised of only five to six
kilograms (kg) of cereal per person, significantly less than the
allocated 15 kg of cereal per person per month. USG HAT staff
emphasize the need for improved distribution monitoring and DPPA/B
capacity building to facilitate improved targeting and
distribution.

--------------------------------------------- ---------
REQUIRED MILITARY ESCORTS RESULT IN SIGNIFICANT DELAYS
--------------------------------------------- ---------

6. GFDRE required military escorts for the transport of food
assistance within the conflict-affected areas of Somali Region has
resulted in significant delays. Military escorts are not required
from Jijiga to Kebribeyah towns within Jijiga zone. However,
required military escorts for onward travel from Kebribeyah town,
from the regional warehouse to other district capitals, and to all
secondary FDPs continue to hinder relief efforts. Protracted delays
resulting from uncoordinated and unpredictable military escorts have
led to high levels of frustration among truckers. Despite ENDF
expressions of willingness to escort food aid, a lack of available
trucks and limited logistical capacity hamper escorts, according to
the DPPA. USG HAT staff note that truckers interviewed in both
Degehabur and Fik zones reported delays of up to 20 days. Prior to
the military escort requirement, truckers reported an average of
five food aid deliveries per month, in contrast to the current
average of one delivery per month. USG HAT staff caution that
continued delays undermine the commercial viability of food aid
transport and threaten future WFP and DPPA trucking contracts in the
region.

7. However, USG HAT staff also note reports of slowly improving
access in recent weeks and months and increased WFP efforts to
address the problem. On January 6, a day after USG HAT staff
observed a 30-truck convoy delayed in Babile town, en route to Fik
town, Fik zone, from Jijiga town, Jijiga Zone, the convoy arrived in
Fik town. In addition, WFP has proposed an alternative to required
military escorts in the form of a civilian escort comprised of DPPA
and WFP staff to ease the logistical burden on the military.
According to WFP, the military commander in Harar has verbally
agreed to remove escort requirements along three main corridors,
including routes from Dira Dawa to Fik and Degehabur towns. WFP
reports that it is finalizing a formal proposal with DPPA to submit
to the military commander in Hahar in the coming days and that it
will continue to advocate for additional open corridors.

----------------------------------------
LIMITED CAPACITY AND LOGISITICAL LOGJAMS
----------------------------------------

8. WFP recognizes current staffing and capacity limitations within
WFP and DPPA to adequately implement and monitor food assistance

programming in Somali Region. In a December 31 meeting with USG HAT
staff, WFP attributed delays in the transfer of funds for offloading
and loading costs associated with secondary transport from the
regional to district level to DPPA management deficiencies. WFP
recommends a joint WFP/DPPA investigation to identify improved
mechanisms to address delays. WFP has also begun adjusting trucking
contracts to enable all money associated with onward food commodity
transport and storage to be provided directly to trucking companies,
eliminating the need for DPPA involvement at the regional level.

9. In addition, WFP is in the process of increasing international
staff presence to two staff per each of the four WFP offices in
Degehabur, Kebridahar, Jijiga, and Gode towns, in addition to
recruiting local monitoring staff. WFP has also recently hired
three local logistical coordinators and opened a joint WFP/DPPA
office in Dire Dawa to enhance logistical capacity, transparency and
efficiency. The purpose of the center is to upgrade current DPPA
systems, including a new logistics database encompassing route
optimization, truck contracts, convoy tracking, and food dispatches
and deliveries, as well as information sharing to increase
transparency and ENDF confidence in DPPA operations. (Note: USG HAT
and USAID/Ethiopia staff are scheduled to visit the Dire Dawa
logistics center the week of January 20. End note.)

----------
Conclusion
----------

10. USG HAT staff emphasize the need to address current delays in
the delivery of emergency food assistance to vulnerable population
in Somali Region to mitigate a humanitarian crisis in the coming
months. In the context of the poor performance of the 2007 gu and
deyr rains, restrictions on population and commercial movements, and
ongoing civil insecurity, the improved delivery of food assistance
is critical to prevent excess malnutrition and the erosion of coping
mechanisms. USG HAT staff acknowledge WFP efforts to address
current constraints and recommend continued USG financial and
political support to further assist beneficiary populations,
strengthen DPPA capacity, and improve access.

YAMAMOTO

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