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Cablegate: Usg Humanitarian Assistance Team: Degehabur Zone Field

VZCZCXYZ0000
OO RUEHWEB

DE RUEHDS #0075/01 0101015
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 101015Z JAN 08
FM AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 9094
INFO RUEHAE/AMEMBASSY ASMARA 2055
RUEHDJ/AMEMBASSY DJIBOUTI 8853
RUEHNR/AMEMBASSY NAIROBI 3310
RUEHBS/AMEMBASSY BRUSSELS 3036
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 4113
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON 2970
RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME 6327
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 7167
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 000075

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 TMALY
NSC FOR PMARCHAN

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EAID PHUM SENV EAGR PGOV ET
REF: A) ADDIS 0027 B) ADDIS 0053
SUBJECT: USG HUMANITARIAN ASSISTANCE TEAM: DEGEHABUR ZONE FIELD
VISIT #1


-------
SUMMARY
-------

1. (U) Summary: Between December 27 and 30, the U.S. Government
(USG) Humanitarian Assistance Team (HAT) in Ethiopia program
officer, health and nutrition specialist, and safety and security
officer traveled to Jijiga and Degehabur zones in Somali Region as
part of an initial field visit to assess humanitarian conditions.
The purpose of the field visit was to raise the visibility of USG
presence, gather sectoral information with an emphasis on health and
nutrition (REF: ADDIS 0053), examine security and access issues
(REF: ADDIS 0027), and lay the groundwork for future USG HAT travel
in the region through meetings with regional, zonal, and local
officials. USG HAT staff also examined livelihood, food security,
and water and sanitation conditions. The poor performance of gu and
deyr rains in 2007 has negatively affected water and pasture
availability in parts of Somali Region, including Degehabur Zone.
In addition, local residents report that reduced commercial activity
and GFDRE restrictions on livestock and population movement are
further undermining livelihoods and food security. End summary.

-----------
Livelihoods
-----------

-- Commercial Food Trade --

2. (U) Delays in required military escorts in Degehabur Zone
continue to hinder commercial traffic. Military escorts are not
required from Jijiga to Degehabur towns, according to
non-governmental organizations and Ethiopia National Defense Forces
(ENDF) stationed in the area. However, commercial trucks are
currently delayed for weeks awaiting military escort for onward
travel from Degehabur town, according to U.N. staff and local
residents. The USG HAT did not observe any commercial traffic on
the road from Jijiga to Degehabur or along the 35 kilometers (km)
southeast of Degehabur that the team traveled. Local traders also
noted a decrease in overall commercial activity in the area.
However, villagers along the main road reported seeing a limited
number of commercial trucks in recent weeks.

3. (U) USG HAT staff report significant variation in commodity
prices within Degehabur and Fik zones. On December 28, USG HAT
staff interviewed a local merchant in Degehabur town. Based on
transactions with Fik traders, the local merchant reported that
commodity prices in Fik Zone are up to two and half times more
expensive, specifically in Garbo and Buhun districts. Reported
prices include 220 Ethiopian birr (ETB) for sugar in town, compared
to 700 ETB in the Fik districts; 280 ETB for rice, compared to 500
ETB; and 115 ETB for spaghetti packets, compared to 250 ETB.

-- Commercial Livestock Trade --

4. (U) General insecurity, border restrictions, and the increased
presence of the ENDF in the conflict-affected areas of Somali Region
have resulted in a significant reduction of commercial livestock
trade, according to local traders. Traders report that camel sales
have declined from an average of 500 camels per week, pre-conflict

escalation, to approximately 7 to 10 camels per week. Currently,
the primary market for camels in the area is for local slaughter due
to the absence of cross-border traders, representing the export
market. Local camel brokers emphasized that the decline in camel
sales is not due to supply, but to reduced demand from cross-border
traders reluctant to operate in the conflict-affected areas.

-- Livestock Movement --

5. (SBU) USG HAT staff received reports from local villages of
Government of the Federal Republic of Ethiopia (GFRDE) restrictions
on population and livestock movement in Degehabur Zone. In Sandihle
village, located 25 km south of Degehabur town, villagers reported
that the GFDRE had restricted livestock movement to prescribed areas
around the village. In addition, local residents stated that the
GFDRE required the local population to remain in fixed locations and
that only men, unaccompanied by women or children, were permitted to
move with livestock within the prescribed areas. In the context of
failed rains and reduced pasture, the restrictions are of
significant concern as it prevents populations from moving herds
greater distances to access available water and pasture. In Obale
village, located 123 km south of Jijiga town on the main road
leading to Degehabur, villagers also reported livestock movement
restrictions.

---------------
Food Assistance
---------------

6. (U) USG HAT staff report that dispersed and reduced food
distribution points (FDPs) are undermining local access to food
assistance in Degehabur Zone. In Obale village, residents reported
that Obale now serves as the consolidated FDP for six previous FDPs,
resulting in roundtrip distances between 30 and 66 km for former FDP
village food assistance beneficiaries. USG HAT staff note that food
distributions are primarily collected by women and children. Local
residents reported that men are reluctant to collect food assistance
due to security concerns regarding pervasive ENDF presence.

7. (U) USG HAT staff received similar accounts from local residents
in villages located southeast Degehabur town. In Sandihle village,
residents reported traveling 30 km roundtrip to the nearest FDP. In
Garowe village, one woman stated that she had not collected her food
aid allotment due to the six-hour roundtrip travel required.

--------------------
Water and Sanitation
--------------------

8. (U) The poor performance of gu and dyer rains in 2007 has
negatively impacted water availability in parts of Somali Region,
including Jijiga and Degehabur zones. Local communities along the
main road between Jijiga and Degehabur towns and points further
south reported reduced water access and availability. Villagers
stated that hand-dug water reservoir levels were at one-half to
two-third 2006 levels and reported a lack of transport to distant
water points.

9. (SBU) In Obale village, local residents reported reduced water

levels and, in one instance, military confiscation of a private
water reservoir. (Note: According to Obale residents, the ENDF has
been utilizing the local primary school as a military base for
approximately ten months, preventing children from attending
classes. The USG HAT observed the continued presence of military
personnel and vehicles at the school. End note.)

10. (U) In Sandihle village, residents reported limited water
availability. One woman estimated her family water usage at four
liters per person per day-less than a third of the Sphere standard
recommended 15 liters per person per day. Sandihle residents
indicated that a lack of transport to distant water points is a
significant obstacle to water access, due to a lack of pack animals.
USG HAT staff speculate that the lack of pack animals may be
related to reduced purchasing power, resulting from reduced
cross-border livestock trade, as well as the impact of restrictions
on internal movement within Somali Region on local trade activities.


----------
CONCLUSION
----------

11. (U) The collective impact of the poor performance of the gu and
deyr rains in 2007, reduced commercial trade, and GFDRE restrictions
on cross-border, population and livestock movement in the
conflict-affected areas of Somali Region are negatively affecting
livelihoods and food security in Degehabur Zone. In addition,
dispersed and reduced FDPs in the region are undermining beneficiary
access to food assistance.


YAMAMOTO

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