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Cablegate: Usg Humanitarian Assistance Team Field Visit #3: Wash

VZCZCXYZ0007
OO RUEHWEB

DE RUEHDS #0315/01 0390843
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 080843Z FEB 08
FM AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 9474
INFO RUEHAE/AMEMBASSY ASMARA 2113
RUEHDJ/AMEMBASSY DJIBOUTI 8905
RUEHNR/AMEMBASSY NAIROBI 3366
RUEHBS/AMEMBASSY BRUSSELS 3085
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 4169
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON 3018
RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME 6375
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 7239
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 000315

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 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 B) ADDIS 0120
SUBJECT: USG HUMANITARIAN ASSISTANCE TEAM FIELD VISIT #3: WASH
UPDATE


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

1. Between January 15 and 21, U.S. Government (USG) Humanitarian
Assistance Team (HAT) in Ethiopia staff traveled to Gode and Korahe
zones in Somali Region as part of a third field visit to assess the
current humanitarian situation, including water, sanitation, and
hygiene conditions. The USG HAT visited communities along the
Wabeshebele River in Kelafo District and pastoralist communities in
Gode and Denan districts, Gode Zone, in addition to Kebridehar
District, Korahe Zone. USG HAT also discussed water and sanitation
conditions with representatives of U.N. agencies and international
and local non-governmental organizations (NGOs) operating in Gode
and Korahe zones, as well as local residents. USG HAT staff report
that although most ground water sources continue to provide water
for both human and livestock consumption, the collective impact of
the poor performance of the 2007 gu and dyer rains in parts of
Somali Region, damaged and non-operational water sources, and the
onset of the January to March jilal dry season indicate that chronic
regional water shortage conditions are expected to be more severe
than normal. USG HAT staff anticipate the need for emergency water
supply interventions to address deteriorating water quality and
availability in the coming weeks. End summary.

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

2. Somali Region confronts chronic water scarcity. The region is
dependent on a combination of water sources, including rivers,
boreholes, shallow hand-dug wells, and concrete-lined reservoirs
referred to as birkeds. Near the Wabeshabele River in Kelafo
District, surrounding villages draw water directly from the river.
During the January to March jilal dry season, many ground water
sources and birkeds dry up, forcing local populations to relocate
and congregate at remaining water sources. In addition, water from
both shallow wells and boreholes increases in salinity as the dry
season progresses, rendering water non-potable in some cases.

3. Poor water quality and hygiene practices contribute to high
incidences of diarrhea among children in Gode and Korahe zones.
Health facility staff and mobile health team data from Gode and
Korahe zones identify diarrhea as one of the top three illnesses
among children. Water quality is generally poor, particularly for
populations relying on water from rivers and birkeds. In addition,
USG HAT staff note that access to and use of hand soap appear to be
low based on interviews with villagers in several locations visited
in Gode and Korahe zones.

---------
GODE ZONE
---------

4. In Gode Zone, USG HAT staff assessed water availability in Denan
and Gode districts. In Denan town and the surrounding areas, USG
HAT visited a water tankering operation run by the local NGO Ogaden
Welfare and Development Association (OWDA) and several shallow wells
constructed in the nearby riverbed. The tankering project provides


water to the district health facility, an internally displaced
persons (IDP) camp, and schools in Denan town. USG HAT staff note
that riverbed wells used by Denan town residents for consumption and
household use are shallow, unprotected, and prone to contamination.
In addition, water levels typically decrease in February and March
making it difficult for families to collect adequate quantities of
water. However, OWDA is currently constructing a pipeline from a
borehole 12 kilometers outside of Denan to tap stands in the center
of town that will alleviate dry season water shortages and improve
water quality for local residents. In addition, the pipeline will
reduce the need for tankering services and allow tanker trucks to
distribute water to rural communities if needed. In outlying areas,
the depletion of shallow wells is projected, which will lead to
increased hardships for pastoral families and potential movement.

5. In Gode District, Gode Zone, USG HAT staff visited several USAID
Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance (USAID/OFDA)-funded
shallow well rehabilitation projects operated by CHF International.
USG HAT staff note that rehabilitated wells were productive but that
water quality varied. Rehabilitation efforts include the deepening
and lining of existing wells to increase production and water
quality, in addition to the construction of livestock troughs. USG
HAT staff recommend well rehabilitation interventions as an
effective strategy to improve water quality and increase water
availability during the annual dry seasons.

-----------
KORAHE ZONE
-----------

6. In El Hahd village approximately 7 kilometers (km) from
Kebridehar town, Korahe Zone, USG HAT staff report that an influx of
an undetermined number of displaced persons from surrounding areas
of Korahe Zone and pastoralists from other parts of the region are
straining available water sources. Approximately 20 shallow,
hand-dug wells provide water for human and livestock consumption in
El Hahd. Villagers and pastoralists expressed concern regarding the
increasing salinity of wells as the dry season progresses and
increased consumption from large congregations of livestock herds,
potentially leading to the early depletion of wells before the onset
of the April gu rains.

---------------------------
POOR WATER QUALITY CONCERNS
---------------------------

7. USG HAT staff note significant concerns regarding water quality
in Somali Region. Although water from boreholes is considered safe
for consumption, most families in outlying areas rely on shallow
hand-dug wells, birkeds, or river water. There are a small number
of protected wells fitted with hand pumps in the area. However, USG
HAT staff observed that most hand-dug wells were unprotected and
uncovered, permitting contamination of drinking water during
collection. Along the Wabeshabele River in Kelafo District, most
families draw water directly from the river which is highly turbid
and fecally contaminated. According to local officials, the
majority of families consume untreated water, including water
collected from rivers and birkeds. Boiling water requires fuel
which is expensive, and few viable alternatives for water

purification exist in the region. Poor water quality contributes to
high levels of waterborne diseases and an increased risk of acute
watery diarrhea (AWD) outbreaks.

8. Although the current number of AWD cases in the region is low,
USG HAT staff note that the there is a potential for an increase in
the coming months, particularly with the onset of the rainy season
in April. USG HAT staff note that in the event of an AWD outbreak,
emergency water treatment activities represent an important
intervention to reduce transmission. During the 2006-2007 AWD
outbreak, humanitarian agencies implemented emergency water
interventions in several locations of Somali Region, including the
installation of portable water treatment units to treat river water
and the distribution of household water disinfectants.

9. USG HAT staff note that the U.N. Children's Fund (UNICEF) and
NGOs are implementing several small-scale, household level water
treatment interventions in Gode and Korahe zones. In Kelafo
District, USAID/OFDA implementing partner Adventist Development and
Relief Agency (ADRA) is distributing Waterguard to families with
children enrolled in its supplementary feeding program. Waterguard
is a weak chlorine solution used to purify drinking water. In
addition, USAID/OFDA-funded UNICEF mobile health teams operating in
Gode Zone are distributing flocculent/disinfectant sachets to
families seeking health services. CHF International is also
planning to distribute Waterguard in 30 villages in Kelafo District
that predominantly rely on heavily contaminated river water for
consumption purposes. USG HAT staff note that although
interventions are small in scale, interventions are reaching
vulnerable populations representing families of ill or malnourished
children.

--------------------------------------------
WATER SHORTAGE CONDITIONS VARY ACROSS REGION
--------------------------------------------

10. Somali Region is prone to water shortages, but current water
availability conditions vary across the region. However, the
current January to March dry season is expected to be more severe
than normal, according to UNICEF. UNICEF reports severe water
shortages in eastern Warder Zone, resulting from the depletion of
birkeds. In addition, the U.N. reports that the Ethiopian National
Defense Forces (ENDF) are restricting access to productive birkeds
in western Warder Zone. In several areas of Warder Zone, residents
are already purchasing water from private water tankering
operations. As a result of the poor performance of the deyr rains,
many people from Danot District, Warder Zone, have migrated to
Korahe Zone in search of water where boreholes and shallow wells are
still productive, according to the U.N. agencies and NGOs operating
in the area. However, water availability in Fik Zone is better due
to the comparatively better performance of the 2007 rains and the
presence of large numbers of hand-dug wells.

11. UNICEF reports that water tankering will be required in parts
of Warder, Degahabur, Gode, and Korahe Zones beginning in February
and possibly expanding to other areas in March. Significant
distances to water points, up to 175 km in some cases, increase the
costs of tankering operations. However, UNICEF reports that due to
the severity of the water crisis in some areas, water tankering is

the only viable option available.

12. USG HAT staff note that borehole water will become increasingly
important in the coming weeks as other water sources are depleted,
such as birkeds and shallow wells. However, a number of boreholes
in Warder and Korahe zones are either non-operational or producing
under capacity due to damage and needed repairs. UNICEF and Action
Contre La Faim (ACF) have identified the rehabilitation and
maintenance of existing boreholes in Somali Region as a top
priority. UNICEF reported that it is scheduled to rehabilitate
approximately 28 boreholes in the coming weeks.

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

13. USG HAT staff report that the current dry season is expected to
be more severe than normal and that some parts of Somali Region are
already facing severe water shortages. In addition, USG HAT staff
note that water quality in the region is generally poor,
contributing to increased incidents of water-related diseases,
including diarrhea among children. USG HAT staff identify the need
for immediate emergency water interventions, including the repair
and maintenance of borehole wells and water tankering. UNICEF and
ACF have prioritized borehole repairs and maintenance to augment
available water supplies. In addition, UNICEF reports that
emergency water tankering operations will be required in parts of
Somali Region beginning in February. With the onset of the April
rainy season, addressing water-related disease transmission through
additional water treatment interventions will become increasing
important. NGO and U.N. agencies are implementing several
small-scale water treatment interventions in the region that can
potentially be expanded if needs increase. USG HAT staff will
continue to closely monitor the water situation in Somali Region in
the coming months leading up to the April gu rains. In the longer
term, USG HAT staff recommend support for hand-dug well and birked
rehabilitation to mitigate chronic water shortages.

YAMAMOTO

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