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Cablegate: Update On Snnpr and Oromiya Region Drought

VZCZCXYZ0003
OO RUEHWEB

DE RUEHDS #0987/01 1011323
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 101323Z APR 08
FM AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 0236
INFO RUEHAE/AMEMBASSY ASMARA 2478
RUEHDJ/AMEMBASSY DJIBOUTI 8971
RUEHNR/AMEMBASSY NAIROBI 3452
RUEHBS/AMEMBASSY BRUSSELS 3134
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 4229
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON 3066
RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME 6424
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 7330
RUEHC/DEPT OF INTERIOR WASHDC
RUEHRC/DEPT OF AGRICULTURE WASHDC
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC
RHMFISS/CJTF HOA
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC

UNCLAS ADDIS ABABA 000987

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, LKELLEY, KNELSON, CTHOMPSON, BDUMFORD
DCHA/AA MHESS, GGOTTLIEB
DCHA/OFDA KLUU, ACONVERY, CCHAN, PMORRIS, KCHANNELL
DCHA/FFP JBORNS, 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

AIDAC
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EAID PHUM SENV EAGR PGOV ET
REF: A)ADDIS 0727 B)ADDIS 0772
SUBJECT: UPDATE ON SNNPR AND OROMIYA REGION DROUGHT


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SUMMARY
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Begin summary. USAID Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance
(USAID/OFDA) staff traveled from March 11 to 18 to Southern Nations
Nationalities Peoples Region (SNNPR) and Oromiya regions to monitor
OFDA funded CONCERN and International Medical Corps (IMC) programs
and assess the current drought condition and impact on the nutrition
and health status of the population. The team met with woreda,
zonal, and regional government officials and community
representatives; attended emergency regional meetings and visited
USAID/OFDA funded nutrition programs. The team highlights
continuing food and water shortage for both human and animal
consumption, precarious nutrition conditions, and severe threat to
pastoral livelihoods in pocket areas of these two regions.
Assistance to support the Government of Ethiopia's (GoE) efforts to
mitigate the negative effects of the drought has commenced but
critical gaps remain. There is need to scale up animal nutrition
and health programs; water for human and animal consumption;
provision of general food ration to targeted affected areas; blanket
supplementary feeding to children under five, pregnant and lactating
women, and the elderly; as well as support to Ministry of Health
(MOH) to handle the increased load of malnourished children through
the community-based therapeutic care (CTC) approach such as
USAID-supported CONCERN and IMC programs. End Summary.

------------
Introduction
------------

1. From March 11 to 18, 2008, USAID Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster
Assistance (USAID/OFDA) Washington-based public health advisor and
Addis-based field monitor staff traveled to SNNPR and Oromiya
regions to assess the current drought condition and its impact on
the nutrition and health status of the population, and to monitor
non-governmental organization (NGO) partners IMC and CONCERN's
USAID/OFDA funded nutrition programs. The team with CONCERN and IMC
staff met woreda, zonal and regional government officials and
community representatives in Gurage, Sidama, Welayta, Dawro, and
Gedeo zones in SNNPR Region and Borena zone in Oromiya Region.

2. Currently several rapid health, nutrition, and food security
assessments have been conducted in hotspot areas in these two zones.
Several nutrition surveys are planned for April. However, timely
and appropriate response is needed now and is justified even in the
lack of global and severe acute malnutrition (SAM) prevalence data.
The current trends seen in the nutritional screenings that have been
conducted in recent weeks, coupled with the aggravating factors such
as drought, water scarcity, animal deaths, decreased access to food
and milk, among others, justify a timely and focused intervention to
prevent the loss of life and assets.

---------------------------
Borena Zone, Oromiya Region
---------------------------

3. Zonal authorities and non-governmental organization (NGO)
partners conducted a rapid assessment between February 28 and March
10, 2008 in 11 drought affected districts in the zone. The rapid
assessment in Yabello, Arero, Teletele, Dillo, Dire, Dhas, Moyale,
Miyo Dugda-dawa, Malka-soda and Bulehora districts reveals that the
drought situation in Borana Zone has deteriorated resulting in an
increased number of population in need of assistance from 88,000 (in
January 2008) to 314,407 out of which 19,314 are conflict displaced
populations (conflict between two districts for scarce water and
pasture resources). The population will need assistance from now to
June 2008 even if the Ganna rains begin thereby improving pasture
and water availability and increasing milk availability for the
affected population. As of March 15, the Ganna rains had not yet
started. There is concern that the rains may be delayed and when
they do start they will be sporadic and insufficient to regenerate
water sources and pasture.

4. Reports provided by the zonal authorities show that cases of
livestock death have increased in all the affected districts. To
date 17,204 animals have died in the eleven districts since early
January 2008. Populations in need of water assistance have
increased from 165,492 to 215,640 people. So far only 103,355
people have received one or two rounds of water distribution at a
rate of 0.4-1.2 liters per person per day. In addition there is
high pressure of human and livestock around water points resulting
in very long lines and wait time. According to zonal officials,
10,633 agro pastoralists in Yabello and Taltale districts need seeds
for the coming Ganna sowing season since they had a poor harvest and
seed stock from last year Ganna and Hagaya season. There is
increased charcoal and fire wood production in order to generate
additional income. School drop out has increased dramatically and
more than 29 schools have been closed in the districts due to lack
of water and associated stresses encountered.

5. The zonal agriculture officer stated that the cost of food in
the local market has doubled for grain products while the cost of
animals has decreased by half in some markets. For example, in
Dhaas District, the market price for an ox decreased from 3000 Birr
in 2007 to 1500 Birr currently and cows from 1800 Birr to 700 Birr.
The cost of maize in Dhaas district increased from 75-100 Birr in
2007 to 240 Birr per 100 kilograms, while in Dire district the price
increased from 150 Birr in 2007 to 300 Birr during the same time
period.

6. According to zonal health representatives, there will be a
measles vaccination campaign in April, 2008 in all districts in the
zone. Targeted measles vaccination had taken place in the past
month as a response to measles cases in specific peasant
associations. Thirteen emergency drug kits are available in the
Zone but the zonal health bureau anticipates the need for more
supplies as the water and nutrition situation deteriorates in the
next few months.

7. The response so far has included food distribution, animal
feeding, and water interventions. The Disaster Prevention and
Preparedness Commission/Bureau (DPPC) has distributed to date 15,668
quintal of maize and 2,886 quintal of corn soy blend to the 88,000
population in need identified in January 2008. The ration provides
some relief, however it is inadequate to meet the needs of the
population especially since they are reliant on this food for their
survival. Government and NGOs have started providing animal feeds
for 12,227 weak and lactating cows and calves in 19 selected sites
of Dire, Moyalle, Miyo, Dhas and Arero woredas to preserve the local
Borena breed. This may help save the breed but will not save the
livelihoods of the population. Additionally, NGO partners are
planning to start support to human nutrition intervention through
community therapeutic care in most affected districts.

8. The team visited two peasant associations in Dire District and
observed that women and the elderly looked very thin. Data from an
emergency screening conducted by the zonal authorities and NGOs in
late February reveals that 288 pregnant and lactating women were
malnourished in comparison to 63 from EOS data in December 07. Even
though culturally in Borena the children are fed at the expense of
other segments in the population, the under fives also are showing
an increase trend in malnutrition with 178 screened as malnourished
in February 08 versus 62 in December 07. The team observed
emaciated livestock (especially cows) at water points as well as on
the road. Villagers stated that they had lost numerous animals the
night of the team's visit.

------------
SNNPR Region
------------

9. The team visited the USAID/OFDA-supported CONCERN program in
Sodo and Mareko woredas, and the Butajira hospital and health center
in Guraghe zone. In addition, the team visited health facilities in
Bolososore woreda that were previously supported by OFDA through
IMC, and the currently IMC-supported health facilities in Gedeo, and
Dawro zones. The team also attended a child survival meeting in
Awasa where zonal officials and partner NGOs discussed the current
drought situation and identified responses and remaining gaps.

10. An inter agency team from NGOs working in SNNPR and the zonal
authorities conducted a rapid health, nutrition, and food security
assessment in Damot Pulasa, Damot Woyide, and Bolososore woredas in
Wolayita zone from March 7 to 12, 2008. The main problems
identified in this rapid assessment include lack of pasture and
acute water shortage for livestock, population pressure (very highly
populated area), water born diseases (diarrheal diseases); absence
of the Belg rain, lack of agricultural input and seed for the coming
season, high market prices of staple food such as maize and low
market price of livestock, high out-migration in search of casual
labor to nearby towns and state farms even though the pay for labor
has been in a sharp decline. Out of 792 children screened in the
three woredas, 74 were moderately malnourished and 53 were severely
malnourished.

11. Another multi agency rapid health, nutrition, and food security
assessment was conducted In Kindo Koyisha woreda in Wolyita Zone
from February 7-11, 2008. Out of 376 under five children screened,
28 were acutely malnourished. Access to water in the woreda is
getting more difficult with women having to travel longer distances
and longer time to fetch water (4-5 hours round trip). The woreda
has 23 kebeles with 28,753 safety net beneficiaries, 3,980 of those
receive food while the rest receive cash. The situation, though not
classified as serious warrants close monitoring. A follow-up visit
to Kindo Koyisha the first week of March 2008, reveals market prices
for maize increased from 175 Birr to 400 Birr, there is lack of
pasture and water for animals with animal emaciation and 375 deaths,
1399 children dropped out of school and the wilting of enset (false
banana used for food) and other trees.

--------------------------------------------- ---
OBSERVATION from visit with OFDA-Funded partners
--------------------------------------------- ---

--CONCERN--

12. The team visited the USAID/OFDA-supported CONCERN program at
Kella, Koshe, Butajira hospital and health center. The health
facility in Shashego reported treating 105 malnourished children in
March compared to 35 in February. In Mareko woreda the case load
increased to 108 SAM cases. The health facility staff are managing
the increased case load and requested minimal support to dispatch a
mobile outreach team to the 4 peasant associations where they have
identified that the malnourished children are coming from.

13. The team observed during the visits that there is a very active
and dedicated MOH staff with an assigned out patient program (OTP)
focal point and all nursing staff involved in the management of SAM.
Most health facilities are reporting regularly to the woredas on
the OTP activities. Screening for malnutrition and admission is on a
daily basis with weekly follow-up. Some of the health facilities
have included OTP services in their annual work plan. This is a
very positive outcome and denotes the serious effort the MOH and
staff are putting towards the treatment of malnutrition. However,
this would not have been possible without CONCERN's support,
guidance, and capacity building of the staff at woreda as well as
health facility level.

--IMC--

14. The visit with IMC provided the team an opportunity to see the
outcomes from a handover to the MOH of previously OFDA-funded
IMC-supported health facilities as well as facilities under active
IMC support. The Dola health post in Bolososore where IMC had
provided support in the past continues to function with support from
the MOH. Malnutrition screening and treatment is provided with
supervision from the woreda health staff. The team also visited
Mari health center in Mareka woreda, and the Tercha hospital where
IMC is currently supporting the MOH by providing training to staff
on the treatment of SAM. The success of the IMC nutrition program
can be attributed to IMC's approach of a facilitator and a full
partner with the MOH, in addition to a very co-operative and
dedicated Zonal and Woreda officials and MOH staff.

15. The current drought situation in Dawro Zone, Tocha and Mareka
has resulted in increased numbers of beneficiaries accessing OTP, as
well as cattle deaths. In Essera woreda there is a serious shortage
of water and increased diarrhea cases in addition to cattle deaths.
In Wolaitta Zone, Bolossore Woreda has lacked belg rain and is
experiencing water shortage, loss of sweet potato and other root
crops, and approximately 5,550 students have dropped out of school.
Close monitoring is needed in order to assist the MOH in mitigating
an increased deterioration in the nutritional situation.

--MOH--

16. The MOH, at all levels, spoke highly of the support provided by
IMC and CONCERN to the MOH run nutrition interventions. The MOH
stated that it is able to deal with the increased load of
malnourished children with some continued help by NGOs especially in
training of new staff and logistical support. However, if the
drought situation deteriorates with further lack of food and water
for both humans and animals, the case load of SAMs may reach
unmanageable proportions for the MOH. At that time further
assistance from partners will be needed such as expanding support to
several new woredas.
-------------------------------------------
Constraints facing CONCERN and IMC programs
------------------------------------------

17. The visited MOH-run health facilities supported by IMC and
CONCERN are able, to a certain point, to support an increase in the
number of children in the OTP. However, their main constraint will
be medicines for the treatment of these additional children as well
as the need for additional ready to use foods (RUF). This is a
problem due to the budgetary constraints at all levels of the health
system. Transportation costs for the RUF and additional medicines
needed for the treatment of malnourished children, from regional
level to zone to woreda to health facility are not part of the
health system budget. This creates major problems at the health
facility level when there is a break in the supply of these
nutritional products and medicines. NGOs such as IMC and Concern
have been filling this budgetary/logistical gap by transporting
nutritional products and drugs to health facilities. The problem
remains in areas where NGOs are not present.

18. Turn over of staff is another major constraint necessitating
constant need for training for new staff. USAID/OFDA NGO partners
with the MOH have been training all staff at health facilities in
the management of severe acute malnutrition in the hopes that some
capacity will remain, albeit reduced, when health staff are
reassigned or leave their posts.

19. Animal health and nutrition are deteriorating despite
supplementary animal feeding interventions supported by USAID and
other donors. This has a negative impact on the nutrition of
children since a major source of food, milk, is now lacking from the
diet. Furthermore, the impact of animal deaths will deplete the
livelihoods of pastoralist which will prolong the recovery of their
herds once the drought is over, meaning that access to milk will be
limited, impacting children and pregnant and lactating women and the
elderly.

20. Agricultural production has been impacted by the lack of rain
during the last growing season and the late start of the short
rains. Weather predictions for the Region are of below normal rain
fall. Currently root crops, which people consume to fill in the
hunger gap, have failed in pockets of Oromiya and SNNPR. The cost of
food in the local market has doubled for grain products while the
cost of animals has decreased by half in some markets. Prices of
food commodities on international market have increased, food
availability decreased, and the increased cost of transport due to
the increase in fuel prices are complicating the issues of relief
food. This means fewer people will be assisted for the same or
greater cost, which would lead to increased numbers of malnourished
populations and overwhelming of the fragile health system that will
be required to treat the malnourished.

21. Water for both human and animal consumption is becoming scarce.
Traditional water systems that used to contain water all year long
have been drying up. Provision of water by the government and NGOs
has begun in several areas in Oromiya and SNNPR. Lack of water has a
critical impact on the health and nutritional status of the
population especially children, with cases of diarrheal diseases on
the rise.

---------------
Recommendations
---------------

22. In order to save lives and livelihoods, the Government of
Ethiopia and the humanitarian community need to support first and
foremost adequate and diversified food rations to affected
populations for the next three months at a minimum.

23. To prevent moderate acute malnutrition, support a three months
blanket supplementary ration to children under five, pregnant and
lactating women, and the elderly.

24. To treat severe acute malnutrition, continue support to the MOH
through OFDA-supported CONCERN and IMC programs to solidify the
ability of the MOH to deal with malnourished children as part of the
health system. Additionally, USAID/OFDA's partners through programs
such as GOAL's Rapid Response Program in addition to CONCERN and
IMC, are pre-positioned in the affected areas to respond should the
health and nutrition situation deteriorate beyond the capacity of
the MOH.

25. Animal health and nutrition support as well as water
interventions for both humans and animals are critical for long term
nutritional well being of communities in order to protect productive
assets and safeguard lives. These efforts need to be intensified
and expanded.

26. USAID/OFDA should continue to closely monitor the affected
areas, provide as appropriate, and advocate for other donors to
provide assistance in a timely manner.

YAMAMOTO

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