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World Vision Commits Ethiopia Famine Crisis Funds

For immediate release 18/08/03

World Vision Commits Funds To Ethiopia Famine Crisis

Caption: World Vision doctor, Dr Abele Bekera, examines Aster Belete, three years old, who arrived at the Feeding Centre three days before this photo was taken. She was semi conscious and is now alert. "It takes time for them to adapt to the milk," says Dr Bekele, who is pleased with her progress.

World Vision New Zealand is committing $20,000US ($34,000NZ) to help with relief in the drought-stricken Afar region in northeast Ethiopia, where some 740,000 people need aid.

World Vision's Communications Manager, Liz MacIntyre, who was in Ethiopia last month looking at the drought situation, said the babies and nursing mothers were the hardest hit.

"I visited a Therapeutic Feeding Centre in the Soddo district, in the south, and many of the young children there were just 'skin and bone', as the Ethiopian doctor expressed it."

However, Ms MacIntyre says, with a few days of intensive feeding and medical care, the turnaround can be remarkable. "Often within 10 or 11 days, the children are bright and alert and ready to go home. The family is given food aid and they're monitored quite closely by World Vision staff."

The rains were falling while Ms MacIntyre was there, and they're crucial for maize and sorghum, staple foods in Ethiopia, as well as coffee production, the country's biggest export earner.

A government assessment of the famine, just published, says the number of people affected now stands at 13.2 million. World Vision New Zealand has committed to funding a targetted supplementary feeding programme in Afar, which in addition to treating babies and pregnant women, will extend to reach school age children, thereby encouraging school attendance.

"During times of famine, children are too hungry to go to school, so we're setting up small scale feeding programmes in schools, in addition to community-based programmes," says Ms MacIntyre. "With the new school year starting next month, it's a timely operation and complements existing programmes such as school water and sanitation projects."

To contribute to World Vision's famine relief in Ethiopia, please ring 0800 80 2000.

For more information or for interviews, please contact Liz MacIntyre, (09) 356 0718

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