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Cablegate: Usaid/Dcha Field Trip and Assessment, Afar Region, Ethiopia

VZCZCXRO0346
RR RUEHROV
DE RUEHDS #2174/01 1930906
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 120906Z JUL 07
FM AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 6954
INFO RUCNIAD/IGAD COLLECTIVE
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
RHMFISS/CJTF HOA
RHMFIUU/HQ USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 4000

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 ADDIS ABABA 002174

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

USAID/DCHA FOR MHESS, GGOTTLIEB
DCHA/OFDA FOR KLUU, AFERRARA, ACONVERY, KCHANNELL
DCHA/FFP FOR WHAMMINK, JDWORKEN
AFR/AFR/EA FOR BDUNFORD
STATE FOR AF/E, AF/F AND PRM
USUN FOR T.MALY
USEU BRUSSELS FOR P.LERNER
USMISSION GENEVA FOR N.KYLOH
USMISSION UN ROME FOR R.NEWBERG

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EAID EAGR PREF ET
SUBJECT: USAID/DCHA FIELD TRIP AND ASSESSMENT, AFAR REGION, ETHIOPIA


1. SUMMARY. Drought in Ethiopia's Afar region has taken its toll on
pastoralists in woredas most affected by the failure of recent
rains, including Chifra, Uwa and Awra. While access to water is a
concern, the lack of browse, pasture, and fodder for livestock has
had a devastating impact on cattle and sheep, although goats and
camels are faring better. Early migration to the highlands has
taken place, but woreda officials report that pastoralists who
remained in the region have experienced from 40 to 70 percent
livestock deaths due to starvation. Most pastoralists ignored
warnings to destock during the early stages of the drought, with
many preferring to try to hold out until the next rainy season
starts in mid-July, due to low cattle prices and high transport
costs for animal trucking. Children's nutritional status has
declined somewhat, but the low level of severe acute malnutrition
(0.3 percent) does not warrant a blanket under-five response. UNICEF
and WFP continue their regular nutritional supplements program.
USAID/OFDA is responding through IRC to improve water supply. END
SUMMARY.

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2. USAID Office Of Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA) regional
advisors, water and sanitation technical advisor, and field officer,
and USAID Ethiopia Asset And Livelihood Transitions (ALT) officer
visited three affected Afar woredas June 27-30, meeting with
regional and woreda officials, Save the Children-UK staff and a
local NGO, Support to Sustainable Development, who briefed the USG
team on prevailing conditions in Chifra, Uwa and Awra woredas. Also
joining the assessment team was OFDA's Water, Sanitation, and
Hygiene (WASH) rapid response partner: the International Rescue
Committee's (IRC) water and sanitation program officer.

-------------------------------------
LACK OF RAINFALL CAUSE OF THE PROBLEM
-------------------------------------

3. Decreased rainfall earlier this year in northern Afar region has
resulted in drought conditions in a number of woredas such as
Chifra, Uwa, Awra and Telelek. Reports received from NGOs and the
Afar Region Disaster Prevention and Preparedness and Food Security
Bureau (DPFSB) highlighted unusual pastoralist migratory patterns
due to lack of browse and pasture, deteriorating livestock
conditions, high numbers of cattle deaths, plummeting livestock
prices, and outbreaks of acute watery diarrhea (AWD) among woreda
residents.

4. Chifra authorities report that up to 40 percent of cattle in the
woreda have died due to lack of pasture. There are two perennial
rivers in the woreda, but water ponds have dried up. In the woreda,
four of the five motorized boreholes are functional, while the
available water in five hand pump-operated boreholes has reduced
significantly. Weakened livestock must walk up to 35 kilometers to
access water sources. AWD cases were reported as early as January,
but the numbers appear to be declining.

5. Conditions in neighboring Uwa Woreda were similar to those
observed in Chifra--no browse, pasture or forage for cattle and
shoats--although the body conditions of goats and camels appeared
somewhat better. Woreda officials reported large numbers of cattle
and sheep deaths, abnormal pastoralist out-migration to the
highlands, cases of AWD and several cases of malnutrition. Water
sources in Uwa include one perennial river, two motorized boreholes,
and three hand pump-operated boreholes, of which one was not
operational. Five boreholes were drilled by the zonal water bureau
two years ago, but were never finished. As with Chifra, residents
are using perennial river water for both animal and human use.

6. Awra Woreda officials report scenarios more dire than Chifra and
Uwa, claiming that up to 70 percent of cattle that did not migrate
out of the woreda have died. The assessment team saw larger numbers
of dead cattle while traveling through this woreda. Pastoralists
were observed cutting down tops of trees to provide forage to
emaciated cattle. Water sources in this woreda include one
perennial river, three functioning motorized boreholes, one
functioning hand pump-operated borehole, and a number of deep and
shallow boreholes under construction by the regional water board.
Officials also reported several water sources in need of

ADDIS ABAB 00002174 002 OF 003


rehabilitation and repair.

7. While the Afar Regional Water Bureau has provided two pickup
trucks to transport water in jerry cans to the most seriously
affected kebeles, woreda officials consider this far from adequate.
They have requested water tankers from the Regional Water Bureau to
distribute water to four of the most affected kebeles, but this
request has not been processed. Cases of AWD were reported earlier
this season, but few new cases are being reported now.

---------------------------
GOVERNMENT AND UN RESPONSES
---------------------------

8. Productive Safety Net Program (PSNP) wheat allocations for April
and May have arrived in the woredas; distribution is scheduled for
beneficiaries in the coming week. UNICEF Expanded Outreach Strategy
(EOS) corn soy blend food for undernourished children has also been
received and is also scheduled for distribution.

---------------------------------------
IMPACT OF DROUGHT ON NUTRITIONAL STATUS
---------------------------------------

9. Reports that high numbers of children were malnourished due to
milk and food shortages prompted a formal nutritional survey in late
May 2007 by Save the Children-UK. The survey found global
malnutrition rates (GAM) at 11.1 percent and severe malnutrition
rates (SAM) at 0.3 percent.

------------------------------------
PREDICTIONS FOR 'KARMA' RAINY SEASON
------------------------------------

10. The USAID-supported Famine Early Warning System predicts that
the next rainy season for Afar Region, the 'karma' rains, will be
normal to above-normal.

--------------------------
EARLY WARNINGS DISREGARDED
--------------------------

11. COMMENT. While early warnings on drought conditions and impact
on pastoralist livelihoods were communicated months ago, most
pastoralists disregarded advice of NGOS, early warning agencies and
local officials to destock herds of cattle and goats, fearing low
livestock prices. A small number of herders sold stock and
transported breeding stock early on to highland grazing areas either
by truck or overland migration, but most declined this option,
deciding instead to take a wait-and-see stance. It is this majority
who are now dealing with the loss of their herds. Local officials
confirmed that pastoralists were advised to destock, however,
cultural beliefs that livestock numbers are a reflection of prestige
and wealth inhibit aggressive destocking options for afar
pastoralists.

12. COMMENT CONTINUED. The May 2007 nutrional survey results do not
justify a robust response for children under five years of age at
this time; however, USAID/OFDA is monitoring the food security
situation closely and is in discussion with partner agencies which
are responding with nutrition interventions. The karma rains are
expected to commence by mid-July and should have a positive impact
on pasture and water sources. In the meantime, the most critical
concerns are to maintain current water sources, assist local water
boards in repairing and completing non-functioning water sources,
prevent additional cases of AWD, and provide PSNP and EOS food to
vulnerable families. END COMMENT.

-----------------------------------
USAID/OFDA RESPONSE RECOMMENDATIONS
-----------------------------------

13. USAID/OFDA supports IRC to provide rapid WASH responses to
vulnerable communities. IRC will conduct a detailed assessment of
areas where pastoralists have migrated, and areas where existing
drinking water supply has significantly decreased. IRC will make

ADDIS ABAB 00002174 003 OF 003


recommendations for intervention in the region and coordinate
response activities with USAID/OFDA, and regional and woreda
officials. Preliminary observations suggest support to the
Government of Ethiopia for chlorination programs targeting migrated
pastoralists who use perennial river water for drinking, and repair
of existing infrastructure in areas where water supply is
declining.

14. USAID will continue to monitor the Afar drought situation,
liaise with Afar Region stakeholders on best response options, and
work with UN and operational agencies on contingency plans for
drought response in the event the expected 'karma' rains fail to
provide relief to vulnerable households and pastoralists in the
affected woredas.

YAMAMOTO

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