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Cablegate: Ethiopia's Humanitarian Outlook - Floods Update

VZCZCXRO8312
OO RUEHROV
DE RUEHDS #2876/01 2631238
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 201238Z SEP 07
FM AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 7911
INFO RUCNIAD/IGAD COLLECTIVE
RUEHBS/AMEMBASSY BRUSSELS 2981
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 4026
RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME 6274
RUEHC/DEPT OF INTERIOR WASHINGTON DC
RUEHRC/DEPT OF AGRICULTURE WASHDC
RHMFIUU/HQ USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL
RUEKDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC
RHMFISS/CJTF HOA
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 05 ADDIS ABABA 002876

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

DCHA/AA MHESS, GGOTTLIEB
AFR/AA KALMQUIST, WWARREN, JBORNS
DCHA/OFDA KLUU, ACONVERY, PMORRIS, KCHANNELL
AFR/EA KNELSON, BDUNFORD, CTHOMPSON
DCHA/FFP WHAMMINK, JDWORKEN, PMOHAN, SANTHONY, PBERTOLIN
STATE DEPARTMENT FOR A/S AF FRAZER, DAS AF JSWAN, AF/E, AF/PDPA,
OES, A/S PRM SAUERBREY, AND PRM/AFR LONDON, PARIS, ROME FOR AFRICA
WATCHER
CJTF-HOA AND USCENTCOM FOR POLAD
USDA/FAS FOR U/S PENN, MCHAMBLISS, RTILSWORTH, AND LPANASUK
NAIROBI FOR OFDA/ECARO JMYER, GPLATT, RFFPO NCOX, USAID/EA
ROME FOR AMBASSADOR, OHA
BRUSSELS FOR USEU PBROWN
GENEVA FOR NKYLOH, RMA
ROME FOR HSPANOS
USUN FOR TMALY
NSC FOR CHUDSON, JMELINE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EAID EAGR ET PHUM PGOV PREF MOPS
SUBJECT: ETHIOPIA'S HUMANITARIAN OUTLOOK - FLOODS UPDATE

1. SUMMARY: The overall humanitarian outlook in Ethiopia for the
remainder of 2007 is cause for concern. While some areas of the
country are particularly fragile, the combination of flooding,
emerging nutrition hotspots, continued outbreaks of acute watery
diarrhea (AWD), poor belg season rains, delayed food responses,
current restrictions on trade and movement in Somali Region and
resulting humanitarian implications, and food insecurity in the
lowlands of Oromiya is increasing vulnerability of the 8 million
people, including safety net beneficiaries, identified as at-risk in
Ethiopia, according to FEWSNET.

2. Torrential rains, overflowing lakes and rivers over the last
several weeks have resulted in displacement of many communities and
damage to crops, livestock and food supplies. Flooding continues to
pose a significant risk as alarming increases in dam and river water
levels are reported in Ethiopia with Amhara, Gambella and SNNP
currently the most affected regions. The situation has been further
aggravated by a rise in cases of AWD. The United Nations (UN)
estimates more than 200,000 people have been affected by floods this
year. The Disaster Preparedness and Prevention Agency (DPPA)
estimates over 60,000 people are temporarily displaced. These
figures reflect estimates and could increase once the joint DPPA/UN
assessment teams conclude analysis. USAID/OFDA staff joined in part
of the field assessments. While numbers continue to climb, the
death toll from flooding has reached 17 people, while some 4,000
head of livestock have been drowned or washed away, and 51,000
hectares of crops have been damaged. The Government of Ethiopia
(GOE)-led national flood contingency plan was released last month
and flood response efforts are underway. The severity of the
flooding to date has not yet reached the magnitude of the 2006
floods which devastated the country. While still very weak,
improved early warning and preparedness efforts have mitigated
greater loss of lives. It is too early to ascertain overall flood
impact, as flooding in the eastern and southern parts of the country
may occur through November. End summary.

--------------------------------------
Early Warning and Contingency Planning
--------------------------------------
3. In 2006, unprecedented nationwide flooding occurred on the heels
of the drought the same year, affecting most parts of the country.
The nationwide floods of 2006 killed more than 600 people,
temporarily displaced 200,000 and adversely impacted the lives of
500,000 others. The 2006 floods demonstrated lack of early warning
and preparedness, resulting in the loss of many lives. An early
warning system is in place in Dire Dawa, where more than 300 people
died last year and although flood preparedness has improved in
Ethiopia, it remains weak. A flood risk alert was issued in June
2007 by DPPA's Early Warning Department in collaboration with the
Flood Taskforce to raise awareness of the serious flood risk in the
catchment areas of the Awash, Abay-Tana, Omo-Gibe, Baro-Akobo and
Wabishebele Rivers during the main rainy season.

4. According to earlier climate forecasts by the National
Meteorological Agency (NMA), the current kiremt rainy season will be
analogous to those observed in 1970, 1979, 1995 and 2005. The flood
alert risk was based on the seasonal NMA forecasts and other
hydro-meteorological data and indicated a likely increase in the
risk of flooding in flood prone areas in 2007, the scale of which
has the potential to be worse than the 2006 kiremt season. The GOE
and humanitarian partners issued a joint flood contingency plan on
August 13 to mitigate the severe impact. Under the most likely
mid-case scenario, an estimated 324,000 people will be affected by

ADDIS ABAB 00002876 002 OF 005


the end of the flood season, assuming the overall impact of the
flooding will be 25 percent less than that of the 2006 main rainy
season.

--------------------------------------------- --------
Overview of Flooding - When It Rains, It Really Pours...
--------------------------------------------- --------
5. During the main rainy season that extends from June to September
(and through November in eastern parts of the country), the major
rivers and tributaries carry high levels of discharge, which
frequently cause severe flash and river flooding. Flooding in some
areas of the country is inevitable when the main rainy season has
high water quantity and distribution compared to unusual seasonal
patterns. Flash floods typically occur in lowland areas of the
country after heavy rains drench the highlands. The rainwater flows
down to lowlands with great speed and force, often without warning
or time for preventive measures. While both occur, much of the
flood disasters in the country are related to rivers that overflow
and burst their banks due to heavy rains and inundate lowland
plains.

6. The rainfall in June normally starts low in amount and gradually
increases, extending from south and west to the north, generally
with a month break between the end of the belg and the commencement
of the kiremt rains. However, this year's belg rains extended
through June and continued with no sufficient gap, merging into the
kiremt rains in some parts of the country. The amount and intensity
of rains during June, and the unusually heavy rainfall in parts of
the country has resulted in very high levels of soil saturation,
increasing fears of landslides and flash flooding. Flooding
continues to pose a significant risk as alarming increases in dam
and river water levels were reported much earlier than normal this
year. The torrential rains have caused rivers and lakes to
overflow, resulting in extensive flooding, loss of human lives,
livestock deaths, and destruction of crops and food stocks. The UN
reports more than 200,000 people are affected, over 60,000 displaced
and 51,000 hectares of crops destroyed to date in the country.

--------------------------------------------
Regional Flood Updates - Just How Bad Is It?
--------------------------------------------
7. The DPPA-led joint verification assessment mission that included
UN and USAID/OFDA staff conducted assessments during late August to
early September in Amhara, SNNP and Afar regions; the official
report is supposed to be forthcoming soon. According to the
Ethiopian Red Cross Society (ERCS), field reports indicate that the
most affected regions are SNNP, Gambella and Amhara regions.

8. AMHARA REGION: during August, flooding affected approximately
42,850 people, displaced 12,571, and damaged 20,300 hectares of
crops in ten woredas in South Gondar, North Gondar, Oromiya, North
Wollo and North Shoa Zones. As the water level of Lake Tana
continues to rise, further displacement from surrounding woredas is
expected. Flood water coverage has increased this year with
occurrences of flooding in traditionally non-flood prone woredas
such as Quara in North Gondar. Significant amounts of crops were
destroyed when the River Megech burst its banks and inundated farms
and grazing lands. WFP reports that the number of displaced is also
increasing. In Amhara, a regional flood contingency plan was
developed in August to address emergency and early recovery needs.
The regional flood emergency coordination forum and woreda
(district) sectoral taskforces were reactivated to coordinate
response. Flood early warning messages have been communicated and

ADDIS ABAB 00002876 003 OF 005


some precautionary measures have been taken including evacuation of
at risk communities and relocation of livestock to higher grounds.

9. SNNP REGION: heavy rainfall in the western and central highlands
resulted in flooding and landslides affecting 53,170 people and
displacing 12,634. The overflow of the Omo River affected 25
villages and 1,515 households in Dasenech woreda. According to the
DPPA-led verification assessment teams, 4,445 people have been
displaced to Delegnmore relocation site and in other areas, 4,000
people were displaced by flooding from the Weytu River in Hamer
zone, and flash flooding from Bilate River also affected people in
Wolayita and Sidama zones. Heavy rainfall in parts of Sidama zone
damaged crop fields and resulted in landslides. Sixteen people were
reported to have been killed in addition to displacements in Kindo
Didaya woreda.

10. GAMBELLA REGION: according to regional DPPB officials, flooding
of the Baro, Akobo and Gilo Rivers was widespread in August,
affecting over 55,850 people and further increasing food insecurity
in the region. Seasonal flooding also displaced 24,500 people.
Affected areas include Itang, Jor, Dimma, Godere, Jikaw, Wanthua,
Lare and Gambella Zuria. WFP reports over 2,500 hectares of
farmland destroyed, with additional heavy rainfall and hailstorms
destroying other crops in Godere woreda. Although flood waters
inundated grazing lands limiting access to pasture for livestock and
increasing fears of water borne diseases, flood waters have
reportedly begun to recede in many areas. Accessibility continues
to challenge response efforts for regular relief beneficiaries and
returnees in the west of the region.

11. TIGRAY REGION: heavy rainfall caused flooding in some areas
affecting over 25,000 people and killing several hundred livestock.
Despite good performance of crops in most woredas, an estimated
17,532 hectares of planted land was damaged by flooding. AWD has
also re-appeared, posing a serious health threat (detailed in para
16). A regional team consisting of NGOs, WFP, regional Bureau of
Agriculture and Rural Development and DPPA officials are currently
assessing impact of flooding.

12. AFAR REGION: seasonal flooding has occurred in areas along the
middle and lower Awash, affecting Bure Mudaytu, Gewane and Awash
Fentale woredas. According to UNOCHA, flooding from the Awash,
Kebena and Bulga rivers has affected an estimated 26,420 people, of
whom 10,600 are displaced in the three woredas. In Bure Mudaytu,
4,500 people were displaced along with two health clinics, two
schools and food grain storage. Five villages in Abaala woreda and
one village in Dallol woreda have also been affected by flash floods
from the neighboring highlands of Tigray. [Note: the displacement
of another 2,000 people had also occurred following volcanic
activities in Teru woreda, Zone 4. DPPB reported five people and
approximately 1,500 animals killed; DPPA dispatched food and
supplementary food for six months in response. End note.]

13. SOMALI REGION: is also prone to recurrent floods, which have
caused loss of human lives, displacement and considerable damage to
livelihoods. The number of people affected ranged from 40,205 in
2005 to over 100,000 in 1997 and 2003. The latest wave of floods in
2006 hit a wider geographical area than before and affected larger
populations. UNICEF estimates that the 2006 floods affected 361,619
people either directly or indirectly. Although it is too early to
assess if weather forecasts are accurate, current forecasts by the
Greater Horn of Africa Climate Outlook Forum indicate normal to
below normal rains next month for the southeastern part of the

ADDIS ABAB 00002876 004 OF 005


country. This means that while the chance for flooding is
minimized, there is a higher probability of weather-induced food
insecurity along with the myriad of other factors aggravating the
humanitarian outlook in Somali Region (reported septel).

----------------------------
Acute Watery Diarrhea (AWD)
----------------------------
14. In addition to flooding, some regions have been adversely
affected by acute watery diarrhea (AWD). As a result of the
excessive rainfall and floods, numerous families have been
temporarily displaced and forced to seek shelter in poor quality
settlements. Since sanitation facilities have been damaged or
destroyed, access to clean water and adequate sanitation facilities
is very poor and AWD cases are also increasing due to displacements.
Although obtaining comprehensive nationwide data is difficult due
to political sensitivities and lack of open reporting, AWD cases
continue to be reported amid fears that flooding could aggravate the
already fragile situation.

15. In Amhara Region, AWD cases were reported in Oromiya, North
Wello and North Gondar zones. 823 cases in Habru, 97 cases in
Gubalafto, and 148 cases were reported from Metema woredas. In
Oromiya Region, latest reports from the ERCS indicate a total of
3,680 AWD cases and 63 related deaths from June 25 - August 21,
translating to an average rate of 64 cases per day for the 57 days.
Although numbers are reportedly decreasing, AWD cases are still
reported in Arsi zone with 813 cases and 14 deaths. While there has
been a significant decrease in reported cases from Afar over the
last month, AWD continues to be reported in Zones 1, 3, 4, and 5
with the majority of cases in Aysaita woreda. In Tigray, AWD cases
have reemerged in the region with a total of 3,040 AWD cases with 26
deaths have been reported in seven woredas, with the majority of
cases among laborers in Kafta Humera woreda. Although the caseload
is starting to decrease, concern over spread of AWD to neighboring
woredas is high as migrant workers move from the highlands during
the harvest season. In SNNP, AWD cases declined in Gedeo and
Guraghe zones but continue to be of concern in Sidama, Hadiya,
Kambata Tembaro zones and Alaba special woreda. While there have
been no official reports of AWD in Gambella Region recently, there
are unconfirmed reports in Akobo and suspected cases among migrant
workers from neighboring SNNP region. Although AWD has stabilized in
Oromiya Region in August, new cases were reported in Borena, Arsi,
East Shoa and Southwest Shoa Zones. Taskforces for the control and
prevention of the disease were established in East and West Haraghe
zone, contributing towards significant decreases. Although there
are some AWD cases reported in parts of Somali Region, no statistics
are available due to restricted access.

16. NOTE: In order to stem the spread of AWD, some regional
governments requested international assistance. UNICEF is providing
approximately USD 1 million for operational funding and drugs,
intravenous and oral-rehydration fluids for treatment centers. WHO
has assigned consultants and allocated funding for regional health
bureau for response activities. Several NGOs are also engaged in
community mobilization activities. USAID/Ethiopia has also
allocated USD 100,000 in both SNNP and in Oromiya regions for the
regional health bureaus towards AWD prevention and response efforts.
End note.

----------------------
Flood Response Efforts
----------------------

ADDIS ABAB 00002876 005 OF 005


17. The adverse human health consequences of the flooding are
complex, far-reaching and difficult to attribute to the flood event
itself. Little quantitative information exists on the impact of the
floods due to underlying chronic health problems. Accessibility to
the remote communities affected by the flood crisis continues to be
a major challenge. The floods have severely reduced the utility of
road travel in some areas and many communities can only be reached
by boat. In some case, villages are inundated with crocodile
infested flood waters, but boats are not available in the area.
Distribution of non-food items and rescue boats continue to be a
high priority.

18. Emergency response efforts are underway by the DPPA, NGOs and UN
agencies. In a few locations, existing safety net resources were
utilized to meet the immediate food needs of the flood affected
population. On September 14, the WFP and the Ethiopian authorities
announced a program of food assistance targeting some 60,000 people
among the most affected by the floods in the country. USAID/OFDA
funded two commercial airlifts into Addis on August 16 and 18 which
contained 16 inflatable Zodiac boats with engines and spare parts,
100 flotation devices, 2,500 blankets and 1,100 rolls of plastic
sheeting. Of the 16 Zodiac boats, DPPA has dispatched 1 to
Gambella, 2 to SNNP, 2 to Amhara, pre-positioned 3 in Dire Dawa,
with the remaining 8 in the Nazareth warehouse. DPPA has dispatched
a total of 1,221 MT of relief food for approximately 60,600 flood
affected people in the country. UNICEF, in partnership with DPPA,
has pre-positioned boats for rescue efforts in most affected areas.
UNICEF has also provided water purification sachets, bottles of
water guard, jerry cans, plastic sheeting, emergency water and
sanitation kits and blankets to affected populations.

-------------
USAID Comment
-------------
19. USAID officers have voiced concerns over the seeming lack of
efficiency and speed in which DPPA has responded to some of the
flood areas. While early response in July to flooding in Gambella
and Afar regions took place, subsequent DPPA response activities
have not moved at the same urgency as field conditions dictate.
Despite urgent appeals from joint GOE and UN flood assessment teams,
the DPPA was slow to deploy rescue boats to flood affected areas for
rescue operations. Confusion over the standing MOU with UNICEF also
seem to have occurred (DPPA preferred exclusive consignment of the
donated boats.) NGOs have also expressed frustration over DPPB
regional rapid responses, however on a positive note, Amhara and
Tigray regions were proactive this year in writing regional
contingency plans/appealing for assistance. Agencies are eagerly
awaiting the analysis of the impact of floods from the DPPA-led
assessment verification teams. The GOE has yet to deploy the large
quantities of non-food items that USAID/OFDA provided in 2005 as
part of a non-food reserve stockpile with the EFSRA. Host
government conservatism and bureaucracy seem to have delayed
utilization despite urgent field needs. USAID recommends any
further non-food items continue to be consigned to international
implementing agencies such as UNICEF at this time.

YAMAMOTO

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