February 15, 2011

Oromo: Thousands Affected As Drought Hits Both Adama & Jigjiga

UN report shows that the ongoing drought and water shortages in Ogaden and Oromo are hitting health and education in the regions hard as people move in a desperate search for subsistence

Below is an article published by ReliefWeb:

The prevailing drought and water shortages in lowland areas of Ogaden and Oromo regions continue to challenge access to education, with school dropout rates significantly increasing as pastoralist households move from place to place in search of water and pasture. According to reports from the region, a number of alternative basic education centres and primary schools have been closed in Ogaden Region, with more than 34,000 children affected. In Oromo, the number of drought-affected school children dropping out is more than 9,000 and rising, with some 29 primary schools on the verge of closure. In view of the anticipated extension of the dry season through June 2011, school dropout rates are expected to worsen, mainly in drought-prone areas. The recently launched Humanitarian Requirements Document (HRD) requests US$ 3.4 million to address the urgent needs of 55,890 affected school children through enhanced education in emergencies. Funding of education in emergencies was a major gap in 2010. 

New measles cases continue to be reported, with 238 cases and one death reported from 17 woredas of Amhara, SNNP, Ogaden and Tigray regions, as well as Addis Ababa, between 31 January and 6 February 2011. Emergency response is ongoing in all reporting woredas. In SNNPR, all zones are working to improve the expanded programme on immunization (EPI) coverage, and have strengthened case management and active case search, as well as early detection activities. In Ogaden and Amhara regions, suspected cases are being investigated and specimens collected, while in Tigray, case management, active case search and strengthening of the EPI have been initiated by woreda and regional health bureaus. In Addis Ababa, suspected cases are being investigated and managed. Meanwhile, preparations have started at the federal level to establish a measles technical working group that will look into technical issues contributing to the outbreak and feed into the Public Health and Emergency Management Task Force (chaired by the Minister of Health). The World Health Organization (WHO) is supporting preparations for regional measles immunization campaigns in Afar, Tigray, Gambella and Beneshagul Gumuz. WHO also participates in outbreak investigation and monitoring of control activities in Amhara, Oromo and SNNPR. 

On the other hand, reports of acute watery diarrhea (AWD) cases have declined significantly, with only two new cases reported from Jarso woreda in East Hararghe zone,  Oromo Region, during the same reporting week. Meanwhile, 22 new cases of diarrheal diseases (no fatalities) were reported in Jamaca kebele of Hargele woreda, Ogaden Region. The region sent one rapid response team for verification and response, with drug and supplies, to the area. 

Emergency water trucking interventions continue with 151 and 59 trucks required in the most affected parts of Ogaden and  Oromo regions, respectively. The intervention, however, is facing a number of challenges including the remote location of water sources, overuse of existing water schemes as additional populations rely on them, and a shortage of pumps, generators and spare parts to rehabilitate and/or maintain existing sources. The Ministry of Water and Energy (MoW&E) has requested partners to provide support for rehabilitation of broken water system, with UNICEF, ACF and Norwegian Church Aid contributing assistance. To minimize the risk of transmission of WASH-related disease outbreaks, government and humanitarian partners have agreed to strengthen monitoring, including on the amount of water delivered to beneficiaries on a daily basis. Partners also agreed to distribute household water purification chemicals, hygiene education and capacity building supports at local level. In support of this, in  Oromo Region, the regional water bureau has distributed 900,000 sachets of water purification chemicals, while CARE distributed half a million sachets of household water purification chemicals in Borena zone and is preparing to distribute additional 500,000 sachets. 

The latest market watch issued by WFP indicates that the country level general inflation for December 2010 calculated based on the 12 months moving average stood at 8.2 per cent, food inflation at 1.5 per cent, and non-food inflation at 19.1 per cent. Compared to the same period last year (December 2009) the country level consumer price index has increased by 14.5 per cent. In general, the supply of cereals in the markets among historically food deficit areas was below average during the month, attributable to increases in prices of maize and wheat. However, according to the report, prices in markets within surplus-producing areas remained stable or declined. The Government introduced fixed retail prices on basic food and non-food commodities. This regulatory exercise is likely to have an impact on the supply situation. According to the Government, the absence of an efficient marketing system, coupled with the loose regulatory system as well as lack of transparency on the side of the business community, has caused a price hike on basic commodities.