February 22, 2006
A United Nations aid coordination agency said Monday the drought gripping the Horn of Africa had reached a critical stage in eastern and south-eastern Ethiopia and was likely to deteriorate over the coming month.
Ethiopia, together with Djibouti, Somalia and Kenya, is in the throes of a severe drought, that has put a total of 11 million people at risk of famine.
In its latest report on Ethiopia, the UN Office for Coordination
of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said the situation in the south and south-east,
which has been critical for two months, was likely to deteriorate given the
forecast for continued dry weather.
This ongoing dry spell comes during the "jilal" or small rainy season from January to March. There are also fears the drought could continue through the main rainy season or "gu" from March to May.
Some two million people are affected by the drought in Ethiopia, over 1.5 million in the southern Somali region alone, with the rest mostly in neighbouring Oromia region.
The Rome-based Food and Agriculture Organization appealed last week for 18.5 million dollars in emergency aid for residents of southern Ethiopia suffering from what are described as pre-famine conditions.
The World Food Programme is also providing food to the most
vulnerable groups in the area, according to OCHA.
Ethiopia's state aid agency, the Disaster Preparedness and Prevention Agency, last week announced it was dispatching emergency food aid to 1.5 million people in Somali and Oromia regions.
The Ethiopian army has also sent troops to participate in the relief effort, by providing escorts for trucks carrying supplies to Somali region.