April 6, 2006

Drought Emergency in Somali and Oromiya Regions

Most of Oromiya Region and northern parts of Somali Region have been receiving rain in the last fortnight as well as western and southern areas of Afar. Southern and south eastern Somali appear to have received little to no rain up until the beginnin

Most of Oromiya Region and northern parts of Somali Region have been receiving rain in the last fortnight as well as western and southern areas of Afar. Southern and south eastern Somali appear to have received little to no rain up until the beginning of April. On 3-4 April heavy rains were received in Chereti and Hargele in Afder zone, Somali Region. These latest rains have filled birkas and the Weib River almost flooded. Earlier rains also improved water shortage in parts of Jijiga and Shinile zones, Somali Region. Moyale woreda (Liben zone) received some good rains from 22 to 25 March, while Gerbo woreda (Fik zone) reportedly received average rains during the third dekad of March.

Some sporadic rains have also been reported from Degehabur and Korahe. Further rains in the worst drought-affected southern areas are expected to begin in April. In Oromiya’s Borena zone, rains have been received in midland woredas (Bule Hora, Gelana, Abaya, and Dugda Dawa), however, the lowland woredas, with the exception of some pocket areas, including Moyale, Miyo, Dire and eastern parts of Arero woreda have not yet received rains. Rains were also received in lowlands woredas of Bale and East and West Hararghe zones but were inadequate. The rains have improved the situation in Fentale woreda in East Shewa zone. The patchy showers have eased the situation for some livestock with the formation of water pools and the reappearance of sparse pasture in some areas but the rain has not yet been enough to make any meaningful impact. The showers have also raised a new fear over the spread of water-borne diseases. Carcasses of animals remain piled up around villages and water sources. Stagnant pools could also act as a breeding ground for malaria. There are also concerns that the unequal distribution of rains may lead to increased migration of flocks and the possibility of conflict over resources. It remains to be seen whether these rains are the beginning of the long-awaited seasonal April rains (known as gana in Oromia and gu in Somali Region), or just an early and temporary downpour.

While the situation continues to deteriorate in Somali Region and Borena, other parts of the country are also now being categorised as hotspots. According to FEWS Net part of Zone 4 and all of Zone 2 in Afar are at extreme risk of food insecurity. The situation in Oromiya has deteriorated in East and West Harerghe and in the lowlands of Bale and Arsi. In Somali Region, the situation continues to be critical in Liben, Afder, Gode and parts of Fik zones, and below normal in the remaining parts of the region. The number of hotspot woredas is increasing (12 out of 32 woredas) with Degehabur, Warder and parts of Shinile now considered as seriously affected. Meanwhile, a DPPA led multiagency re-assessment mission is currently assessing the humanitarian situation, revising needs and the beneficiary numbers in Afder, Gode, and Liben zones. Preliminary results of the DPPA led multi-agency reassessment mission in Borena zone indicate that the beneficiary numbers for emergency have increased but the numbers are still not official. The November 2005 meher assessment mission identified 155,000 emergency beneficiaries and 100,000 people for close monitoring.

UNICEF has cleared nine consignments of Plumpy’nut from its warehouse and is sharing the proclamation number with partners so they can clear their stock under the same procedure. The proclamation says that food items for emergency purposes are exempt from import duties. 38 tonnes has been sent to the Somali Region to support the therapeutic feeding activities. Meanwhile, the federal Ministry of Health has updated its response plan to the drought areas and discussions are underway to officially use MUAC in Somali and Afar regions, as the Weight for Height methodology to collect nutritional data in pastoralist areas in mass campaigns (such as EOS) is not proving effective.

Extract from: Reliefweb