The Food Crisis
20 April 2000
MSF has had a permanent operational present in the Ogaden over the past 10 years, with intermittent interventions in the region before that. The Ogaden, which is now administered by the Somali Regional State V, is divided into zones. This year MSF has been active in the Degeh Bur zone - where activities have been suspended due to a critical incident in February this year, resulting in the death of a driver and a severely injured logistician. MSF has also been active in the Gode zone since February, where they launched an investigation following alarming reports of malnutrition in the area. The first team was evacuated following the security incident in the Degeh Bur zone. However MSF clearly recommended an intervention for both the malnourished and an ongoing Measles epidemic that the team had clearly identified during their short stay in the area in the first week of February. Due to the security risk, it was clear that MSF could not be permanently present but that they could assist the Zonal Health Bureau in a mass measles vaccination campaign. At the same time other local actors assured the DPPC task force in Addis Abeba that they would take in charge the malnutrition and water supply problem. A two person team was sent immediately to Ethiopia and Gode and they started the training of medical personnel and launched the measles vaccination campaign on 15th of Feb. This campaign covered Gode zone and ended on the 21.03.00. This campaign achieved 39% coverage of the expected target population (quoted at 120.000 persons at the beginning of the campaign) and 45.9% of children under five years of age, for measles vaccination and Vitamin A distribution. At the same time all children between six months and five years also had a MUAC taken - this showed a severe malnutrition problem of 13% in this population, with 19.4% suffering from moderate malnutrition and 21% at risk - thus over 50% of the under five population with a serious risk. It was also clear that the other actors in the area were having difficulty to cope with the population requirements. Again the recommendation of the team was an immediate nutritional intervention in the Gode zone, where priority should be given to Denan, Gode and Imey areas. Following a third and final assessment mission in early April and an operational debate in Europe it has been decided that there is a reasonable security situation in the Gode zone at the present time which can allow MSF have a team permanently presence in the Gode zone. It is important to note at this time that even if the rains were to arrive in the coming days, they are too late for the Ogaden. The livestock are already dead and many families are now destitute and will be dependant on general food distributions and public rations, during the crisis and for a period after the crisis has passed to allow them to rebuild their livelihoods. Taking this reality into consideration MSF plans an action on two levels: 1. A nutritional intervention to save the lives of the severe and moderately malnourished and assist the population to recuperate in the critical phase of this crisis. 2. To prepare and monitor the global over view and follow up of the general food distribution in the Ogaden, but in particular in the Gode zone, to ensure that this population will receive a sufficient, reasonable and regular general food distribution in the coming months. It should be stressed that although there is a high emphasis on the Gode zone and the Ogaden, there are other areas in Ethiopia at risk that are under surveillance by MSF teams. Time frame: Three months Target Population: 340,000 inhabitants : total population Gode zone 30,000 inhabitants : Denan 108,000 inhabitants : Gode 35,000 inhabitants: Imey 173,000 inhabitants: total for these three districts. 32,870 children under 5 years (19% of total population) for these three districts Operational Action Plan ADDIS ABEBA One international expert is now present in Addis to work on the global overview of the nutritional situation in Ethiopia and liaise the Gode team for the global overview on the general food distribution in the Gode zone etc.. GODE ZONE Gode A co-ordination base is being installed from today (April 20, 2000). They are in charge to establish security guidelines and launch the Denan programme (see below) in the coming days. The team in Gode today consists of one international and two national co-ordination staff. They will be joined this weekend by one medical/nutritional co-ordinator (international). The nutritional expert from the Belgian sections medical department will also join the team early next week to assist in the launching of the programme. An investigation in to a possible nutritional intervention in the Gode area will be undertaken once the Denan programme is launched. Denan A nutritional intervention will be launched this week. Three of the international staff have already left for Ethiopia. One other expatriate will leave this weekend (April 22-23) and the national water and sanitation officer is already present. This will be the team that will launch the initial activities, as the activity level increases the team will be increased. Three full charters will leave Belgium - the first is scheduled for Friday 21st of April, the second should follow Saturday 22nd of April and a third is scheduled for next week, the date still to be confirmed. They charters will contain milk, high protein biscuits, shelter materials, medication, logistical materials, etc... A national charter will also be sent from Addis Abeba within either the 20th or 21st of April, this plane will contain oil, sugar and logistic materials. The DPPC have given the all clear to land directly in Gode although we are still awaiting the final clearance from other local authorities. The project has three main activities:
The immediate launching of simplified Therapeutic Feeding Centres (TFCs) to treat the severe and moderately malnourished population in Denan and the surrounding area.
To carry out a nutritional survey once the TFCs have been established
To clarify the need and if necessary launch a simplified Supplementary Feeding programme
An additional two person MSF team will visit this area in the coming days to identify a possible action and collect knowledge on the security in this area.