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Drought in Ethiopia
April 17, 2000
Following an assessment mission, Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has determined the need for an emergency nutritional intervention in the Ogaden region of southeastern Ethiopia. MSF plans to immediately set up five therapeutic feeding centers (TFC's) in Denan, near Gode, in order to provide medically monitored feedings to 1,000 children under five suffering from malnutrition.
Ethiopia today is facing severe nutritional deficiency. Unfortunately, it is a scenario that the country confronts at this time each year and which generally affects two to four million people. The most critical period is between the months of May and April, when food reserves end and before the beginning of the rainy season and the new harvests.
In February of this year, MSF carried out an assessment mission in Gode that identified two problems: a measles epidemic and a critical malnutrition situation. Early results of this investigation showed that 12.8% of children suffered severe malnutrition and an additional 19.4% suffered from general malnutrition. The team initially carried out a measles vaccination campaign for 46,000 children. Measles is generally one of the first causes of mortality among populations suffering from malnutrition.
MSF planned to start a nutritional program in Gode following completion of the measles vaccination campaign. Unfortunately, on February 7, an MSF team suffered a serious security incident, causing death to one person and seriously wounding a second. The program was temporarily interrupted, but the teams continued the measles vaccination campaign until the end of March.
Today, our volunteers are again present in the Ogaden region to respond to the growing nutritional crisis.
Other MSF Programs in Ethiopia
In the region of Konso, in the southwestern part of the country, MSF set up a nutritional program following an evaluation in August 1999 that found that approximately 120,000 people out of an estimated population of 186,000 had been affected by two years of drought. A nutritional investigation during the month of October 1999 showed an overall malnutrition level of 22.8% . In February 2000, the level was only 12.8%, but MSF decided to continue its program until the beginning of the rainy season, which starts in May each year. Today, MSF cares for 10,000 people each week (children under the age of five, pregnant and nursing mothers) in its nutritional centers in Konso.
In the province of Tigree, MSF works with populations affected by the war. In Woldya, the capital of North Wollo, MSF leads a training program for surgeons and nurses in four hospitals and is helping to renovate operating rooms. In the Afar country, another MSF team runs a surgical program.
MSF has been working in Ethiopia since 1985.