Eritrea Hunger AlertPosted by: admin | Posted on: July 31, 2008
Eritrea is facing its worst crop failure since independence in 1993. A prolonged drought has seriously affected food production, and has left up to 1.4 million people – almost half of the total population of 3.3 million – with little or no food until the next expected harvest in November 2003.
Rainfall has been poor since October 2001, with the almost total failure of the March-June azmera rains and the late onset of June-September kremti rains, threatening the food security of thousands of farmers and pastoralists who make up most of the country’s workforce.
The regions worst hit by drought and food shortages are the Northern Red Sea, Southern Red Sea and many parts of Anseba.
The 2002 harvest was 54,000 metric tons, about 20 percent of a normal harvest and only enough to cover 10 percent of Eritrea’s national food requirement.
The Government appealed in November 2002 for a total of 477,000 tonnes of food aid for 2003. International response so far has been very limited.
To assist some 900,000 of the most vulnerable people affected by drought, WFP is trying to raise US$100 million for 2003, of which only 25 percent has been received. The number of people WFP can target with this limited amount of food has been slashed in half, to 450,000 – and food rations to these people have been reduced to 60 percent.
WFP is also trying to feed an additional 500,000 people, comprising those displaced by the war, refugees who have returned from Sudan, school children and other vulnerable groups. Funding shortfalls have also caused food aid ration cuts.
Eritrea is still recovering from a devastating border war with neighbouring Ethiopia. A large number of people, including farmers, are still displaced and thousands of soldiers have yet to be demobilized. The continuing resettlement of Eritrean refugees returning from Sudan is an extra strain on the country’s resources.
Unexploded landmines, another legacy of the conflict, have rendered unusable an estimated 12,000 hectares in Debub and most of the sub-region of Lalai Gash in Gash Barka.
Due to the conflict, over one million people in the grain producing regions of Gash Barka and Debub were displaced; most are suffering low food production due to security and drought.
Conscription has caused an absence of younger men and women engaged in agricultural activities, which puts a further burden on households.