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Ethiopia: Rain, at last!

11-04-2003 News Release 03/37

"Let it rain!" exclaimed Steve Williams, poking his head around the door to his small room, "let it pour!". The ICRC delegate in charge of assistance programmes in western Hararghe province had been waiting for this moment for a long time.

Like his four colleagues, all based in the small town of Mechara, Steve had awakened early that morning to the deafening sound of rain beating down on corrugated iron roofs.

A distribution of 400 tonnes of maize, bean and sorghum seed has just been completed in this part of Ethiopia, home to over 100,000 people particularly hard hit by the persistent drought of the past few years.

The short rainy season, expected to last three to four weeks, should enable farmers to grow just enough seedlings for the planting season in July, which, in ordinary times, suffices to feed the population.

Two of five distributions of food rations have also been completed, providing the population with some 7,000 tonnes of maize flour, beans and cooking oil. This means that people will not have to dip into their seed reserves to survive, a serious risk during lean periods.

 Further information: Juan Martinez, ICRC Geneva, tel.: ++4122 730 22 81