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Eritrea: Seed and food distributions completed

26-06-2003 News Release 03/76

In drought-affected Eritrea, the ICRC has completed its seed and food distributions to families who were displaced during the border war with Ethiopia.

Around 20,000 households (100,000 people) in the regions of Debub and Gash-Barka received 457 tonnes of cereal seed and 1,915 tonnes of food.

The first rains of the season have slowly begun to fall, and farmers are starting to plough and sow their lands. An ICRC agronomist is monitoring the planting. A specialist in household food economy is set to compare the beneficiaries’ current economic situation with that of October 2002, just after the failed harvest. The outcome of the next harvest, which will be surveyed in October 2003, will determine whether further seed and food distributions will be necessary in 2004 to help drought- and war-affected farmers regain their self-sufficiency.

In Debub, the highland farmers were given maize, barley and finger millet seed. In the lowlands and in Gash-Barka, farmers received sorghum seed. An average of 20 kg of seed – enough to sow between one-half and one hectare of land, which is enough to feed a family for an entire year if rainfall is adequate – were given to each household of farmers. To help bridge a temporary food gap during the sowing season, they were also given a one-month ration of wheat, split peas, oil, sugar and salt.

ICRC trucks delivered the aid as close as possible to the beneficiaries’ villages, located inside or close to the Temporary Security Zone, a buffer zone along the Ethiopian-Eritrean border. Village administrators made available the manpower needed to unload the trucks. Volunteers of the Red Cross Society of Eritrea helped with distributions in Gash-Barka.

The farmers appreciated the timeliness of the distributions, the quality of the donated seeds, and the fact that the distribution points were located close to their villages. They especially welcomed the food rations, which enabled them to concentrate on ploughing and sowing.

 Further information: Marçal Izard, ICRC Asmara, tel. ++2911 181 164 or 181 130