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Ethiopia: Aid for flood victims

09-01-1998 News Release 98/01

During much of November and December the few available helicopters were the only way of bringing assistance to the victims of devastating floods in south-eastern Ethiopia. With the waters now gradually receding, in the first week of January a convoy consisting of four Ethiopian Red Cross Society (ERCS) and two ICRC trucks managed to reach the hitherto isolated settlements of Hargele and Cherati in the Afder area, bringing in much-needed aid in the form of 28 tonnes of food grain, 13 tonnes of seed, 1.3 tonnes of high-energy biscuits and one tonne of medical and other items.

The chairman of the ERCS regional branch, an ICRC health delegate and a number of experienced field staff distributed, through local communities, these emergency supplies as well as the tools needed to immediately plant maize, the crop best suited to current soil conditions.

An ICRC team using light vehicles had gone to the same area in the last week of December on a medical assistance and assessment mission which confirmed the desperate situation of small communities stranded on higher elevations or plots of land surrounded by floodwaters. It was decided that the supplies brought in by the convoy would be handed over to elders and local representatives in the region's main administrative centres - Godscubo, Hargele and Cherati - where emergency committees had been set up to seek ways of reaching isolated groups of people in outlying areas.

As the rains abated during December and the waters started to subside, it became even more urgent to distribute seed, in addition to sufficient quantities of food grain, so that the population could plant crops as soon as possible and gradually regain i ts self-sufficiency.