ERITREA: Harsh drought culminates in critical
[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United
Searching for water in
NAIROBI, 21 Jun 2004 (IRIN) - A harsh drought has
led to critical drinking-water shortages in several Eritrean regions, including
Anseba, Southern Red Sea and Northern Red Sea, the United Nations Office for
Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reported.
"The ground water table did not replenish due to the poor performance of rains
in March-May," OCHA said in a humanitarian update on Thursday.
"Eritrea is therefore still under the grip of a harsh drought, resulting
in severe critical drinking-water problems both for humans and animals."
According to the update, a task force set up by aid agencies on water and
sanitation was trying to meet the urgent water and sanitation needs of the
communities most affected by war and drought including internally displaced
persons, returnees and host communities.
It said around 30,000 people were being provided with emergency water by
trucking. "However, in terms of drought-affected communities, an estimated
54,000 people require immediate support through accelerated water projects and
water trucking," OCHA said.
The update said some US $4 million had been requested by relief agencies for
the water sector for this year, but only $1.8 million had so far been received.
"The urgent funding needs in the sector for 2004 are $2.2 million through
the Consolidated Appeal," it added.
OCHA also said the March-May rainfall had generally performed below normal,
resulting in grim expectations for the improvement of pasture and availability
of food in most households. Agricultural activities, it added, would now have
to totally depend on the performance of the June-September season
In April, OCHA had reported that the rains that normally fell along Eritrea's
eastern and coastal areas from November to February had largely failed for the
fourth consecutive year, raising fears of another drought.
Concerned over the possibility of a fifth year of drought, OCHA had said
rainfall over the central region of Asmera was also expected to be low, while
the rest of the country would be dry, except the Debub and Maekal regions in
the west-central and central parts of the country. "Coping mechanisms are
wearing out as poverty deepens. Although generous support helped to avert a
major humanitarian disaster last year, 1.9 million Eritreans (more than half
the country's population) will have to rely on humanitarian assistance again
this year," it said.