The future of three million hungry Ethiopians is in jeopardy with malnutrition on the rise, little over half the food aid required for this year so far in hand and less than a fifth of non-food items forthcoming, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) warned today.
"The lack of funds is making it impossible for WFP and its partners to adequately meet the needs of hungry Ethiopians," agency country director Georgia Shaver said.
With food commodities, particularly cereals and beans, available on the local market if only donors provided cash, WFP urgently needs $33 million to continue feeding 1.5 million people for two and half months as part of the 2005 UN Humanitarian Appeal.
The appeal, launched in December 2004 for $271 million, remains seriously short of food and non-food items. Just 58 per cent of the total $212 million worth of food has been secured, while less than 20 per cent for non-food items such as health, nutrition, water, sanitation and agriculture items, has been received.
"We are beginning to see families resorting to survival mechanisms in the worst-off areas of the country," Ms. Shaver said. "In the south, which experienced drought and a failed harvest, up to 6,000 children have already dropped out of school, as their families send them in search of food or work.
"In addition, in one part of the Somali region, in the east of the country, severe malnutrition rates were already reported at 4.8 per cent in January, with five out of 10,000 affected children dying on a daily basis," she added.
WFP stressed the urgency of securing contributions quickly in order to pre-position food before the rainy season from July to September renders many areas inaccessible.