In 2005, there were significant humanitarian challenges in Ethiopia related to the delayed start of the Productive Safety Net Programme (PSNP), as well as underfunding in the first five months of the year of the joint government-United Nations 2005 Humanitarian Appeal. National elections held in May diverted attention from humanitarian issues during the first half of the year and the overall number of chronic and acutely affected populations was underestimated. A Flash Update was launched in May to draw attention to deteriorating conditions and bring the Humanitarian Appeal up to date, and this secured significantly improved funding.
The situation improved in the second half of the year following significant progress in the humanitarian response through enhanced food distributions and cash transfers as part of the PSNP. This was coupled with reasonably abundant rains, which helped ease extreme food insecurity conditions across most of Ethiopia . However, a number of humanitarian risks remained, including malaria and diarrhoeal outbreaks after flooding, localised acute malnutrition and the effects of tribal conflicts.
- Strengthen coordination in support of humanitarian decision making and response
- Develop a more collaborative, comprehensive and predictable response to humanitarian needs
- Improve government capacity to coordinate emergency actions
- Strengthen early warning and humanitarian monitoring
- Establish a nationally-owned and sustainable humanitarian information centre
OCHA advocated for and facilitated action to address the humanitarian needs of the most vulnerable populations, as well as to provide effective and accountable coordination in emergency situations, such as the drought in Afar early in the year and floods in Somali Region in May. A key priority was to ensure complementarity between the Humanitarian Appeal and the PSNP in order to effectively address humanitarian concerns.
The office hired a consultant to explore ways of strengthening non-food emergency responses in its assessments and appeals. The recommendations, which gave rise to a 10-point plan, were then adopted by government-led sector task forces and, where possible, incorporated into the 2006 Humanitarian Appeal.While much more work is necessary to develop a more clearly defined strategy that differentiates between emergency non-food needs caused by acute crisis situations and recurrent or predictable non-food needs, the task forces made significant progress in improving the identification of requirements and approaches for interventions.
In addition, OCHA field officers consistently made humanitarian assessment missions to areas of the country where people were reported to need assistance following flooding, volcanic eruptions or violent conflict-related displacement. They subsequently provided information to relevant humanitarian actors to facilitate an effective response.
The office provided regular strategic field assessments and analysis to all actors through formal reports to support effective humanitarian action, as well as improved publications for the general public. The office also organised and supported a visit by the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for the Humanitarian Situation in the Horn of Africa,Maarti Ahtisaari, which was instrumental in highlighting the need to reach all those in need of assistance.
A monthly 'hotspots matrix and map' supported UN response and early action. Improved contacts with NGOs through the monthly UN-NGO forum at the federal level, and the production of a national and regional WWW database of NGO activities facilitated both the collection and development of predictable, comprehensive and collaborative responses to crises as they occurred.
OCHA facilitated 34 early warning field assessments and humanitarian monitoring missions with government counterparts and partners to enable early action, particularly on the government's resettlement programme. OCHA's findings and recommendations from resettlement field missions helped mitigate humanitarian risks that have occurred in past years. There is still room for improvement, however, in achieving action in other areas on a consistent and timely basis.
OCHA officially handed over its advisory support for the Disaster Prevention and Prevention Agency's information centre to UNDP in 2005. A two-year extension of the project, managed by UNDP with technical support from OCHA, is proposed so that it can build on the substantive progress made and systems established from 2003 to 2005.
A more collaborative, comprehensive and predictable response to the needs of the vulnerable populations was achieved through enhanced coordination with authorities and partners working to implement the PSNP. Action was also taken to ensure greater complementarity between the Humanitarian Appeal and the PSNP. OCHA's advocacy for all acute and chronically needy to receive assistance through either the Humanitarian Appeal or the PSNP helped improve collaboration with the government.
OCHA was instrumental in advocating for a Flash Appeal in May following an increase in the number of vulnerable people requiring assistance and the inadequacy of funding to that point (food needs funded at 64 percent and non-food needs at 22 percent) to address identified needs. OCHA continued to provide updated financial contributions to the government, UN partners and donor community on the status of funding for the 2005 Humanitarian Appeal and Flash Update. Successful advocacy activities resulted in strong donor response to the Humanitarian Appeal after the Flash Update, with non-food requirements 84 percent funded and food requirements 111 percent funded. Overall, the 2005 Flash Appeal was 136 percent funded.
The office worked extensively with the government-led sectoral task forces to strengthen mechanisms for accurately identifying, properly resourcing and effectively addressing critical non-food emergency needs. Emergency units are now being established in each of the sector federal and regional bureaux to undertake full-time hazard mitigation, crisis prevention and disaster response.
Early warning systems and humanitarian monitoring were strengthened through the development of an early warning-early action hotspots matrix that was used in collaboration with other partners to identify actions taken and responses needed. This tool was instrumental in advocating for a Flash Appeal in response to increasing malnutrition across the country, and resulted in an increase in beneficiary numbers in the PSNP as well as a relaxing of the requirements for assistance, preventing further human suffering.
Basic information structures and services are in place at the humanitarian information centre, though a lot of work is still required in terms of information management and institutional arrangement. Sustainability remains a key challenge (especially with regard to human and financial resources) in view of the transition to national ownership, management and financing.