ROME, 19 September 2002 -- The food situation in several parts of Ethiopia remains alarming with millions of people suffering from drought, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said in a statement issued today. A large number of livestock deaths and the migration of people in search of water and pasture are being reported. FAO has therefore launched a new appeal for US$1.9 million in support of six emergency projects.

In particular, FAO proposes to provide crucial veterinary instruments to poorly equipped veterinary services in Afar and Somali Regions. This project will benefit 30 000 pastoral families. In addition, supplementary feed will be supplied to breeding cows.

In large parts of Tigray Region, livestock deaths have been reported due to the drought and an increased spread of animal diseases. Through the purchase, transport and distribution of drugs, vaccines and veterinary equipment, FAO will help to ensure the recovery of the cattle herds. The beneficiaries are about 5 000 poor rural households.

FAO is also planning to provide severely drought-affected farmers with sweet potato cuttings. The sweet potato crop has a late planting season (October-November) and is therefore useful for farmers when rains are delayed. About 50 000 of the most destitute farm families will benefit from this project.

Another project aims to rehabilitate irrigation schemes in the most vulnerable crop producing areas. FAO will provide horticultural seeds and facilitate training on better utilization of irrigation schemes for drought-affected communities. An estimated 20 000 poor farming families will benefit from this activity.

The UN agency also proposes to provide 250 treadle pumps and 100 motor pumps for small-scale irrigation to farmers in Tigray Region to increase crop production and to improve the food security of about 5 000 drought-affected families.

The projects aim to restore self-reliance of vulnerable rural families and reduce their dependence on food aid. FAO will work closely together with local authorities and non-governmental organizations (NGOs).