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Friday, 26 July, 2002, 15:34 GMT 16:34 UK
Ethiopia facing food crisis
Starving children during the 2000 famine
Ethiopia has faced famine before - archive photo
More than eight million people are in need of food aid after failed rains, Ethiopia's emergency relief agency has warned.

The government's Disaster Prevention and Preparedness Commission said a recent survey has led them to revise upwards a figure of 5.2 million made early in the year after both rainy seasons this year were poor, according to the United Nations Irin news agency.

Ethiopia has two rainy seasons, a short season called "Belg" beginning in February, and a long one beginning in June called "Meher".

The announcement on Thursday came as the government in neighbouring Eritrea warned of a severe drought and an impending human catastrophe there.

Earlier this month, BBC News Online reported that food was on its way to over 250,000 people who were facing serious food shortages in the north-eastern region of Afar.

Many farmers in areas in the highlands of Ethiopia are also reported to be in need of help.

Livestock dying

In Afar the poor rains are reported to have sucked wells and rivers dry, forcing women to trek for up to seven hours a day to find water.

Thousands of livestock - which are the main means of survival for Afari farmers - are also reportedly dying at an alarming rate.

Afar is a lowland region, constituting one-fifth of the territory of Ethiopia.

On average, the region receives 300 mm of rainfall a year - a quantity which can fall in the capital, Addis Ababa, in a single month.

On Thursday, leading British aid agencies launched an appeal to help avert disaster in Southern Africa.

Agencies are warning that seven countries in the south face a potentially catastrophic famine - with as many as 14 million people at risk of starvation.


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02 Jul 02 | Africa
25 Jul 02 | Africa
24 May 00 | Africa
01 Apr 00 | Africa
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