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Thursday, 30 March, 2000, 16:41 GMT 17:41 UK
Children die in Ethiopian drought

By Nita Bhalla in Gode, Ethiopia

Six children under five years old are dying each day due to severe malnutrition in some of the areas worst-hit by the drought in Ethiopia, aid officials say.

This is the situation in Gode town, according to the Ogaden Welfare Society, a local aid agency.

Gode lies in one of the most severely affected areas - the Ogaden region in the south-east of the country.

Of the eight million people in Ethiopia who need food assistance, 1.3 million are from this area.

Desert-like town

The lack of rain for four consecutive seasons has left the town dry, arid and semi desert-like. The inhabitants largely depend on breeding livestock for their survival, but 95% of the livestock has already died.


Aid delivery
Aid is arriving too slowly

The town and its surrounding area is littered with the carcasses of cattle, goat and sheep. Even the camels, considered to be the most resilient of animals, have stopped lactating and will die soon, and this is a sure sign that people will be next.

The Ogaden Welfare Society, together with the UN World Food Programme and US Agency for International Development, have established feeding centres and are trying to get more aid into the area.

But many logistical problems exist. Some areas are largely inaccessible as road infrastructure is poor.

There are also reports of rebel movements and banditry, which many believe is the reason why the international community has been slow to respond.

But the government says these reports are exaggerated, and says getting more aid into the area should not be delayed any further.

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See also:

21 Mar 00 | Africa
Rain failures threaten Horn
13 Sep 99 | Africa
World Bank aid blow for Horn
03 Sep 99 | Americas
Mounting famine threat in Ethiopia
13 Jul 99 | Americas
New aid appeal for Ethiopia
23 Jun 99 | Africa
Hunger fear for Horn of Africa
05 Jan 00 | Africa
Is aid really helping?
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