Hargeisa, 14 July 2009  – Transport delays from Djibouti have led the World Food Programme (WFP) to begin diverting vessels carrying food assistance to the Port of Sudan and the Port of Berbera in Somaliland, where trucks will transport the aid to Ethiopia.

This decision by the WFP was a result of the Ethiopian Government ostensibly prioritizing the transportation of fertilizers from the Port of Djibouti to crop-producing areas of the country with the intention of trying to increase production at the next harvest.

Many international NGOs are currently criticizing the Government for its decision to prioritize fertilizer delivery, while 4.9 million citizens are badly in need of emergency food assistance. WFP was the first to condemn the Government in a move that also raised the Government’s awareness of the issue.

The Disaster Management and Food Security Sector (DMFSS) of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development explained to the charities that it has agreed to ease distribution delays and prioritize the transportation of emergency food assistance according to USAID’s emergency report titled, ‘Ethiopia – Complex Emergency’.

The Government has agreed to authorize companies to provide 100 trucks per day to transport food commodities from the port as of late June. However, WFP reported that the transport challenge is continuing.

According to it, an average of only 12 trucks are currently transporting food per day, which prompted WFP to divert vessels carrying food assistance to the alternative ports. WFP reached the decision on which ports to use after trucking companies from Somaliland agreed to transport the aid to Ethiopia.

Areas that produce during the belg rains are currently registering below average harvests that are worsening food insecurity. Preliminary belg assessment findings of UN agencies indicates a significant reduction of belg crop levels, including 75 to 90 per cent crop loss in some areas, the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reported.

Source: Nazret