Ethiopia to continue its relief food distribution despite the rise in the number of Covid-19 cases

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The joint Government and partners’ verification of beneficiaries in the Guji zone was suspended until at least the two-week Government ban on public gatherings ends on 30 March; a measure taken in a bid to reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19.

In order to avoid further delays in relief food assistance to the displaced population, the first-round relief food distribution will proceed using an already existing beneficiary list, pending the verification exercise.

Ethiopia counts 11 cases as of 23 March since the first COVID-19 case was confirmed in the country. Following Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s public announcement of the two-week school closure, as well as a ban on all sports events and large gathering, ECA Executive Secretary Vera Songwe and the Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator Catherine Sozi issued a joint communiqué on 18 March asking UN agencies to put in place alternate working arrangements to contain the spread of the virus. The arrangements will be in line with the business continuity plan to ensure the delivery of key mandates to the Government and the people of Ethiopia. This measure was effective as of 19 March until further notice.

On 19 March 2020, the head of the Guji zone disaster risk management office (DRMO), together with other government officials and humanitarian partners met and agreed to suspend the joint verification exercise until at least the two-week Government ban on public gatherings ends on 30 March; a measure taken in a bid to reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19.

The Guji zone DRMO communicated the decision to all government sector offices, including the zone administrator, along with the tentative resumption date (6 April 2020). The joint Government and partners’ verification exercise was rolled out on 16 March in three (Goro Dola, Liben and Wadera woredas) out of the six targeted woredas in Guji zone, with the aim to verify the beneficiary list of nearly 80,000 reported new IDPs in the zone for relief food distribution purpose.

In order to avoid further delays in relief food assistance to the displaced population, the meeting agreed that the first-round relief food distribution will proceed using an already existing beneficiary list, pending the verification exercise. NDRMC food dispatch is currently ongoing in all six targeted hosting new IDPs woredas (Aga Wayu, Goro Dola, Gumi Eldelo, Liben,
Seba Boru and Wadera). The Food Cluster was asked to fast-track the dispatch and distribution of the food to the affected population. Advocacy is also ongoing to ensure the continuation of food dispatch and distribution for the duration of the suspension of the verification exercise.

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