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Ethiopia's drought survivors need urgent help to avert health crisis UN

The United Nations humanitarian wing reported today that a critical water shortage in Ethiopia's Somali region is threatening the health of the local communities who are being forced to use abandoned ponds and wells for drinking water, which may increase the risk of water-borne diseases.

Regional authorities and humanitarian partners are appealing for a resumption of emergency water tankering interventions to avert a further deterioration of the situation, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said.

The water shortage in Warder, Gode, Afder, Shinille and Degehabur areas of the region is expected to continue until the next rainy season in mid-October.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the prolonged drought's impact on livestock has been compounded by the migration into Ethiopia of unusually large herds of cattle, camels, goats and sheep from drought-hit areas of neighbouring Somalia and Kenya.

Meanwhile, the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) and its partners are continuing to help roll out a targeted feeding programme by providing technical assistance and supplies.

In recent weeks, the agency has dispatched 47 metric tons of ready-to-use therapeutic feeding to health bureaus – enough to treat 4,447 children for one month.

Health, education efforts in Republic of Congo receive $500,000 boost from UN

25 August - The Republic of Congo has received a $500,000 influx from the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) to boost health, nutrition and education initiatives to help ease the impact of the global economic crisis on the country's most vulnerable people.

The nation is recovering from two civil wars that uprooted over 1 million people, and despite strides made since the 2003 peace agreement, over half the population of nearly 4 million currently lives below the poverty line.

“Women and children are the most affected by poverty,” UNICEF Executive Director Ann M. Veneman said in the capital, Brazzaville, today.

One in eight children die before they turn five, largely from preventable causes, she said, adding that the country also has one of the highest rates of maternal mortality in the region.

While in Brazzaville, Ms. Veneman visited the Life Savers national initiative which promotes 12 simple, easy-to-practice household behaviours, including breastfeeding exclusively for six months, sleeping under an insecticide-treated mosquito bednet, and washing hands with soap.

Life Savers also runs a 24-hour telephone hotline, which parents and caregivers can call when their children are sick.

In talks with Prime Minister Isidore Mvouba and other top officials, the UNICEF head commended the Government's efforts to improve access to social services and raised the issue of the treatment of indigenous people, or pygmies, especially the children who are marginalized and often face discrimination.

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