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Warehouse Workers and American Red Cross Support Integral to Success of Flood Relief in Ethiopia

Susannah Cernojevich, Special to, 202-303-5551,


WASHINGTON, Nov. 15 /Standard Newswire/ -- Besides a network of more than 97 million volunteers throughout the world, one of the most important ingredients of success of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement (Movement) is its system of warehouses.


These 3,000-metric ton (a metric ton is equal to approximately 2,204 pounds) warehouses store essential items that save lives in times of natural or man-made disasters and supply medications and equipment to prevent slow-onset disasters in the most rural communities.


One of the 10 warehouses in Ethiopia – located at the Ethiopian Red Cross Society's (ERCS) center in Addis Ababa – was put to the test during the recent flooding in southern Ethiopia. The warehouse staff and volunteers successfully received and distributed to flood victims emergency items donated from Red Cross national societies around the globe. The floods affected more than 300,000 people in Ethiopia alone, leaving more than 50,000 homeless. The American Red Cross sent two delegates and contributed $85,000 to coordinate and support the Movement's flood relief efforts in Ethiopia.


"The warehouses allow the Ethiopian Red Cross Society to be ready for disasters in the country, by receiving and distributing first aid, essential non-food items, fortified biscuits and pharmaceutical supplies," said an ERCS relief officer Gedlu Beyene. "These items will help improve the health, well-being and income generation for people in hard-to-reach areas of Ethiopia."


The essential items that workers load on the ERCS truck – which will travel to Omorate in the South Omo region to help the 10,000 flood-affected people – will travel for two days before reaching its destination in southern Ethiopia. The double-bed truck will carry more than 23,000 metric tons of teapots, cooking pots, blankets, jerry cans, pitchers and fortified biscuits.


Because these trips are expensive, ERCS worker Derjer Girma piles the supplies received from national societies – including those from the American Red Cross and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies – as high and secure as possible.


"Since it will take nearly two days for these items to reach Omorate and cost about 29,000 Ethiopian Birr (US $3,315) per day for gas and the upkeep of the 25-year-old vehicle, we must pile on as many items as possible for each trip we make," said Beyene.


The ERCS currently has only three full-time workers at the warehouse. However, during times of emergency – like when flood waters were at their highest two months ago – the ERCS employs three to five additional day laborers and about 15 volunteers to ensure that supplies arrive at their destination as soon as possible.


Like his colleagues, Girma works long hours to supply the items that the Red Cross is uniquely capable of providing to the most remote places and communities in the country. For instance, this shipment of essential items to Omorate will be met by 25 Red Cross volunteers, who will ensure that it gets to people that need it most.


The work of the ERCS not only benefits people in need, but also provides a steady paycheck for those like Girma, who supports his extended family of eight and pays fees to send his three children to kindergarten.


The warehouse network of the Ethiopian Red Cross Society is an example of how donations from other national societies, like the American Red Cross, work together to improve the health and well-being of people in Ethiopia and around the world.