The Ethiopian agency Ogaden
Welfare Society (OWS), which is supervising emergency supplies for the World Food
Programme, said that April's aid consignment has yet to arrive.
OWS distributed 4.5 kilos (10 pounds) of maize and flour to each of around 25,000
starving people near the town of Gode, 500 kilometres (310 miles) southeast of Addis
Ababa, in February and March.
But they now have only emergency supplies for around 2,000 sick children in
special nutritional camp.
Downstream of Gode the situation in the Shabelle has been made more critical by the
arrival of more than 12,000 Somali refugees.
The Somalis have crossed the border into Ethiopia in a desperate bid to reach the last
river in the area not to have dried up in the crippling drought, aid charity sources said.
The Somalis from the province of Bakool face starvation after all their cows, goats and
sheep died of hunger. The waters of the Shabelle are their last hope, but in Somalia it
flows through the territory of a rival clan militia.
Bakool's herdsmen belong to the Rahanwein clan, at war since 1991 with Somali strongman
Hussein Mohamed Aidid's clan, which controls access to the Shabelle.
Facing death, the Bakool Somalis have begun crossing the border into neighbouring
Ethiopia, where they are houseded into refugee camps in the southeast of the country.
Around 6,000 are in Kelafo, which sits on the Shabelle 600 kilometres (375 miles)
southeast of Addis Ababa.
In one camp, run by the Italian medical relief agency CCM and the local group Guardian
(Somali-Ethiopian Relief and Rehabilitation Organisation), the majority of the refugees
are woman, children and old men, suffering from various degrees of malnutrition,
tuberculosis and dysentry, according to the camp director Doctor Renzo Bozzo.
The menfolk are outside the camp working in the fields, where the agencies have set up
an irrigation programme, explained Korja Garane Ahmen, Guardian's executive chairman.
"These are the same populations on both sides of the border. They speak the same
language and we buy a lot from them despite the war," he added.
Until three years ago the herders sold cattle and sheep to Saudi Arabia through the
market in the Somali capital Mogadishu. Riyahd has now banned this trade, according to
Mark Biebber of the United Nations Development Programme, after some of the animals were
found to be infected with Rift Valley Fever, which is contagious and fatal in humans.
But the Somalis arrived in Kelafo without any animals, which have almost all died of
hunger, like those of their Ethiopian neighbours.
The Ethiopian disaster prevention committee (DPPC) that after three years without rain
in the are around Gode region 90 percent of the cattle and 70 percent of the sheep owned
by the rural population have died.
The 95 kilometre (60 mile) road from the provincial capital Gode to Kelafo is lined
with the corpses of dead cattle, sheep and even camels.
Now Ethiopians and Somalis alike are clustered on the banks of the Shabelle around
Kelafo with what animals remain. But even here their miseries continue to multiply.
At least 47 people, mostly children, were killed by crocodiles in February lurking in
the water that represents their last hope of survival.