Dolo Ado — The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) together with Donald E. Booth, the U.S. ambassador to Ethiopia, yesterday inaugurated a new airstrip for the Dolo Ado refugee camps.
The new 1,600-meter-long airstrip was built by the WFP Field Engineering Team in close coordination with Ethiopian civil aviation authorities and road authorities. The construction was funded by a contribution of US $700,000 from the government of the United States of America.
The previous Dolo Ado airstrip was in a river basin, which would often flood during the rainy season, meaning that planes from the UN Humanitarian Air Service (UNHAS) could not land there for as long as a month. Even when floodwaters receded, the strip was often left severely degraded. In past years, this affected humanitarian operations for the refugees during the months of November and December.
“Thanks to the support of the United States, this new airstrip will give aid workers better access to those in need throughout the year, reducing the chance of disruption in lifesaving assistance to refugees who depend upon it to meet their daily needs,” said Abdou Dieng, WFP’s country director in Ethiopia.
To build the new gravel airstrip, workers leveled an area equivalent to 26 soccer fields, installed a four-kilometer drainage system and compacted more than 17,000 square meters of gravel to serve as the landing surface.
U.S. Ambassador Donald Booth said, “On behalf of the American people, I am pleased to inaugurate this vital airstrip, which will allow for year-round access to essential supplies, services, and other necessary activities for the support of the Dolo Ado refugee camps.”
More than 400 Somali refugees still arrive in Dolo Ado each week. In close coordination with UNHCR and the Ethiopian Administration for Refugees and Returnee Affairs (ARRA), WFP provides them with food assistance as well as specialized nutritional support.
Nearly 80 percent of the passengers traveling on UNHAS every day are flying to or from Dolo Ado. The air service provides safe and reliable air transport for aid workers to remote locations around the country, and especially in the Somali Region.
by ; AllAfrica.com