Chances of an improved harvest in northern Ethiopia are threatened by war, floods and locusts, a combination that could bring another year of famine according to relief officials.

They said that although the northern provinces of Eritrea and Tigray had had their heaviest rains in two decades, the prospects for 1988-89 were for a famine as bad as this year's when 3.5 million people needed emergency food.Floods are washing away new seedlings and swarms of locusts threaten to devour any grain that survives.

Thousands of farmers have fled from some of the most fertile areas of the two provinces to escape fighting between the Ethiopian army and the rebel Eritrean and Tigray Liberation Fronts (EPLF and TPLF).