How Ethiopia Can Overcome the Worst Drought in 50 Years
By Daniel Speckhard
Originally Published in TIME
Daniel Speckhard, a former U.S. Ambassador, is the President of Lutheran World Relief and a non-resident Senior Fellow with the Global Development and Economy program at the Brookings Institution.
But it can't handle the crisis on its own
In the West you can hear a collective groan: Not Ethiopia again. The news coming out of the East African nation is of the worst drought in 50 years.
Fortunately, this is no rerun of the 1983-85 famine that gave us the Live Aid benefit concert for the country, which elevated famine to the international stage and screen and helped secure humanitarian aid. Far more than the music industry has invested in Ethiopia since then, including the U.S. government, helping Ethiopia make impressive strides in fighting poverty, fostering economic growth and improving infrastructure. Unfortunately, Ethiopia’s current crisis threatens to obscure news of its impressive growth.
Over the past several years, Ethiopia has experienced robust economic expansion with a growth rate of 11%, more than twice the regional average, leading some to call it the Lion of Africa. That growth has enabled the country to invest in roads, railways and dams that will eventually boost electricity production and improve transportation to and in its capital city of Addis Ababa.
Significant growth in the agriculture sector was in fact a key factor in reducing, by one-third, the share of Ethiopians living in poverty between 2000 and 2010. Foreign investment as well as a great deal of aid from Western donors, including the U.S., helped to bolster this impressive growth. Ethiopia hopes to become a middle-income country within the next 10 years.
Externally, Ethiopia has continued a pro-active and assertive foreign policy, maintaining a strategic partnership with the U.S. in places such as Somalia to support the African Union Mission in Somalia, and is the world’s second-largest U.N. peacekeeping contributor, with troops serving in Sudan and South Sudan in particular. This kind of stability contrasts with the unsettled nature of the neighborhood, which is scene to civil wars or conflict in Somalia, Yemen, Sudan and South Sudan.
These major strides make it all the more important for the international community to continue its support. Unlike the 1980s where the cause of the food crisis was due in large part to government policy and civil war, the current crisis is being blamed on poor rains and ruined harvests as a result of one of the strongest El Niño weather patterns on record. As much as 75% of harvests have been lost, and water shortages have claimed the lives of as many as 1 million livestock in the affected central and northeastern parts of the country. This drought is projected to cause a food crisis that will require emergency humanitarian food assistance for at least 10 to 15 million people, and threatens to cause severe malnutrition in as many as 430,000 children.
Ethiopia’s success story means that this drought will not result in the mass casualties experienced in the 1980s where hundreds of thousands perished. But a significant food crisis could be all it takes for Ethiopia to fall into an economic and political tailspin. This is not just a humanitarian concern; a food and water crisis could quickly turn into a political crisis. Witness Ethiopia’s own past, or Sudan, or the recent experience in Syria, where a prolonged drought led to urban migration and protests that catalyzed into an organized opposition and eventual civil war.
A built-in fragility still underlies Ethiopia and its government. Politically, the Ethiopian government has pursued its growth agenda while ruling at times with a strong fist. Anti-government protests have been met with violence. Restrictions on press freedom, including the imprisonment of bloggers, has chilled the media. And despite the impressive work by the U.S.-supported Productive Safety Net Program, which has helped make millions more resilient to shocks, about a third of the country still lives in poverty, and many more people are one crisis away from destitution. Most of these are farming families scratching out a living on small, rain-fed plots of land.
This El Nino drought, if combined with an inadequate relief response and the pursuit of internal political agendas, could create the conditions for instability that would have catastrophic consequences locally and regionally. There is a temptation with everything else going on in the world to acquiesce to “compassion fatigue.” The international community cannot let this happen.
In the short run, more funding will be needed. The U.S. announced in December an additional $88 million in aid to Ethiopia to address the drought, an admirable sign of American leadership. But the United Nations has said $1.2 billion will be required for an adequate response, and only a third of this has been funded. Emergency contingency funds are available and our European and other allies and the new donor nations must do their share. Equally important, however, is that we don’t divert resources from other emergencies, like aid to Syrian refugees.
In the longer term, we must accept the fact that the world’s old way of responding to food crises as isolated events is no longer adequate. Climate change is fueling more frequent and more devastating natural disasters, and beyond that, it is triggering simultaneous, pan-regional crises. No longer do we have the luxury of dealing with one situation at a time.
Luckily, we now have tools that forecast many impending crises. The international community must rethink its funding mechanisms and develop a system that makes resources available before disaster strikes, allowing for more rapid and nimble responses and perhaps even averting large-scale crises before they evolve. New innovative tools, such as micro-insurance, need to be more fully developed and broadly available to small-scale farmers to allow them to withstand more frequent weather shocks and help the country recover more quickly. The World Humanitarian Summit, scheduled for May in Istanbul, is an ideal arena for these discussions to begin in earnest. We must move quickly before lives are lost, the seeds of instability are sown, and Ethiopia’s impressive achievements are rolled back.
"The international community has just three weeks to provide $245 million in emergency food aid to help prevent a potentially catastrophic escalation in severe acute malnutrition (SAM) cases..." it said in a statement.
"If these emergency funds do not arrive in time, there is no question that there will be a critical fracture in the food aid supply pipeline," country director John Graham said in the statement.
The $245 million now being sought is the cost of food aid for Ethiopia for the three months from May to July, Graham said.
It can take four months to buy food aid and transport it into landlocked Ethiopia via neighboring Djibouti's congested port, so the window for action "is rapidly closing," the charity said.
The El Nino weather phenomenon has caused drought and flooding across Africa, leaving 20 million people short of food in the south of the continent and 14 million in the east, the United Nations says.
The number in need is greatest in Ethiopia, Africa's second most populous country.
Famine, triggered by war and drought, killed one million people in Ethiopia in 1984. The nation now has one of Africa's fastest-growing economies but many people are still small-scale farmers and herders dependent on seasonal rains.
A $1.4 billion appeal by the government and aid partners for 2016 has raised $680 million, U.N. figures show.
More than 400,000 Ethiopian children under five are predicted to suffer from severe malnutrition this year, and a further 1.7 million under-fives, pregnant women and breast-feeding mothers will need treatment for moderate malnutrition.
The World Food Programme has started importing food from Berbera in Somaliland to speed up the process.
Ethiopia Needs $245 Million by March to Stop More Severe Hunger
By William Davison
Ethiopia needs $245 million of food aid in the next three weeks to prevent a “potentially catastrophic escalation” in chronic malnutrition cases from the end of April after a lack of rain left millions of people in danger of starvation, Save the Children said.
More than 400,000 children will probably need supplementary feeding because of “severe acute malnutrition” later this year after the country’s worst drought in half a century ruined harvests and killed livestock, the non-governmental organization said Wednesday in a statement. Another 1.7 million women and children may become severely malnourished, which can lead to stunting in minors, if there’s a break in food aid delivery, it said.
“It can take around 120 days to purchase and transport food into Ethiopia through Djibouti, so we all must step up now,” said Save the Children Ethiopia Country Director John Graham. “The situation here is as grave as I have ever seen it in the 19 years I have spent in Ethiopia.’’
The effects of El Nino, the ocean-warming trend, have left 10.2 million Ethiopians needing food aid this year. Another 7.9 million “chronically food insecure” people in the Horn of African country of almost 100 million people are receiving support through a regular safety-net program already funded by the government and donors. Aid groups and the Ethiopian authorities have received about half of a $1.4 billion appeal for emergency funds, Save the Children said.
Egypt, Ethiopia, Sudan ministers to receive Renaissance Dam technical report
Source: Al Ahram
The Ethiopian Renaissance dam tripartite technical committee will present a report of the French consultancies' technical offer to the irrigation ministers of Ethiopia, Sudan and Ethiopia Wednesday.
Tuesday marks the third and last day of the committee's meetings in Khartoum.
The tripartite committee has been discussing the joint technical offer by French consultancy firms BRL and Artelia.
Egypt had said the three countries received the technical offer in January to be studied and discussed by the tripartite committee.
A Sudanese official told MENA Monday that the first day's meetings ended on a positive note and that there was mutual understanding between the three parties about common interests.
The contracts with the two consultancies that will conduct impact studies of the dam should be signed early February, Egypt's foreign ministry said last month.
The technical committee was tasked in 2013 to choose consultancy firms to conduct a study on the social, economic, and environmental impact of the dam and a study on the dam's hydraulic effect on downstream countries Egypt and Sudan.
The construction of the 121km road from Merille to Marsabit and the 122km stretch from Turbi to Moyale will be completed in 6 months.
The road connects Mombasa Port to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Transport Principal Secretary John Mosonik said this while inspecting Merille River to Marsabit road which is 77 per cent complete.
Mosonik also inspected the last inspection of the road from Turbi to Moyale; only 15km of the 122km road is yet to be tarmacked.
He was accompanied by Kenya National Highways Authority director general Peter Mundinia.
The larger 498km road project from Isiolo to Moyale was funded by the government, Africa Development Bank and the European Union.
It is key to theLamu Port-South Sudan-Ethiopia-Transport (Lapsset) Corridor.
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