Category: "Food Shortage"

Food aid withheld ahead of Ethiopia election say aid agencies

December 21st, 2009

Food aid withheld ahead of Ethiopia election say aid agencies

Dec 21, 2009 02:49 PM


Aid workers in Ethiopia are looking into how international aid is delivered after claims by opposition political parties that their members were being denied food before the elections in May.

Aid workers in Ethiopia are looking into how international aid is delivered after claims by opposition political parties that their members were being denied food before the elections in May.A group of eight opposition parties called the Forum, has said that some officials are only letting members of the ruling political party get help through a food-for-work programme that helps more than seven million Ethiopians survive. The World Bank is the main funder of the food-for-work scheme followed by Britain and the United States.The authorities have denied the allegations, which commentators predict could put the 20-year-old government of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi at risk."Foreign aid organisations are going to examine the system here together," a senior aid worker told Reuters news service.

About 6.2 million extra Ethiopians will need emergency food this year, according to government estimates, and this is on top of the more than seven million on the food-for-work scheme.The aid departments of some Western donor governments would take part in the investigation and aid workers believe the problems were at a regional level, with local officials settling scores. "But, at the moment, we don't believe it's sanctioned at the highest levels of government," the senior official said.Prime Minister Meles has dismissed the claims, but said that he could not vouch for every person in the distribution system. "So all I can ask is give me the proof and the person will be kicked out," he told a news conference earlier this month.

A company run by the ruling party also owns three of the biggest trucking firms carrying food aid. A senior United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) official said Ethiopia was one of few countries where the government had almost total control over the distribution of relief food. "But that's not necessarily a negative point," Lynne Miller, WFP's deputy director in Ethiopia said. "We try to improve the ability of countries to respond to their own emergencies and Ethiopia is now very capable." She said that the WFP was on the whole satisfied with the distribution system and that it would investigate any specific complaint.

Ethiopia is one of Africa's poorest states. Many Ethiopians depend on food aid from abroad. In 2004 the government began a drive to move more than two million people away from the arid highlands of the east in an attempt to provide a lasting solution to food shortages. Ethiopia's last elections ended violently in 2005 when security forces killed about 200 protesters after the opposition accused the government of rigging its victory.

Group Warns Drought Worsening in East Africa as More Rains Fail

December 18th, 2009

Group Warns Drought Worsening in East Africa as More Rains Fail

By Alan Boswell | Nairobi

VOA News

Aid group Oxfam says millions of people across East Africa are fighting for basic survival after another consecutive rainy season failed. The next rains are not expected in many of the hardest-hit areas until April - although there is no guarantee these will come either.

Large parts of East Africa have been suffering under a drought now for months - and in some cases, for years. El Niño rains were to provide some wet relief to the area, but they fell more moderately than expected and missed many of the areas most in need.

Parts of northern Kenya, northeastern Uganda, central and eastern Ethiopia, and Somalia, including Somaliland, are some of the areas most affected.

The deputy humanitarian director at Oxfam, Jeremy Loveless, just returned from a visit to drought-hit Somaliland. He describes what he witnessed.

"What we were seeing was areas that looked like you would expect them to look in a couple months time, which means that clearly there was not enough rain in this last season and it did not go on long enough," said Jeremy Loveless. "There will be very serious stress on animal welfare before the next rains come. And given the fact that animals are the main source of income for these people, this is very serious indeed."

Loveless says that rains have been "poor and patchy" in parts of the wider region for at least four years.

The group reports that over 1.5 million domestic animals have died across Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania, with herders in Somaliland reporting that they have lost over 70 percent of their herds. Things are so desperate that some families in Kenya reported selling cattle for as little as $4 a head, about 2 percent the normal price.

In the northern Kenya region of Turkana, the group says that nearly one-third of the population is malnourished and 1.4 million people are reportedly in need in Uganda, 5 million in Ethiopian, 3.6 million in Somalia, and 1.5 million people in Tanzania.

Rain charts show that normal drought cycles have been more frequent in parts of the East and Horn of Africa region for more than a decade.

Many point to global climate change as the source of the quickening pattern, although most acknowledge no clear evidence exists to concretely link the two.

Fears the droughts could be signaling a long-term regional climate shift has sparked some environmental activists to warn of future crises of "climate refugees," as parts of the region become increasing inhospitable and some people are unable to suitably adjust to their changing homelands.

Loveless says that the drought cycles have recently become so relentless, that even a fully functional rainy season will now not be enough to get many of the region's inhabitants back on their feet.

"The problem we have is that with each drought, people become more impoverished, and they do not have time to recover their savings and their income before the next drought occurs," he said. "So we are getting increasing impoverishment and one reasonable rainy season in some parts of the region is not enough to bring people back to where they were before."

Somalia is said to be suffering from its worst drought in two decades, as it has now experienced six poor seasons of rain in a row.

Nearly 5 million Ethiopians will need food aid in first half of 2010, UN reports

December 9th, 2009

Nearly 5 million Ethiopians will need food aid in first half of 2010, UN reports

Source: UN

8 December 2009 –

Some 4.8 million Ethiopians will require emergency food and related aid costing $270 million for the first six months of 2010 in a country already plagued by prolonged drought and crop failure, according to United Nations estimates released today.

“Despite the collaborative efforts of the Government and humanitarian partners to address ongoing humanitarian challenges in Ethiopia, humanitarian needs are expected to remain,” the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said, citing a joint plan led by Ethiopian authorities, UN agencies, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and donors.

Food requirement stands at 529,148 tons. Considering the possible carry-over stock from 2009 and confirmed pledges available for 2010, totalling to 272,612 tons, the net food requirement for regular relief is estimated to be 256,536 tons, at $195.2 million.

A further 26,500 tons of supplementary food, amounting to $24 million, is also required, while $50.9 million is needed for non-food requirements in heath and nutrition, water and sanitation, and agriculture and livestock sectors.

In October this year Ethiopia needed an additional $175 million to help feed 6.2 million people, a number that had risen steadily from 4.9 million in January. The food security situation had already been weakened by poor rains in 2008 and the impact of the high food prices globally.

Why Ethiopians remain hungry?

November 30th, 2009

Why Ethiopians remain hungry

By Geoffrey York

A casual visitor to Ethiopia’s capital city is quickly impressed by the smooth new roads and gleaming skyscrapers these days.

Sure, it has shacks and slums, but in comparison to most of Africa’s sprawling chaotic capitals, Addis Ababa seems to be a neat and tidy city, relatively well-organized and controlled.

Read Full Article from Globe & Mail

Ethiopia: Shoots of life in drought-ravaged land

November 29th, 2009
Formerly with the BBC, Caroline Gluck works as a roving field-based press officer for Oxfam, deployed quickly to cover both sudden and emerging humanitarian crises wherever they occur Photo

Ethiopia: Shoots of life in drought-ravaged land

By Caroline Gluck

Source: Oxfam

What’s being done to protect people from the worsening drought in Ethiopia? Caroline Gluck reports.

Mother of eight Momina Hashu surveyed her field of maize with despair. ”We hardly have anything to eat – just leftovers”, she said, pointing to a couple of stunted cobs of maize that she’s managed to salvage from the wilting, yellowed plants on her land.

“We’ve sold all our cattle. This is the worst year we’ve faced in recent years. As long as my children aren’t eating properly, I’m very worried for them.”

Watch my video report below:


It’s the third year of failed rains in the region and people are suffering. Many have already sold off livestock and other assets to get by. Thousands are receiving support under a government food safety net programme; but many more don’t receive any help and are now struggling to feed their families.

I met Momina in her field of withered maize on the way to visit an Oxfam project in Arsi Negelle district, Oromia region, about 250 kilometres south of the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa. It is one of the most fertile parts of the country. But most farmers rely on rain-fed agriculture and Ethiopia, like much of East Africa, is currently facing drought and serious food shortages. The government says inadequate rains mean 6.2 million people need aid this year and has appealed to the international community to help.

Oxfam is working in several villages in Arsi Negelle district with a local partner, the Rift Valley Women’s Development Association (RCWDA). Projects target smallholder farmers, providing them with skills and training, helping them access fertilisers and seeds so they can diversify their crops and earn higher prices for their produce.

Villagers have been paid for their labour in cash-for-work programmes to rehabilitate and clean old irrigation channels that had fallen into disrepair and disuse and building access roads so that goods can get to the markets more quickly.

Farmers have been organised into local co-operatives, allowing them to pool resources and have a stronger bargaining power for their goods; and women’s self-help groups have been set up, giving members access to small loans and training.

In Keraru village, farmer, 45-year-old father of twelve, Hussein Mohammed, says that his life has dramatically changed since the project began two years ago.

He’s harvesting a healthy crop of tomatoes from plot of land less than a hectare in size, which is well-irrigated from a nearby river. “I now have 14,000 birr [about £700] in the bank and I’ve bought four oxen”, he said proudly. “Also, I’m sending all my children to school now.

“We’re surviving the drought because of this production”, he said, explaining that another plot of non-irrigated land, where he’d planted maize, had failed completely.

Encouraging farmers like Hussein to grow alternative high-value crops like tomatoes, onions and potatoes, which can be harvested several times a year, rather than the traditional staples of wheat, maize and teff [an Ethiopian cereal], which can only be harvested once a year, has meant a big increase in their income.

Life has also improved for many women like 30-year-old mother of seven, Arabe Geleto, who’ve joined women’s self-help groups. Not only are they earning more money now, but their self-confidence has grown. Arabe has opened a small shop with a loan; grows vegetables on a small plot of irrigated land and regularly travels to Arsi Negelle town, where she processes grain grown in the village which is then sold in a shop set up by co-operative members.

“Before, I sat at home and took what we harvested to the local market. Now I’m travelling around, taking food from the village to town and back. Things have improved four-fold, I’d say. My confidence has grown, we’ve gained better information and education because now I’m involved in many things.”

Oxfam-funded projects are clearly making a difference. They’re giving communities greater resilience and a sense of pride. But millions need help. Emergency food aid may be an immediate solution to tide people over in the short term. But with climate scientists predicting that drought will soon become the norm in Ethiopia, much more needs to be done to help communities better protect themselves so that future shocks, like drought, don’t develop into disasters.

East Africa Food Crisis