Category: "Food Shortage"

Food shortages in Ethiopia of grave concern, says Ambassador

October 29th, 2009

Food shortages in Ethiopia of grave concern, says Ambassador

MARY FITZGERALD Foreign Affairs Correspondent

Irish Times

POOR RAINFALL has led to a severe deterioration in the levels of food available in parts of Ethiopia, but the unfolding crisis cannot be compared to the 1984 famine, the Irish Ambassador to Ethiopia told an Oireachtas committee yesterday.

Addressing the subcommittee on overseas development, Síle Maguire warned that the situation regarding food shortages in Ethiopia was of grave concern.

Last week, the Ethiopian government announced that the number of people in need of emergency help had reached 6.2 million.

The Irish Government responded swiftly with €1.35 million in humanitarian assistance.

But Ms Maguire noted that the suffering witnessed 25 years ago had not returned.

“This is not to downplay the gravity of the current situation . . . but the manner in which the Ethiopian government, supported by the international community, deals with food shortages has developed very significantly since 1984,” she said.

Over the past three years, Ireland has provided some €126 million towards development in Ethiopia.

Of this, €96 million is channelled through a bilateral programme, while the remaining is allocated through NGOs, UN agencies and missionaries.

“We remain engaged in Ethiopia because our support is yielding significant results. But the needs remain immense,” Ms Maguire said.

“While progress continues to be made, Ethiopia has some very considerable distance to go on key development indicators and there are a number of complex challenges to be navigated in the period ahead.”

Progress on civil society and governance issues had been uneven so far, the Ambassador noted.

A particular priority was to assist civil society groups in adapting to new legislation that restricts the type of activities in which organisations receiving foreign funding can engage, she added.

Ms Maguire downplayed the impact of recent cuts to Ireland’s overseas development budget.

The Ethiopia programme, for which funding has been reduced by €6 million, had already undergone readjustment and rationalisation, according to Ms Maguire.

Children in Ethiopia struggle to be free from legacy of hunger

October 27th, 2009

Children in Ethiopia struggle to be free from legacy of hunger

26 Oct 2009 11:18:28 GMT

Source: International Save the Children Alliance

On the day the Ethiopian government confirmed that 6.2 million people need emergency food aid because of drought and erratic rains, Save the Children warns that half of these - around three million - are children and are the most vulnerable to malnutrition.

This week marks the 25th anniversary of the famine that sparked the Band Aid movement. Ethiopia has come a long way since images of starving people aired on our TV screens, but the most vulnerable children still need urgent help to stop them from going hungry and becoming malnourished. Save the Children is working hard alongside government and non government agencies to make sure that families have access to enough food and nutritional support.

David Throp, Save the Children’s Country Director for Ethiopia, said: "Children are the most vulnerable to malnutrition in any food crisis. The work that the Ethiopian government has done over the last 25 years, supported by agencies like Save the Children, means that children now have a much better chance of making it to their fifth birthday than a generation ago. But there is still a long way to go. The challenge now is to find longer term solutions to ensure that in years to come the most vulnerable children have the opportunity to grow up free from hunger.

“Save the Children is pleased with today’s public recognition of the number of people in need of help in Ethiopia. It’s another important step to getting urgently-needed food to them. It’s vital that the government and its partners work efficiently together to deliver that help now, and to agree quickly what assistance is needed in the first half of next year to address hunger and malnutrition in children.”

The way that the government and aid agencies respond to hunger in Ethiopia has changed dramatically since 1984. New foods to tackle malnutrition have been developed along with more effective early warning systems that have dramatically reduced the under-five mortality rate by almost half in the past 17 years.

Save the Children has pioneered ways of assessing families’ ability to find nutritious food at different times throughout the year and monitoring how vulnerable populations behave when food is scarce, which means assistance can be more effectively delivered.

Mr Throp continued: "These days we've set the bar a lot higher. We aren't just trying to stop people dying, we are working to make children healthy, strong and educated so they grow up to face a better and more secure future." Midge Ure, Save the Children ambassador and Band Aid trustee, said: "We may not have realised it at the time but the Ethiopian famine was our first wake-up call to climate change. Twenty-five years on, we want to see climate change as a priority for the next generation. That's why I'm going back to Ethiopia with my daughter to mark the anniversary".

Save the Children estimates that the price tag for tackling malnutrition for children in Ethiopia is £740 million pounds a year. This would provide a package of interventions to ensure children get a healthy diet, including child benefits to deliver cash to the poorest families to enable them to buy adequate food, and to provide treatment for severely malnourished children. Children affected by malnutrition loose weight, their growth may be stunted and their brains can be permanently damaged which impairs them for the rest of their lives. It is estimated that malnutrition can reduce a country's GDP by 3-6% and cost billions of pounds in terms of lost productivity and additional healthcare spending.

More Information

The under-five mortality rate in Ethiopia in 1990 was 204 deaths per 1,000 live births. In 2007 it was 123. In an upcoming report Save the Children estimates that child and maternity benefits in Ethiopia would cost £595 million and a package of nutrition interventions would cost £146 million per year. Information from the Ethiopian government indicates that the annual loss of productivity attributable to stunting is around £150 million; iodine deficiency costs the country annually around £67 million; and lost productivity due to malnutrition over the next ten years may be as high as £7,200 million.

Why is the West still feeding Ethiopia?

October 25th, 2009

Why is the West still feeding Ethiopia?

By Barry Malone

Reuters Blog

25 years since more than 1 million Ethiopians died as those of us lucky enough to live in the rich world sat transfixed in front of our television screens. The horrible suffering brought with it the biggest outpouring of charity ever seen as governments and ordinary people dug deep to stop it.

But a quarter of a century on foreigners are still feeding a huge number of Ethiopians. The Ethiopian government says poor rains mean 6.2 million of its people need food aid this year and has asked the international community to provide it.

Another 7 million hungry people are on a government-run but foreign-funded scheme that gives food in exchange for work, which means more than 13 million of the country’s 83 million people rely on foreign handouts to survive.

Aid agency Oxfam is now saying that food aid is trapping Ethiopia in a cycle of dependence on the West and that donations could be better spent.

In the valleys of northern Ethiopia much has changed since 1984 when hundreds of thousands of dying people streamed down from the hills desperate for food.

Chinese engineers in huge trucks hurtle down newly built roads financed by their government and children now flow from the hills on the way to school.

Ethiopians say they are sick of their image as a people beset by famine and war and point to foreign investors showing growing interest in their country.

This week I travelled to a small village called Abay where Oxfam and Ethiopian NGO Orda are trying to help the locals become independent of food aid so that, when a drought hits, they will be able to survive without charity.

Men worked fields rich with wheat, young boys threshed barley for a local brewery and women had set up self-help groups and were giving out loans so their members could buy the five sheep necessary to start a breeding business.

The area looked prosperous and the people said they felt more pride now.

A growing number of aid experts — many of them African — say that if more money was spent on schemes like this, rather than on food, then Ethiopians and other Africans dependent on food aid could eventually wean themselves off it.

“I am 100 percent confident that day will come,” one farmer told me, standing in his impressive field of wheat. “Begging is a shameful practice for Ethiopia.”

So is food aid making Africans dependent? Is it time donor countries cut back on it? Should more money be spent on helping people become self-sufficient? Could foreign direct investment improve things? Or is there another answer?

Ethiopia - Staring Death In The Eye

October 24th, 2009
Survivor: Biadglign Befekadu still bears the scars of the famine to this day.

Twenty five years ago, on October 23rd 1984, a devastating famine in Ethiopia was first brought to global attention by the BBC’s Michael Buerk.

The report pricked the world's conscience, leading to a huge charity campaign and the worldwide fundraising concert Live Aid.

Despite the aid effort, the famine killed over a million people.

Miraculously, many were still able to survive - thanks to the work of people like Mulugetha Gebru.

More from BBC World Service ...

Millions starved in Ethiopia, 270,000 children at risk of death

October 23rd, 2009
Okule Buli helps her five-year old daughter Jamila sit up in her bed in the Intensive Care Unit of a medical center run by Medecins Sans Frontiers in Kuyera, Ethiopia, 02 Sep 2008

Editor's Note:

Exactly 25 years ago today, Michael Buerk of the BBC brought a devastating famine in Ethiopia to the world's attention. Unfortunately, 25 years on, Ethiopia is yet again facing another famine. As you read this, 6.2 million people are starving and 270,000 children are at risk of death. As millions of people are starving in Ethiopia, the TPLF mouthpiece of Walta and ENA websites are completely starved of this news. The lead story on Walta is about the opening of a bank branch at Addis Ababa University, go figure.

After several months of denial of a famine in Ethiopia, the regime was forced to make an appeal for an emergency food aid at the 11th hour. Unfortunately this may have come too late for some of our people. To add insult to injury, in 1984 Ethiopia had its own port to receive food aid, thanks to TPLF, it is now a landlocked country.

Where is the outrage in Ethiopia's rubber-stamp parliament and in the media. Drought does not cause famine, only incompetent regimes do. It is the regime stupid, and regime change in Ethiopia is way past due.


Many Severely Malnourished Children in Ethiopia at Risk Of Death

By Lisa Schlein

VOA News

23 October 2009

The United Nations Children's Fund warns many children suffering from severe acute malnutrition in Ethiopia are at risk of death. The United Nations says 6.2 million people in the country are in need of food aid, the highest number for 25 years when one million people died of famine.

Several years of erratic rainfall, high food and fuel prices and the global financial meltdown have robbed Ethiopia of its ability to feed its own people. The United Nations says more than six million people are going hungry.

It warns lack of food weakens peoples' immune system, makes them vulnerable to disease and, possibly, death. Among the most vulnerable are children.

According to the U.N. Children's Fund, an estimated 270,000 children suffer from severe acute malnutrition and are in urgent need of special therapeutic feeding.

In a telephone briefing from Addis Ababa, UNICEF representative in Ethiopia, Ted Chaiban, considers the challenges ahead daunting. But, he says his agency is not without resources.

He says several programs have been functioning for years that are making a difference. One is a productive safety net program, which is a cash and food transfer program for families that lack food.

He says another program provides health services to every village in Ethiopia. And a third program treats severe acute malnutrition at community level.

"The result of that is that you treat children early on and you avoid complications and you save many more lives," said Chaiban. "A child that is severely acutely malnourished that is not treated has a 30 to 50 percent chance of dying. We now have 3,200 points which can do this treatment at community level and that is 1,600 percent increase since 2007."

Chaiban says UNICEF needs nearly $39 million to carry out a few essential activities. He says the agency needs to pre-position ready-to-use therapeutic food to treat severely acutely malnourished children.

He says UNICEF needs money to buy saline solutions and antibiotics to protect children from diarrhea and to establish safe water points. He says insecticide-treated bed nets are needed to protect children from malaria.

And, in some areas, particularly the Somali area of Ethiopia, a critical measles vaccination campaign is being planned. He says this is crucial because the combination of measles and malnutrition is deadly to children.





Related Links

Face of 1984 Ethiopia famine says food aid does not help

Ethiopian government appeals for emergency food aid

World Bank Provides $480 Million to Combat Food Insecurity in Ethiopia

25th anniversary of Ethiopia famine - Has anything changed since?

Ethiopia languishes 25 years after The Great Famine - Video

Ethiopia selling its land to the highest bidder - Washington Post Video