Category: "Food Shortage"

Ethiopian needy 'not getting aid'

September 18th, 2008

Ethiopian needy 'not getting aid'

By Elizabeth Blunt
BBC News, Addis Ababa

Emergency food aid is not getting out fast enough to the people who need it in Ethiopia's troubled Somali region, a top US official says.

Michael Hess, of the US Agency for International Development (USAID), says only 41% of the food allocated for July has reached its intended recipients.

The US supplies nearly all of the aid, and Mr Hess says such distribution is not good enough

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Ethiopia accused of hiding famine as millions starve

September 17th, 2008
A goat herder in the Ogaden desert. Herdsmen say that their children have died from eating poisonous buds from trees for lack of anything else to eat Photo Times

Ethiopia accused of hiding famine as millions starve

By Jonathan Rugman in Jijiga

Army ‘is keeping food from rebel areas’

Ethiopia has been accused of deliberately underestimating the scale of a deadly drought facing millions of its people, some of whom are being deprived of emergency food aid by the country’s military.

The humanitarian crisis, caused by three years of failed rains, currently affects about 4.6 million people, though the official number could jump to as high as 6.7 million this week.

United Nations agencies say that the real number at risk is above 8 million, an estimate disputed hotly by Addis Ababa, which is insisting on publishing a much lower figure.

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Channel 4 News United Kingdom
Nomads blame Ethiopian military as famine threatens


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UN says drought worsening in Ethiopian restive region

UN says drought worsening in Ethiopian restive region

September 17th, 2008

UN says drought worsening in Ethiopian restive region

— The United Nations on Tuesday warned that a shortage of food and water was worsening the effects of a searing drought in Ethiopia's restive Somali region.

"The overall humanitarian situation in the region has worsened due to progressive shortages of water and food," the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said in a statement.

"Food and water shortages have reached critical levels in many areas of the region leading to increased rural-urban migration."

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Ethiopia hungers for food crisis solution

September 9th, 2008

Ethiopia hungers for food crisis solution

By Barney Jopson in Addis Ababa

Source: Financial Times

In the past four years, the rain fell in torrents, Demeke Hafiso’s crops sprouted like clockwork, his three-acre plot filled the stomachs of his nine children – and millions of farmers like him powered the Ethiopian economy to double-digit growth.

This year the rain came too late, he has abandoned his field of dead maize, and is sitting by the bedside of his motionless son in a medical centre run by Médecins Sans Frontières. The 16-year-old’s hollowed-out cheeks betray the starvation that has brought him here.
A drought in Ethiopia’s southern highlands between January and May led to the failure of a harvest that has left 4.6m people needing emergency food aid and 5.7m in drought-affected areas requiring other handouts, according to the United Nations.

It is another of the hunger crises that have struck Ethiopia since the famine of 1984-85, but the rural country, with a population close to 80m, is not facing the starvation on the same apocalyptic scale.

The drought, however, has serious implications for politics and policy. It has punctured the hubris around the government’s agriculture-led development strategy and made it defensive over its commitment to small-scale farming on state-held land.

Steady rain and bumper harvests helped the Ethiopian economy expand by an annual average of nearly 12 per cent over the past four years, a trend that the ruling regime presented as evidence of the agricultural sector getting stronger.

But the withering effect of this year’s drought suggests it may have simply been getting lucky. “We were doing very well and all of a sudden we collapsed,” says Tewodros Gebremichael, country health director of Merlin, a UK-based aid group.

One official at the Economic Commission for Africa, a UN body in Addis Ababa, describes the past four years of plenty as a “missed opportunity”. Assefa Admassie, director of the Ethiopian Economic Association, says: “Ethiopian agriculture needs a structural transformation. If we depend on small farmers and a fragmented, rain-fed system, we’ll always face this problem.”

The government bristles at such criticism. Meles Zenawi, the prime minister, says the problems in the south are the result of a “freak event” and he rejects the assertion that the arable farming system has any flaws. The subject is sensitive for his government – which seized power as a group of bush fighters in 1991 and won a disputed election in 2005 – because it has pinned its legitimacy on agricultural development.

Several years before the global food crisis threw a spotlight on the low productivity of African agriculture, Mr Meles initiated a development programme founded on small-scale farms.

The government introduced improved seed varieties, set up a donor-funded welfare programme to help farmers accumulate assets, and built roads so food could be moved from regions with a surplus to those with a shortage. Productivity rose and so did rural incomes as farmers were encouraged to grow cash crops such as coffee alongside their food.

But observers say the official story of an agricultural transformation does not tally with what they see on the ground, where micro-irrigation systems are sparse and the distribution of drought-resistant crops poor.

One reason for the intractability of Ethiopia’s hunger problem is the pace of population growth – estimated to be 2 to 3 per cent a year – as well as the custom of sub-dividing land between children. Over-cultivation in some areas has already damaged the soil irreversibly.

The government is criticised by liberal commentators for not allowing land to be privately owned, leaving farmers with little incentive to invest in improving their plots. It is a policy that can be traced back to the Meles regime’s command-and-control instincts and its suspicion of market forces.

Eyessus Zafu, president of the Addis Ababa Chamber of Commerce, is one of several businessmen urging the government to go corporate. “Capital-intensive commercial agriculture would have given you the surplus you need,” he says. Bigger farms would create opportunities for land consolidation and mechanisation.

But Mr Meles says it is “patently stupid” to advocate a wholesale switch to big farms.

“The problem that we face this year is not about production. It’s about income distribution, and income distribution in Ethiopia is not going to be improved by abandoning small-scale farms,” he says.

For Mr Demeke, the immediate priority is to avoid having to bring another child to the centre: “The government could give us cows and oxen and we hope God will give us enough rain so we can plant our own food again.

UN says Ethiopian food shortage now alarming

September 8th, 2008

UN says Ethiopian food shortage now alarming

— The U.N. humanitarian office said Monday that food shortages in Ethiopia have reached alarming levels following widespread drought in the country.

Relief organizations are grappling with a "considerable shortage of supplies," with the U.N. World Food Program in need of $136 million for its operation in the Horn of Africa nation, U.N. spokeswoman Michele Montas said.

The U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reports "that the food security situation in Ethiopia has deteriorated to alarming levels in the wake of drought conditions throughout much of the country."

Last week, U.N. humanitarian chief John Holmes visited Ethiopia and said the southeast, scene of a long rebellion, is the most worrying of all the regions affected by severe food shortages. He urged aid agencies to help ensure that Ethiopia's devastating food crisis does not become a famine.

The U.N. says more than four million Ethiopians need emergency assistance and a further eight million need immediate food relief.

Severe floods hit Ethiopia last year, destroying most of the food crops. This year, drought has worsened the situation.

Montas said Monday that flooding in Gambela in southwestern Ethiopia has reportedly displaced nearly 35,000. The World Health Organization has provided emergency drugs and supplies for 10,000 people there, she said.

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UN Humanitarian Chief: Ethiopia In Danger of Famine

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UN aid chief wants more access to Ethiopia's conflict zone (AFP)

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UN Humanitarian Chief: Ethiopia In Danger of Famine (VOA)

Top UN aid official sounds warning on Ethiopia (AFP)

ETHIOPIA: Urban poor finding it harder to get food (IRIN)

Ethiopian food crisis (The World)

Ethiopia's new famine: 'A ticking time bomb' (USA Today)

EU gives more aid to Somalia, Ethiopia and Eritrea

Meles Zenawi says no famine in Ethiopia in Q&A with TIME magazine

Pain amid Plenty (TIME)

Ethiopia faces a new food crisis (Los Angeles Times)

Special Section: Food Shortage in Ethiopia