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Ethiopia: African Hunger Games at Camp David
By Alemayehu G. Mariam
White House spokesman Jay Carney announced last week that President Obama has invited the presidents of Ghana, Tanzania, Benin and Meles Zenawi to attend the G8 Summit (the forum for the governments of eight of the world's largest economies) for a discussion of food security on May 19 at Camp David (Presidential retreat) in Maryland. The U.S. has been handing out food aid to the African continent for decades. Now President Obama says there is another looming “food crises” in Africa. Oxfam says, “All signs point to a drought becoming a catastrophe if nothing is done soon.” The U.N. Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) has issued appeals for an extra $70 million to aid some 800,000 households in the drought-hit Sahel region in West Africa. Ethiopia and Somalia are expected to be ground zero for the anticipated famine. According to the April 25, 2012 report of the USAID-funded Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET), southern Ethiopia will most likely experience famine: “The anticipated below-average rains will have significant negative impact on crop production, pasture regeneration, and the replenishment of water resources throughout the region, with the most severe and immediate impactin belg-dependent areas of southern Ethiopia.” Over the past couple or so years, I have written over one-half dozen commentaries on famine and food shortages in Ethiopia. (See links below.)
The Hunger Word Games in Ethiopia
Ethiopian governments over the past four decades have blamed food shortages and famines on everything except their own indifference, incompetence and negligence. Emperor Haile Selassie in 1974 pretended there was no famine until “The Hidden Famine” by Jonathan Dimbleby was aired to a shocked and angry Ethiopian public. Former socialist junta leader Mengistu was arrogantly dismissive of the 1984-85 famine in which an estimated one million people perished. Mengistu would contemptuously respond to reporters by challenging them, “What famine?”
Zenawi is more clever than his predecessors. He plays public relations and semantic games with famine in the country. He will use any word, except the “F” word, to describe the chronic and massive food shortages in the country. For Zenawi there is “no famine in Ethiopia”, only “spot shortages,” “severe malnutrition”, “food insecurity”, “food crisis”, “serious drought” and so on. “Food shortages” are not the result of poor agricultural planning and practices, official incompetence, massive corruption, criminal negligence, etc., but are caused by “drought conditions,” “erratic rains” “damaged or delayed crops”, “deforestation”, “soil erosion,” “overgrazing” and other ecological factors. In January 2012, Zenawi once again denied famine in Ethiopia in a CNN interview: “Ethiopia is facing a major famine. How can you justify spending on a military operation in another country when your own people are starving?” Zenawi responded, “There is no famine in Ethiopia as all humanitarian organizations will tell you. There is a serious drought, but we are able to keep our people fed….”
The international poverty mongers/pimps (PMPs) have invented a “scientific” classification system for “food shortages” behind which Zenawi has been able to hide the true magnitude and severity of the problem in the country. The euphemisms of the PMPs avoid the "F" word altogether regardless of the extremity of the food shortage. For the PMPs the conditions fall into one of the following categories: “Acute Food Insecurity, Stressed, Crisis, Emergency and Catastrophe.” It is “scientifically” impossible to have famine in Africa! So the conspiracy of silence goes on to keep famine in Ethiopia hidden by clever use of masking euphemisms.
Zenawi and his top lieutenants have been promising to end “food shortages caused by drought” in a very short time. In 2009, Simon Mechale, head of the country's “Disaster Prevention and Preparedness Agency”, proudly declared: “Ethiopia will soon fully ensure its food security.” For several years now, Zenawi has been advertising his “Productive Safety Net Programme” as the mechanism to end the “cycle of dependence on food aid” by bridging "production deficits and protecting household and community assets". In October 2011 Zenawi told his party faithful: “We have devised a plan which will enable us to produce surplus and be able to feed ourselves by 2015 without the need for food aid.” Zenawi’s “plan to produce surplus” is by “leasing” out millions of hectares of the country’s prime agricultural land to so-called international investors (land grabbers) whose only aim is to raise crops for export. Ethiopia will produce food to feed other nations while Ethiopians starve. Zenawi has adamantly opposed private ownership of land, which by all expert accounts is the single most important factor in ensuring food security in any nation. Yet last year, food inflation in Ethiopia remained at 47.4 percent.
Food has been used as a political weapon in Ethiopia. Hunger has been the new weapon of choice to generate support for Zenawi’s regime and to decimate his political rivals. Zenawi has been pretty successful in crushing the hearts, minds and spirits of the people by keeping their stomachs empty. Those who oppose Zenawi's regime are not only denied humanitarian food and relief aid, they are also victimized through a system of evictions, denial of land or reduction in plot size as well as denial of access to loans, fertilizers, seeds, etc. In the case of the people of Gambella in western Ethiopia, entire communities have been forced off the land to make way for Indian “investors” in violation of international conventions that protect the rights of indigenous peoples. Human Rights Watch, among other organizations, has raised serious concerns over the misuse of humanitarian food aid: “The Ethiopian government is routinely using access to aid as a weapon to control people and crush dissent. If you don't play the ruling party's game, you get shut out. Without effective, independent monitoring, international aid will continue to be abused to consolidate a repressive single-party state.” In 2009, U.S. State Department promised to investigate allegations that “$850 million in food and anti-poverty aid from the U.S. is being distributed on the basis of political favoritism by the current prime minister's party.” No report has been issued.
In 2011, U.S. Census Bureau made the frightening prediction that Ethiopia's population by 2050 will more than triple to 278 million. Ethiopia’s chronic “food insecurity” is expected to get increasingly worse culminating in a “Malthusian catastrophe” (where disease, starvation, war, etc. will reduce the population to the level of food production) in the foreseeable future. Zenawi’s regime has failed to implement a national family planning program which will avert such a catastrophe.
Famine in Ethiopia is Ninety Percent Man-Made
In 2011, Wolfgang Fengler, a lead economist for the World Bank, in a refreshingly honest moment for an international banker said, “The famine in the Horn of Africa is a result of artificially high prices for food and civil conflict than natural and environmental causes. This crisis is manmade. Droughts have occurred over and again, but you need bad policymaking for that to lead to a famine.” In other words, it is bad and poor governance that is at the core of the famine problem in Ethiopia, not drought or other environmental causes. Penny Lawrence, Oxfam's international director, after visiting Ethiopia observed: “Drought does not need to mean hunger and destitution. If communities have irrigation for crops, grain stores, and wells to harvest rains then they can survive despite what the elements throw at them.” Martin Plaut, BBC World Service News Africa editor explains that the “current [Ethiopian food] crisis is in part the result of policies designed to keep farmers on the land, which belongs to the state and cannot be sold.” So the obvious questions are: Why does a regime that has rejected socialism and is presumably committed to a free market economy insist on complete state ownership of land? Why is there not an adequate system of irrigation for crops, grain storages and wells to harvest rains throughout the country? Does
Zenawi really have a food security policy for the country?
The Hunger Games at Camp David
After four decades at the humanitarian food aid trough, it is unlikely that Ethiopia will achieve food security even in the distant future. President Obama is rightly concerned over the "food shortages" in the Horn and the Sahel in the coming year. Last month, the United States pledged to provide nearly $200 million in additional humanitarian aid to the Horn in anticipation of “poor rains and drought”. In 2011, the U.S. provided over $1.1 billion in humanitarian aid to Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia.
On May 19, President Obama and the G8 leaders will have to face some tough questions: What is the moral hazard of endlessly supplying food relief to the Horn countries? Why should the world continue to help a country that leases millions of hectares of the most fertile land in the country and become the breadbasket for India and the Middle East while its people are starving? Why should the world provide food aid to a country when the ruling regime weaponizes the aid to decimate opposition, crush the democratic aspirations of the people and flagrantly violate human rights? Does aiding dictators who use food aid for political purposes end famine and food shortages in Africa?
The G8 leaders can talk about “food shortages” until the cows come home, but the answer to famine in Ethiopia and in the Horn is not never ending handouts to starving populations and free lunches to panhandling dictators. Handouts create a moral hazard of negative dependency by recipients which incapacitates them from fending for themselves. Zenawi and the other African dictators have no incentive to address the "food shortage" issue because they are absolutely and positively sure that the U.S. and other G8 countries will ALWAYS deliver humanitarian food aid to their starving populations year after year. As a world leader, the U.S. has a moral obligation to provide humanitarian food aid to famine victims; but it also has the moral responsibility of leveraging the billions in handouts (development aid, loans from the multilateral institutions and budget support payments) to dictators to promote democracy, human rights and rule of law in Africa.
In May 2010, Zenawi’s party won 99.6 percent of the seats in parliament. Despite two decades of one-party domination, Zenawi has not been able to do much to address the structural problem of food insecurity in the country. But he has been blowing his horn about bogus stratospheric economic growth. Ethiopians suffer from chronic food shortages and famine because they lack a political framework that can deal effectively with the problem. The Indian economics Nobel laureate Amartya Sen argued that the best way to avert famines is by institutionalizing democracy and strengthening human rights: “No famine has ever taken place in the history of the world in a functioning democracy” because democratic governments “have to win elections and face public criticism, and have strong incentive to undertake measures to avert famines and other catastrophes.” Famines are kept hidden from public view by jailing opposition leaders, journalists and civic society advocates who could sound the alarm over an impending famine.
What Should the U.S. Do for Ethiopia?
All the U.S. needs to do for Ethiopia is practice what it preaches. In 2009 in Accra, Ghana President Obama preached:
Development depends on good governance. History offers a clear verdict: Governments that respect the will of their own people, that govern by consent and not coercion, are more prosperous, they are more stable, and more successful than governments that do not. No country is going to create wealth if its leaders exploit the economy to enrich themselves. No person wants to live in a society where the rule of law gives way to the rule of brutality and bribery. That is not democracy, that is tyranny. And now is the time for that style of governance to end…. In the 21st century, capable, reliable, and transparent institutions are the key to success -- strong parliaments; honest police forces; independent judges; an independent press; a vibrant private sector; a civil society. Those are the things that give life to democracy, because that is what matters in people's everyday lives…. History is on the side of these brave Africans, not with those who use coups or change constitutions to stay in power. Africa doesn't need strongmen, it needs strong institutions. With better governance, I have no doubt that Africa holds the promise of a broader base of prosperity….
Listening to Zenawi plead for more aid before the G8 to deal with the looming “food crises” (but “no famine”) is like listening to the man who killed his parents and asked for leniency from the court because he is an orphan. Now that's a chutzpah!
Amharic translations of recent commentaries by the author may be found at:
Author's prior commnetaries on famine in Ethiopia:
The "Silently" Creeping Famine: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/alemayehu-g-mariam/ethiopias-silently-creepi_b_418068.html
What Should the World Do To Save Starving Ethiopians?http://open.salon.com/blog/almariam/2011/08/28/what_should_the_world_do_to_save_starving_ethiopians
Why are Ethiopians Starving Again in 2011? http://open.salon.com/blog/almariam/2011/08/20/why_are_ethiopians_starving_again_in_2011
“Famine and the Noiseome Beast”
Ethiopia: Apocalypse Now or in 40 Years? http://open.salon.com/blog/almariam/2011/07/10/ethiopia_apocalypse_now_or_in_40_years
Ethiopia: Starve the Beast, Feed the People!http://open.salon.com/blog/almariam/2011/08/14/ethiopia_starve_the_beast_not_the_people
Ethiopia: Meles Zenawi and the Weaponization of Faminehttp://open.salon.com/blog/almariam/2011/08/07/ethiopia_meles_zenawi_and_the_weaponization_of_famine
The conclusion well thought out and well stated.
Meles is a dictator who has long overstayed his welcome and is an obstacle to true progress and democracy.
His agenda is based on TPLF’s hence his undoing and the distraction his causing.
Almeii. G. M
the land to make way for Indian “investors” in violation of international conventions that protect the rights of indigenous peoples. Human Rights Watch, among other organizations, has raised serious concerns over the ……
Did you say human Right watch? Did you say international
Are n’t these groups whom you mention above the main obstacle for any Developement in ethiopia and in generally in Africa? You must be brain washed by these parasites western made org. to keep Africa in darkness while their own masters poluting ,raping the natural resource in order to keep their western countries wealthy standardes .
Are n’t you ashamed to come here speate your Sunday Protestant or pint conte church propaganda. ?
What do n’t you voice your masters those parasites charities and NGO who are destroying Ethiopia by infecting the entire population to become beggars? Why not a few critics about the western virus charities that keeping us to be known b whole world as a beggar nation? How about a few words? Come on we know you th these are the agents you are working and get paid by them and you have been ordered to write such a crab by them just to full some idiots or you are one of those crack heads Ethiopians in Washington DC. with no job like those Fessam ,wellawayee shimmagiles party with no vision or gut to fight weyannes in addis streets,rather sitting in front of your lap top telling the poor to die for you.
As for Indias investors , you prefer westerners free food by begging year after year. You do not want to see any India to invest his money in Ethiopia so, wha is the solution? You answer is quite clear to me. Red cross, oxfam, USAIDs, charities begging and begging and begging the western donors. That is your solution supported by your Human right, full of phadxcxophles,homxczxxxos and lesxxxbians .
Ethiopia needs investors and the indias and chines are there to invest and we see already a changes in a short time compare to your charities and NGO who have been there for the last 30 years with no Developement or progress at all so, why no gve a chance to ndias and chines a few more years no matter you and your master wester parasities charities and NGO or human Righ (a homxcxmo and lesbxcxcian)org. Says.
Give chines and India a chanc and let them grabe . Did not the western colonised us by all means and turn that continent to dakness? What are to loose,you are already been condemned by western as a beggar and humiliated by all sorts of their media and now you stand behind them with their prostitutes political agenda to criticise the investors in Ethiopia.
I am not here to stand behind weyannes or support their political agenda but when it comes to investment in ethiopia well, I sure stand with the Devil than those parasites charities and NGO.
Pleas ,,next time when you wake up from your sleep make sure you have no left your tiny brain under western pillow.
stand beside Devil
Angry Dog is shouting as usual.
USA international policy concerning
Africa and third world countries has
never evoluted .Today as by the past founded on protecting by any means geo
strategical interests dealing with local despots and Tyrants .Afterall
Mr Obama policy has never deferred from his predecessors !!!The crime minister is playing the same game played by the past times by the then Congolese Tyrant :Mobutu ,the then
Egyptian despot :Mubarak and many others actually wiped out by the peoples riots .Obama’s 2009 Accra’s speech had been a cold case after the
last sentence !!!!!
What a bore!!! Give me Cést Moi’s anytime!!!!!!!!!!!
Almaria’s favorite word FAMINE has been in his mouth for almost a decade. Whether famine exists in Africa or not he doesn’t care, but as long as the govt of EPRDF is in power, he will continue to be a dooms day preacher, mostly predicting FAMINE and desaster to hit Ethiopia any time soon. And the word F A M I N E will be also his inheritance to his followers and loved ones as a final word in his death bed, before his wishes of catastrophe and calamity hit Africa.
Looser almaria, to show your jealosy and resentment on the brilliant great leader Africa ever have, PM Meles Zenawi, you don’t need to wish a catastrophe and human calamity on hundreds of millions of Africans. You’re only making an ass of yourself. Get a life … I mean just kill yourself. We are tired of your misery.
Almaria went mad once again as he sees right under his nose Meles the brilliant making his way into the G-8 meeting. Go lunatic Almaria; go mad like a March hare and kill yourself. You see how all your 20 year bla bla blas are dustbinned?Hahaha. An old man who knows no shame and ignominy.
Hello, prof. you have to change your name,the name Hailemariame belong to Christian Tgrawaye not the later converted Amhara name. To say some is’t the word famine in dictionery given an example ethiopia during your comered mengustu incontrast the fastest developing in the whole world during your Great PM. Meles. Yechenekew erguze yagebal alu.
The usual begging process by the shifta Ag*** at the Camp David!!!
Whate else is new except the usual My Ethiopia as poster child for famine in the world.
These bunch of thugtators are embarassing the whole nation at the expense of stealing in the name of my homeland for 2 decades.
The genie is out of the bottle.
There is no drought in Ethiopia but all men made problem.
This is another excuse to prop up the failing and in danger 21 years of dictator Meles.
President Obama should say enough to giving aid to dictator Meles Zenawi. Instead Meles should be escorted to the ICC ( international criminal courted( chained and hand cuffed.
Gameblla by itself is feeding rich countries such as Saudi Arabia and India. Some parts of Ethiopia is also feeding, Turkey, China, India, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and so on. Yet we keep hearing this lies about drought in Ethiopia.
THE ALMARIAM’S, BERHANU NEGA’S AND LIKES HAVE BEEN TALKING FOR THE LAST 3000 THOUSAND YEARS , I SAY BUILD Meles BUILD AND TALK Almariam TALK (FAKE ETHIOPIAN )THE DESTINY OF THE COUNTRY IS DETERMINED BY THE YOUTH OF MODERN ETHIOPIA , SADLY FOR ANY SINIORS LIKE ALMARIAM , WRITING UNENDING GARBAGE IS A SIGN OF DESPARATION . DO NOT UNDERESTIMATE THE PEOPLE AND SPECIALLY THE YOUTH OF ETHIOPIA . THEY ARE IN FIRM CONTROL OF THEIR DESTINY AND DEFINITLY NO PLACE FOR MORONS LIKE ALMARIAM .
i just change my mind, i will not waste my time anymore. I’m terribly regret to vote for Obama last time. I won’t fool myself again.
Please refer below UN briefing for your comparison with the above article
14 May 2012 –
A United Nations humanitarian official today praised the Ethiopian Government for its innovative and effective efforts to build resilience and food self-sufficiency amid increasingly challenging climatic conditions.
“Ethiopia has made quite incredible advances in mitigating the impact of drought,” said the Operations Director at the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), John Ging, in a news release following a two-day visit to Ethiopia.
“Multi-year investments in safety nets and significant advances in health and nutrition have saved countless lives and protected millions from the famine experienced elsewhere in the Horn of Africa,” he said, adding that “the successful policies pursued by the Ethiopian Government provide an invaluable experience to share, not just elsewhere in the Horn [of Africa], but also across the drought-ridden Sahel.”
The Horn of Africa experienced a food crisis last year that left an estimated 13 million people dependent on humanitarian assistance. Currently there are 15 million people facing food insecurity in Africa’s Sahel region, which stretches from the Atlantic Ocean to the Red Sea.
Mr. Ging met with Government officials, humanitarian partners and representatives of the donor community to discuss the impact of the delayed onset of the belg short rains, which normally occur from mid-February to May. He voiced his appreciation of the readiness of donors and aid agencies to provide the resources required to respond quickly to the additional challenge, in partnership with the Government.
On a visit to a therapeutic feeding centre in the town of Boricha in Ethiopia’s Southern Nations Nationalities and People Region, Mr. Ging noted that he heard mothers’ concerns about their inability to feed their children and the delayed planting of crops.
“It is heartbreaking to see children so acutely malnourished,” said Mr. Ging. “Their immediate suffering, and the long-term damage done to their learning abilities, leaves us all in agreement that more must be done to protect and prevent children from ending up in these centres.”
The humanitarian official commended government officials and aid agencies for expanding targeted and general food distributions, and encouraged them to continue to act quickly and decisively, noting that “prevention is always better than cure.”
Addis zemen,heny and yohnnes aka Buhakoch…, your brain is infected by your master evil propagand. You are the runt piglets. Stop drooling you will soon realize your stupidity.
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