Hunger & malnutrition stock Ethiopia – 6.5 mil more people than the 10 mil chronic international food aid dependents

14 May

By Keffyalew Gebremedhin – The Ethiopia Observatory

In Ethiopia, the World Bank constantly campaigns that Ethiopia has one of the most successful Productive Safety Net Programs (PSNP), which started in 2005. To this day, the program continues the people benefiting from it identified as chronically dependent on aid – betrayed by exhausted and destroyed habitat. There are over 300 districts, almost 50 percent of the nation’s administrative districts whose lands have been totally degraded.

The tragedy is that graduation from the PSNP has become increasingly difficult, although the program is saluted as exemplary to other developing countries. For Ethiopians, nonetheless, any story of hunger or another spectre of it on the country such as this now is something they would like to run away from as fast as possible – a mission, a desire that has proved unattainable, as the past nine years have shown.

Disaster Risk management and Food Security Sector Emergency Woreda,first half 2013 The delineation of national and international boundaries must not be considered authoritative Data (courtesy of DRMFSS)

Disaster Risk management and Food Security Sector
Emergency Woreda, 1st half 2013
(Courtesy of DRMFSS)

[Click to magnify]

Consequently, in a country where already 10 million people, according to World Bank Country Director Guang Z. Chen, ten million people are dependent on international food aid on a continual basis, the World Food Program (WFP) announced Tuesday that it is making preparations to feed additional 6.5 million people in Ethiopia.

This brings the total population dependent on international food aid nearly 17 million, including some 500,000 refugees from neighboring countries.

This latest change in the number is caused by inadequate rainfall, locusts and conflicts in the sub-region, according to Reuters

A more serious consideration of the hunger situation and wellbeing of people in Ethiopia shows that its long-term consequences are far more serious and are quietly but significantly debilitating to Ethiopia. This is, therefore, another story and side of Ethiopia – one of the ten fastest growing economies in the world – whose story of competition between hunger and fast economic growth has become perplexingly confusing, unable to mask the hunger, the stunting and death of children.

In February, I penned article on whether Ethiopia is a failed or fragile state. In that article, I stated:

    “Ethiopia is repeatedly referred to as a failed state, especially by Foreign Policy and the think tank the Fund for Peace (FFP) – a conclusion which has dumbfounded many skeptics. In the views of many, a slight problem with this conclusion is its mixing of processes and ends.

    Others prefer to see Ethiopia described as a fragile state. In this latter category are almost all donor governments and regional and international organizations. Nevertheless, the question now should be what the distinction between a failed and fragile state is and what is being done to overcome the problem/the danger.


    In that regard, FPP’s three criteria relate to Ethiopia’s experiences and are premised on social, economic and political gauges. Their occurrences, especially their frequencies, point to a state on point of failure. It mainly denotes law abiding state’s inability to take control of the situation.

    These three FFP factors that tie with the above-mentioned Ethiopian experiences are:

    (a) Mounting demographic pressure, massive displacement of citizens, refugees, widespread vengeance-seeking group grievances, chronic and sustained human flights.
    (b) The country experiencing uneven economic development along group lines and severe economic decline; and

    (c) Deterioration of public services, human rights abuses and security the nation’s apparatus operating as state within the state, as does the military giving rise to factionalized elites (ethnic based) and intervention of external political elites (donors).

    The Crisis States Research Centre (CSRC) makes the distinction between failed states and fragile states at the level of vulnerability and as a condition. In other words, it sees a fragile state as a state which is susceptible to crisis. Failed state is a “condition of state collapse”. From this, the argument is weightier on the side of Ethiopia being a fragile state.”

This latest hunger report is indication of Ethiopia’s vulnerability, worsened by the regime’s politics and inability to create the necessary conditions for institutions to thrive and the rule of law to facilitate human actions, instead of the TPLF leadership’s whims.

The implications of continuing hunger are very serious for Ethiopia. For instance, a report synthesized by a team of national and international experts in coordination with the Ethiopian Ministry of Health and the country’s Health and Nutrition Research Institute – The Cost of Hunger in Ethiopia: Implications for the Growth and Transformation of Ethiopia</em> – which summarized the silent danger Ethiopia has been facing in 10 Things Everyone Should Know about Child Nutrition in Ethiopia.

These are:

      1.   Today, more than 2 out of every 5 children in Ethiopia are stunted.

      2.   As many as 81 percent of all cases of child undernutrition and its related pathologies go untreated.

      3.   44 percent of the health costs associated with undernutrition occur before the child turns 1 year-old.

      4.   28 percent of all child mortality in Ethiopia is associated with undernutrition.

      5.   16 percent of all repetitions in primary school are associated with stunting

      6.   Stunted children achieve 1.1 years less in school education.

      7.   Child mortality associated with undernutrition has reduced Ethiopia’s workforce by 8%

      8.   67 percent of the adult population in Ethiopia suffered from stunting as children.

      9.   The annual costs associated with child undernutrition are estimated at Ethiopian birr (ETB) 55.5 billion, which is equivalent to 16.5 percent of GDP.

      10.   Eliminating stunting in Ethiopia is a necessary step for growth and transformation.

The report’s message is:

    “When a child is undernourished, he or she will have an increased chance of experiencing specific health problems. For every additional case of child illness, both the health system and the families are faced with an additional economic cost.”


Related articles:

    Africa’s fragile states & why Ethiopia remains one of them

    Alongside higher agricultural yields, creeping hunger in Ethiopia challenges food security hopes

    The agricultural dilemma in Ethiopia: foreign farm investors trickling with the nation showing no signs of moving toward food security

    Growing population, weak institutions, poor governance & lack of food self-sufficiency: Ethiopia’s hindrances to a better future, despite economic growths

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