Ethiopia-donors-UN agree 4.5 million Ethiopians now in need of food aid after poor rains; TPLF got lowest threshold

25 Aug

Editor’s Note:

    UN agencies and non-governmental organizations operating in Ethiopia know that this 4.5 million people in need of food aid figure is a heavily negotiated number. Otherwise, given the size of the areas affected by the drought, and especially agricultural lands in Gojam and Oromia facing drought and possible famine, the present number is very small.

    In addition, keep in mind that, with continuing international aid, the Productive Safety Net Program (PSNP) has been feeding people in several districts that have long exhausted their carrying capacity and that they are incapable of supporting the population.

    In a country that has 96 population, already in May 2015 FAO reported that 32 percent of Ethiopians are undernourished. FAO defines undernourishment as condition in which a citizen “is not able to acquire enough food to meet the daily minimum dietary energy requirements, over a period of one year.”

    By this metric, already before the worsening of the drought and decimation of livestock in Afar, and parts of Gojam, Oromia, SNNPR, it means that 31.6 million Ethiopians – about a third of the nation – has been suffering from hunger or chronic undernourishment.

    In the circumstances, the trouble is that the TPLF regime’s main preoccupation has been the hard-won image as a country of double-digit growths, even when there is little to eat for a third of the nation.

    One thing governments in Ethiopia have hated since the 1973 drought/hunger have been: both rain loss in a subsistent agricultural nation, and famine and any story about them.

    At present, the TPLF has done miracle on the propaganda front, as it has feverishly strived to escape the gruesome shadows of past droughts. This is understandable.

    What people could not tolerate is the the blatant lies that prevent both self-help and foreign food aid when people are starving! The man in the prime minister’s office told the diaspora, most of them regime’s ethnic loyalists, this time around donors have not pressed Ethiopia to receive aid. Donor thinking, according to the man, is to see if Ethiopia has managed to stand on its own feet! (Watch/listen here)

 

Posted by The Ethiopia Observatory (TEO)
by The Guardian

    While the poverty rate [in Ethiopia] fell from 39% to 26% between 2005 and 2013, nearly 20 million people live below the UN poverty threshold of $1.25 (£0.80) a day. The economy is expected to grow by 9.5% in the fiscal year to June, according to the World Bank, rising to 10.5% in 2015-16.
An Ethiopian man tries to save a calf affected by the drought. Failed rains in the country have had devastating consequences for food supplies. Credit: Sammy Seifu/Unocha via The Guardian)

An Ethiopian man tries to save a calf affected by the drought. Failed rains in the country have had devastating consequences for food supplies. Credit: Sammy Seifu/Unocha via The Guardian)

The number of Ethiopians who will need food aid by the end of this year has surged by more than 1.5 million from earlier estimates, according to United Nations agencies. After failed rains, some 4.5m people are now projected to require assistance, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (Ocha) , the World Food Programme and the UN children’s agency, Unicef, said.

This is an increase of 55% on initial projections of 2.9 million, and means donors must urgently provide an extra $230m to meet these needs.

Gillian Mellsop, Unicef representative and acting humanitarian coordinator, said donors had been generous but more was needed to prevent unnecessary human suffering. “The situation facing us today marks a significant change in our plans, requiring the scaling up of assistance, now,” she said.

Ethiopia is one of Africa’s fastest-growing economies, with nearly double-digit growth every year for the last decade, but failed rains have had devastating consequences for food supplies for its 96 million people.

“The belg rains were much worse than the National Meteorology Agency predicted at the beginning of the year. Food insecurity increased and malnutrition rose as a result,” said David Del Conte, Ocha’s acting head of office in Ethiopia, referring to the short rainy season that stretches from February to April.

Areas normally producing surplus food in the central Oromia region were also affected by shortages, and lack of water has affected livestock there and in other pastoralist areas, the agencies said.

In its August report on Ethiopia, the Famine Early Warning Systems Network (Fewsnet), said unusual livestock deaths and unseasonal migration were continuing and livestock prices and demand had fallen sharply. There was very little rain during the first three weeks of July, and the June-to-September rainfall was well below average in most eastern, central and southern crop-producing areas.

Dry conditions would be exacerbated by the start of the dry season in September and October, it added. “With continued high cereal prices, low livestock prices, and no expected increase in other income sources, poor households will be unable to purchase sufficient quantities of food and [will] have food consumption gaps. Acute malnutrition prevalence is likely to increase,” Fewsnet said.

Meteorologists have also warned that the El Niño weather phenomenon, marked by a warming of sea-surface temperatures in the Pacific Ocean, is now well established and continues to strengthen. Models indicate that sea-surface temperature anomalies in the central Pacific Ocean are set to climb to their highest in 19 years. El Niño can lead to scorching weather across Asia and east Africa, and heavy rains and floods in South America.

The UN cautioned that the anomaly could further affect Ethiopia’s kiremt rains, which stretch from June to September.

“A failed belg followed by a poor kiremt season means that challenges could continue into next year,” said John Aylieff, WFP’s Ethiopia representative.

Ethiopia is heavily dependent on agriculture, which accounts for almost half of its gross domestic product. Around three-quarters of its population are farmers, with many involved in subsistence farming, rain-fed farming or livestock production.

While the poverty rate fell from 39% to 26% between 2005 and 2013, nearly 20 million people live below the UN poverty threshold of $1.25 (£0.80) a day. The economy is expected to grow by 9.5% in the fiscal year to June, according to the World Bank, rising to 10.5% in 2015-16.
 

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