International partners may be under severe restrictions in dealing with Ethiopia’s drought situation

29 Dec

By Keffyalew Gebremedhin – The Ethiopia Observatory (TEO)

The TPLF regime has started to distribute 9,692 metric tons of food ration to 10.2 million drought victims, which is a government figure, as insisted upon by its National Disaster Risk Management Coordination Commission (NDRMCC), because of which to the satisfaction of Addis Abeba officials for a while there has not been any reference by the United Nations of the drought’s impact affecting 15-16 million people.

While the food being distributed in this seventh round is somewhat a scaled up number, despite the regime’s claims that no one has fallen by the roadside because of hunger, a team of journalists, which recently visited drought stricken areas – not all of them though – hit 7000km in 18 days and reported this as “the worst drought that the country has ever experienced in its history.”

The Reporter approached the story in two different ways.

The first one is headlined: Shocking revelations. It is after journalist Dawit Taye was present in parliament about a week ago, when it discussed the drought situation, based on reports by a committee tasked to undertake field visits and made its assessments in a detailed report.

The Reporter gave readers hint of the discussion how messy and shocking the situation of food distribution has been. Parliament also picked up that as a challenge and called for improvement. Taking most criticisms was the absence/shortage of drinking water in all affected areas and not satisfactory efforts made to alleviate it. There is also the shortage of medicines.

Most troubling for parliamentarians reportedly is the “poor coordination in some woredas and kebeles and shortage of animal feeds”, as if the TPLF regime is new to this.

Moreover, another shocking report that was before the parliamentary special committee is the existence of discrimination in food rationing, based on political considerations, according to The Reporter.

The strange thing about this allegation now is the expression of shocks, as if this has not been typical manifestation and characteristic of the TPLF regime.

In the past, it would be recalled, those that did not vote for the TPLF were refused aid, including food aid, improved seeds and other agricultural inputs and their farmlands were seized.

When the international media reported this at the time, at some point foreign ‘investigative journalists’ were involved and other sources also tried to highlight the problem. The Economist described the situation with a pricking title: When feeding the hungry is political.

The point is that it did not matter who reported what, since the practice has continued to this day!

The so-called Development Assistance Group (DAG) – a body of Addis Abeba resident ambassadors/diplomats – must now take responsibility for this inhuman practice, which then threw water on the story. The field mission some DAG members undertook were persuaded by the USAID and DFID’s counsel otherwise.

The mission report announced that the claim was false and unconscionable, although now this latest story is bringing out to light what has been a well-entrenched habit of the regime that it and its donors keep on trying to bury it under the carpet.

In fact, in 2015 Ethiopia’s most muffled media reported on it. It has been the practice months before the election and for at least two months after the election. Because of such practices, some farmers lost their plots, because they did not vote for the ruling party. Some houses were burnt and election monitors from the opposition parties and their members have been beaten; in SNNPR their children were expelled from schools. Some business people have been denied of their licenses.

In in the drought situation, the most shocking to The Ethiopia Observatory (TEO) is the use of ballots to distribute food to drought victims – aggravating the situation of helpless people through local officials’ corruption, nepotism to which now is added balloting, as if hunger could be defeated or how those that become unlucky would feel.

The second discussion on The Reporter was titled The Horror of Drought. Journalist Dawit Taye’s conclusion agrees with the United Nations: This is the worst drought the country could face.

Comparing it with the 1984 drought, Dawit quotes official data that in 1984 not more than five million people were affected. Of the country’s districts, 189 have been severely hit, while additional 90 districts are mildly affected, bringing the total to 279 administrative woredas and their inhabitants.

How is Ethiopia to think more to the well being of its people on long term basis to withstand drought. I doubt it this is possible under the TPLF regime, which is more preoccupied in a beauty contest, its ‘image, being its fetish!

Anyways, since its desire to play down the drought has gone to far, it is likely to become a loser on all fronts, and along with it the Ethiopian people!

To show the magnitude of the drought situation, it appears that the United Nations is informing the regime that it should pay attention that its real problem is ahead of it. In its latest report, OCHA pointed out that El Niño is continuing to strengthen with the sea surface temperature (SST) in the central and eastern Pacific Ocean registering +2.9 degree Celsius above normal as of 21 December, up from +2.8 degree Celsius on 14 December and from +2.7 degree Celsius three weeks ago.

Accordingly, it warns, “Failing to address MAM [Moderate and Acute Malnutrition] cases will cause spikes in SAM [severe acute malnutrition] cases, leading to more human suffering and costlier intervention months down the line.”

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