Added push factors for Ethiopians escaping death to flee their nation: drought, thirst, hunger & human rights violations; food & water distribution depends on politics & luck – even local media report

20 Jan

By Keffyalew Gebremedhin – The Ethiopia Observatory (TEO)

In a December 19, 2015 article, which took Dawit Taye, a staff writer for The Reporter, 18 days and 7,000km into some of the heartlands of Ethiopia’s present drought – Oromia, SNNPR, Amhara and Tigray – wrote:

    “Nevertheless, the distribution of food aid is highly problematic according to The Reporter’s observation. Primarily food aid distribution is santy at best. According to conditions on the ground, the people who are currently receiving food aid are those who have been severely affected by food shortage. Those who have household resources and capacity to withstand for some time have received no food aid, so far.

    Yet again, those receiving the food aid are not even receiving more than 15 kilos of wheat; and since September in most of the woredas [districts] only two rounds of distributions were made (a measurement in par with the international standards). In connection with food aid distribution the issue of nepotism and political connection is criticized to be a major shortcoming; and to that end regional officials have confirmed such incidents and punishment of aid officials implicated in such dealings.”


Among the hard hit regions are to be found Afar and Ogaden, into which the reporters were not allowed visits. We know that for more than about a decade now the Ogaden has been off limit to non-military and non-security persons. However, it is not clear why the reporters were not allowed to visit Afar, the region which spilled the TPLF secret about the current drought at its initial days – when it was fervently in denial in April/May 2015 about existence of drought in the country, despite Fews.net early warnings coming as they did in the autumn of 2014.
 

FAO reports:

    “…[C]rop production in Ethiopia has dropped by 50 to 90 per cent in some regions and failed completely in the east. The drought resulted in the loss of hundreds of thousands of livestock. According to the latest assessments, access to pasture and water will continue to deteriorate until the start of the next rainy season in March. As a result, experts anticipate that livestock will become leaner, sicker and produce less milk and many more will die.

    Crop reserves are severely depleted, leaving farmers vulnerable without means of production for the upcoming planting season that starts in March — in many cases, farmers lost valuable seeds through recurrent crop failures, planting time and time again in the hopes of rains that never came.

    As a result, malnutrition rates have soared and the number of admissions for severe acute malnutrition among children is now the highest ever reported. “

Regarding crops, as usual, the claim by the FAO about 50 to 90 percent loss is contradicted by the January 14, 2016 response of the propagandist TPLF regime. It claims, of the 14 million hectares under crops in the present farming season, 85 percent of the harvests has been gathered!

Moreover, even in the midst of the drought situation, the habitual TPLF bad governance has not been showing signs of lessening. At a time, when the people were clamoring for food and water, in a situation local reporters explain is heart rending, the TPLF regime has been telling the media that there is more than 11,000 me/t of food in the country and it’s awaiting another 11,000 m/t to arrive shortly.

This talk by international organizations about a worsening hunger and people not getting food, says Mitiku Kassa, the head of Disaster Prevention and Preparedness Agency (DPPA), is ploy to raise money for their own use at Ethiopia’s expense.

UNICEF points out the primary victims are Ethiopian children. “An estimated 435,000 children are in need of treatment for severe acute malnutrition (SAM), and more than 1.7 million children, pregnant and lactating women with moderate acute malnutrition (MAM) will require supplementary feeding.” This speaks just for the period November – December 2015.
 

ETHIOPIA – The strongest El Niño weather episode in the last several decades has caused repeated crop failure, decimated livestock herds and driven some 10.2 million people across Ethiopia into food insecurity, the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).

“The outlook for 2016 is very grim,” said Amadou Allahoury, FAO Representative for Ethiopia, adding that “after two consecutive seasons of failed crops, the success of the main cropping season that starts now will be critical to preventing conditions from worsening.”

    “Continued drought throughout the beginning of 2016 also means pasture will become even more scarce, which will negatively impact livestock keepers that rely on those grazing lands and water points for their food security,” he said.

    “Food overall will become harder to access if we continue to see prices rise, food stocks deplete and livestock become weaker, less productive, and perish.”

    The El Niño phenomenon is associated with the abnormal warming of sea surface temperature in parts of the Pacific Ocean that has severe effects on global weather and climate patterns — leading to reduced rainfall and drought in some regions and heavy rains and flooding in others.

    Under the current El Niño, crop production in Ethiopia has dropped by 50 to 90 per cent in some regions and failed completely in the east. The drought resulted in the loss of hundreds of thousands of livestock.

    According to the latest assessments, access to pasture and water will continue to deteriorate until the start of the next rainy season in March. As a result, experts anticipate that livestock will become leaner, sicker and produce less milk and many more will die.

    Crop reserves are severely depleted, leaving farmers vulnerable without means of production for the upcoming planting season that starts in March — in many cases, farmers lost valuable seeds through recurrent crop failures, planting time and time again in the hopes of rains that never came.

    As a result, malnutrition rates have soared and the number of admissions for severe acute malnutrition among children is now the highest ever reported.

Response plan

    The new FAO response plan aims to assist 1.8 million farmers and livestock keepers in 2016 to reduce food gaps and restore agricultural production and incomes.

    The first critical phase of the $50 million will focus on the meher season between January and June.

    FAO plans to help 131,500 households plant with a focus on the meher season. This intervention will include a mix of emergency seed distribution, small-scale irrigation projects, and backyard gardening initiatives targeted at empowering women’s groups with tools, knowledge and access to micro loans.

    As the current drought has not only affected smallholder farmers but also seed producers, it has aggravated already existing seed shortages across the country and made it even harder for farmers to plant. For this reason, FAO is also supporting 10,000 seed producers to produce high-quality seeds and get the local market for seeds back on its feet.

    Another 293,000 households will benefit from livestock interventions, such as the distribution of emergency animal feed, vaccination drives to protect some 3 million animals against disease, and restocking of 100,000 goats and sheep to vulnerable households.

    As many animals have been severely weakened by lack of food and water, FAO will also implement a cash-for-livestock exchange that will reimburse farmers for bringing unproductive livestock to slaughter and support community feed production.

    A third leg of the response plan will focus on strengthening livelihoods of more than 30,000 households and build their resilience to future shocks. This will include cash-for-work programs that will boost families’ incomes and improve critical local infrastructure and water access for livestock.

    This part of the plan will also target farmers’ and women’s groups through integrated community projects that support community savings-and-loan schemes, farmer field schools and other methods to help families accumulate and diversify assets.

Rebuilding now

    By focusing specifically on rebuilding the productive capacity of farming and pastoralist families, FAO is supporting ongoing efforts by the Government of Ethiopia, other UN agencies and NGO partners that are tending to the immediate needs of at-risk families.

    “In Ethiopia, El Niño is not just a food crisis — it’s above all a livelihood crisis. And we need to intervene now to protect and rebuild these livelihoods and people’s capacity to produce, to prevent families from becoming long-term dependent on food aid,” said Dominique Burgeon, Leader of FAO’s Strategic Programme on Resilience and Director of FAO’s Emergencies and Rehabilitation Division.

    FAO’s appeal for $50 million to protect Ethiopian livelihoods comes at a time when international donor funds are stretched thin in light of a multitude of major human-induced crises.

    But intervention to secure farming livelihoods now is the best way to help the country bounce back and prevent a further slide into chronic food insecurity, according to Burgeon.

    “If response is delayed, recovery will be difficult and the cost of interventions will only increase,” he stressed.

Responding to El Niño globally

Elsewhere on the African continent, El Niño has lowered crop prospects in southern Africa and many countries in the region are taking measures. South Africa has already declared drought status for five provinces, its main cereal producing regions, while Lesotho has issued a drought mitigation plan and Swaziland has implemented water restrictions as reservoir levels have become low.

To address the El Niño phenomenon globally, FAO is implementing response plans in 20 high-priority countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, and the South Pacific, including Ethiopia. Another 21 countries are being monitored closely.

/TheCattleSite News Desk
 

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