Home | News    Thursday 22 October 2015

Millions may require food aid over poor rains in Ethiopia


October 21, 2015 (ADDIS ABABA) - The Ethiopian government official acknowledged on Thursday reports alleging the numbers of Ethiopians who are in need of urgent food aid might have surged to an estimated 8 million, more than double from earlier estimates.

A WFP helicopter working in refugee camps in Ethiopia’s Somali Region (Photo courtesy of the WFP)

The food insecurity in large parts of the country has been attributed to the failed rains that have hugely affected food productivity.

Poor rains have also led to a drop off in livestock production and caused livestock deaths, forcing tens of thousands in many pastoralist areas to rely in food provided aid.

In an interview with the state-run EBC television, Ethiopian Prime Minister, Hailemarim Desalegn, has given details of the government’s response to the impact of the drought.

The Premier noted that the cause of the drought was not man-made, but caused as result of global climatic change and the impact of the El-Nino weather phenomenon.

He underscored that the world was be facing a very real threat of climate change, directly and indirectly placing a great burden on many sub-Saharan countries, including Ethiopia.

Meteorologists have warned that one of the strongest El Nino weather phenomenon marked by a warming of sea-surface temperatures in the Pacific Ocean would pummel in the East African region.

The weather experts said the El Nino could lead to scorching weather across Asia and east Africa, but heavy rains and floods in South America.

According to Ethiopian officials, the horn of Africa’s nation has been aware of the problem and the country had been putting in place preparedness measures to battle the impacts and consequences of the El Nino phenomenon.

The government had been preparing food and water as well as animal fodder to supply to those areas foreseen to be affected.

"The government has so far spent some two billion birr ($ 96 million) on relief and support”, said the Ethiopian prime minister in reference to the affected population.

He said government would continue to supply the necessary humanitarian assistance.

At least 8 million Ethiopians will need food aid for the next few months, recent statistics show.

In its August report on Ethiopia, the Famine Early Warning Systems Network said poor rainfall has hugely affected crop-producing areas during the first three weeks of July.

Below average rain falls were also recorded during the June to September rainy season in most eastern, central and southern crop-producing areas causing unusual livestock deaths and unseasonal migration. This forced a fall in livestock prices and demand.

“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” the report warned.

Ethiopia’s economy is heavily dependent on agriculture, which accounts for 43% of the GDP and 90% of the country’s exports. Around three-quarters of its population are farmers depending mainly on farming or livestock production as their core livelihood.

Ethiopia which intends to join middle income countries by 2025 has been growing its economy by an average 10.5% in the past ten years and managed to reduce poverty rate to 26% in 2013 from 39% in 2005.

However, some 20 million people still live below the United Nations poverty threshold of $1.25.


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