News / Africa

Ethiopia Reduces Food Rations as Prices Soar

Unusually poor rains in the Horn of Africa, compounded by a shortage of reserve food supplies, have forced Ethiopia to reduce the size of emergency rations to needy citizens. The sudden shortage of emergency supplies comes as over-the-counter food prices are soaring.

Ethiopia’s emergency relief agency and international aid groups were caught off guard by how quickly conditions deteriorated as rains failed over the past six months.

As recently as February, Ethiopia’s appeal to humanitarian agencies for food aid covered 2.8 million people, a sharp decline from recent years. But by April, as grazing lands dried up in pastoral areas over a wide swath of Eastern Africa, the appeal was revised to include an additional 400,000 Ethiopians.

This is on top of a separate supplementary feeding program that covers an additional 8 million people.

Fresh rains over the past week have helped, but a follow-up assessment now underway is expected to lead to a further increase.

The latest report from the U.S. government funded FEWSNET, or Famine Early Warning System Network, says food insecurity has reached the “moderate to extreme” stage in some regions. It warns that existing assistance programs will not be able to handle “expected food deficits and high malnutrition.”

The shortages are forcing Ethiopia to curtail distribution in all but the hardest-hit regions of two of the four items contained in a food basket designed to help families stave off malnutrition. As a third round of distribution begins, disaster relief agency spokesman Akloweg Nigatu says supplies of pulses (dry beans and peas) and high-nutrition Corn-Soya Blend are critically low.

"Now we [are] just distributing one-third less pulses for the third round, and we [are] not able to provide CSB, Corn-Soya Blend, because we are short of it, sorely depleted. But we are trying to get this limited resource by asking our partners," he said.

The United States and the U.N. World Food Program are among the main partners, or providers of nutritional assistance. But the WFP relief and refugee section chief in Ethiopia, Giammichele De Maio, says it can take months from the time an appeal is made until the food arrives.

"It usually takes an average lead-time of four, five months to get the food in the country, and that’s when we are actually able to distribute it to the beneficiaries. The latest request has come in April. There was a previous request in February, indeed several contributions are on their way, but still there are huge shortfalls in the relief pipeline currently," he said.

USAID director for Ethiopia Thomas Staal says the United States is working urgently on a project to produce Corn-Soya Blend in Ethiopia to meet domestic needs. In the meantime, he says a search is on for stocks of pulses that can be quickly purchased from other regions and moved to the Horn of Africa. "That we have to definitely import and we’re working with other donors to provide funding to WFP to import additional pulse. So we’re working with those donors, WFP and the government to see if we can’t move food around in the short term while in the longer term getting additional commodities," he said.

Agencies working in southern and southeastern Ethiopia say the drought has claimed the lives of countless thousands of livestock on which the region’s economy depends.

Aid workers say the effects of the drought have been made worse by steep increases in food costs worldwide. Ethiopia’s Central Statistics Agency this week reported a nearly 30 percent increase in the inflation rate in April from the previous year, driven mostly by a 32 percent jump in food prices.

You May Like

Captured IS Militants Explain Why They Fought

Fighters from Turkey, Syria tell VOA Kurdish Service what drew them to extremism, jihad More

Security Experts Split on Kenyan Barrier Wall

Experts divided on whether initiative aiming to keep out al-Shabab militants is long-awaited solution or misguided effort More

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Officials say they hope to turn Manila into the next Macau, which has long been Asia’s gambling hub More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More