News / Africa

Ethiopia Says 2.8 Million People Need Emergency Food Aid

Ethiopian child Bizunesh Hidana 3-year-old weighing less than 10 pounds (four kilograms) is seen at an emergency feeding center in southern Ethiopia (File Photo).
Ethiopian child Bizunesh Hidana 3-year-old weighing less than 10 pounds (four kilograms) is seen at an emergency feeding center in southern Ethiopia (File Photo).

Ethiopia’s government estimates 2.8 million people will need emergency food aid this year, down sharply from a year ago. Nearly 40 percent of the needy are reported in the sparsely populated, but insurgency-wracked Somali region.

The good news is that the number of Ethiopians in danger has dropped from 5.2 million a year ago to an estimated 2.8 million this year.

Ethiopia’s State Minister for Agriculture Mitiku Kassa credits two things for the improvement.  One is good weather, which produced a bumper crop in a country where four out of five people earn their living from agriculture.  The other is food aid, which is believed to have reached 12 million of Ethiopia’s 80 million people last year.

But there are worrisome signs. Sitting alongside Mitiku at a news conference, U.N. Humanitarian Coordinator for Ethiopia Eugene Owusu said the 2.8-million figure tells only part of the story.

"Two-point-eight-million still require relief food assistance," said Owusu. "And we also know an additional 956,000 require targeted supplementary feeding. An estimated 107,000 children may continue to require treatment for severe acute malnutrition, and 3.3 million people will require screening for more nutrition and Vitamin A supplementation."

Another 7.8-million Ethiopians receive food or cash under a preventive program known as the Productive Safety Net.

Owusu said millions of Ethiopians are also at risk of malaria, measles and Acute Watery Diarrhea, which in other places in known as cholera. And he said the onset of a drought in some regions, which forced officials to revise their estimates upward in recent months, is likely to continue.

"Deteriorating food security conditions recorded in the December assessment will only deepen if the drought prevails through the first half of the year, as the latest forecast of the National Meteorological Agency indicates it is likely to do," he added.

The government report indicates almost 40 percent of those nutritionally at risk are in the Somali region, home to less than six percent of the country’s population. Ethiopian troops are engaged in a counter-insurgency operation there against indigenous rebels of the Ogaden National Liberation Force.

The group, in e-mail messages, has accused the government of ethnic cleansing and blocking food aid deliveries to rebel-held areas.  The government strongly denies the claims and says the rebel movement is dying, but restricts access to donor groups trying to monitor aid distribution.

State Minister Mitiku says the area of restricted movement includes only a few districts, known as woredas.

"Currently there are only nine woredas that need clearance from the respective authorities to move in these zones," said Mitiku. "The rest, 43 out of 52 are free for movements by the U.N. agencies [and] the NGO agencies who are working in the Somali region."

But aid community representatives are pushing for greater access to the insurgency zone.  U.N. aid coordinator Owusu says local officials often block access to humanitarian workers even in a usually quiet woreda.

"There are instances of localized restrictions, depending on the mood of local officials," said Owusu. "The major restrictions are largely in those high security risk woredas, but my point of departure with the minister would be, even in the other woredas, there are instances of localized restrictions that might not be as stringent as what we experience in the nine high security risk woredas."

The head of the British government’s Department for International Development office in Ethiopia, Howard Taylor,  says aid agencies are often frustrated in attempts to ensure food is reaching the intended recipients.

"It gets better and it gets worse," said Taylor. "It is not a constant. Sometimes the food is getting through and sometimes we know it is not."

Taylor and humanitarian coordinator Owusu say while monitoring aid deliveries is easier than in past years, they are pushing for more fruitful discussions with security authorities to find a way donors can be certain people who need food and water in the insurgency zone are able to get it.

You May Like

US, Brazil's Climate-Change Plan: More Renewables, Less Deforestation

update Officials say joint initiative on climate change will allow Brazil, United States to strengthen and accelerate cooperation on issues ranging from land use to clean energy More

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Reporting from Somali capital for past decade, Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal has been working at one of Mogadishu's leading radio stations covering parliament More

After Nearly a Century, Voodoo Opera Rises Again

Opera centers on character named Lolo, a Louisiana plantation worker and Voodoo priestess 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.
Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishui
X
Abdulaziz Billow
June 30, 2015 2:16 PM
Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video US Gay Marriage Ruling Yields Real-life Impact

Friday’s landmark Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage throughout the United States is an outcome few thought possible just years ago, and shows a nation that increasingly tolerates and even celebrates the hopes and aspirations of gay people. VOA’s Michael Bowman spoke to a same-sex couple that will benefit from the high court ruling, and to a Christian scholar who is apprehensive about its potential consequences for America’s faith community.
Video

Video Syrians Flee IS Advance in Hasaka

The Syrian government said Monday it has taken back one of several districts in Hasaka overrun by Islamic State militants. But continued fighting elsewhere in the northern city has forced thousands of civilians from their homes. In this report narrated by Bill Rodgers, VOA Kurdish Service reporter Zana Omer describes the scene in Amouda, where some of the displaced are taking refuge.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video S. Korea Christians Protest Gay Rights Festival

The U.S. Supreme Court decision mandating marriage equality nationwide has energized gay rights supporters around the world. Gay rights remain a highly contentious issue in a key U.S. ally, South Korea, where police did a deft job Sunday of preventing potential clashes between Christian protesters and gay activists. Kurt Achin reports from Seoul.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Nubians in Kenya Face Land Challenges

East Africa's ethnic Nubians have a rich cultural history that dates back thousands of years, but in Kenya they are facing hardships, including the loss of lands they have lived on for generations. They say the government has reneged on its pledge to award them title deeds for the plots. VOA's Lenny Ruvaga reports.
Video

Video Syrian Refugees Return to Tal Abyad

Syrian refugees in Turkey confirm they left their hometown of Tal Abyad because of intense fighting and coalition airstrikes, not because Kurdish fighters were engaged in ethnic cleansing, as some Turkish officials charged. VOA Kurdish Service reporter Zana Omer, in Tal Abyad, finds that civilians coming back to the town agree, as we hear in this report narrated by Roger Wilkison.
Video

Video Military Experts Question New Russian Tank Capabilities

Russia has been showing off its new tank design – the Armata T-14. Designers claim it is 20 years ahead of current Western designs - and driving it feels like playing a computer game. But military analysts question those assertions, and warn the cost could be too heavy a burden for Russia’s struggling economy. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.
Video

Video In Syrian Crisis, Social Media Offer Small Comforts

Za’atari, a makeshift city in Jordan, may be the only Syrian refugee camp to tweet its activities, in an effort to keep donors motivated as the war in Syria intensifies and the humanitarian crisis deepens. Inside the camp, families say mobile phone applications help hold together families that are physically torn apart. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.

VOA Blogs