News / Africa

WFP: Ethiopia's Emergency Food Reserve Near Zero

Multimedia

Audio

The head of the U.N. World Food Program (WFP) in Ethiopia says the country's emergency food stocks are almost completely exhausted, with drought conditions expected to worsen before they improve.  There are also growing concerns about food shortages in Ethiopia's reclusive neighbor, Eritrea.

WFP's Ethiopia Country Director Abdou Dieng says despite a good response to international appeals for food aid, Ethiopia faces a critical shortfall in emergency supplies.  He says the reserve established by the government to prevent a recurrence of past food crises is almost empty.

"There is food reserve, but today it's almost at zero level. We cannot count on that. Now what we are trying to do is increase the level of the food which can be kept in the reserve.  We can go up to one million tons [and] we're talking about 80 million people here who need food, so this is exactly where we are working together to try to increase the food reserve," noted Dieng.

Of Ethiopia's 80 million people, Dieng says between 13 million and 14 million are receiving some sort of food assistance. The government estimates 4.5 million need emergency food aid, but experts expect that number to keep rising until the rains come, allowing farmers to plant and harvest life saving crops.

The WFP official says $200 million in donations has been received since the onset of the current drought. Dieng estimates another $100 million will be necessary to meet Ethiopia's needs until the end of the year.

Dieng also said the WFP is monitoring reports filtering out of Eritrea suggesting food shortages there as well.  The reports are hard to verify, and Eritrea's autocratic government has denied the drought is affecting food supplies.  But satellite images indicate the country is affected by the same weather pattern that has victimized much of the Horn of Africa.

Dieng says Eritrean refugees arriving at camps in northern Ethiopia are saying the Asmara, Eritrea, government tries to prevent them from leaving, and that conditions are deteriorating.

"All this is speculation," Dieng added.  "What we know is you can't have a drought in Ethiopia, Somalia, Kenya in a certain area and not having the same [nearby]. But what we heard from the government in Eritrea, they say there is no problem when it comes to food aid in Eritrea.  But for people crossing the border and coming into Ethiopia that we interview, we know there is some problem, and we are monitoring that very closely."

Assistant U.S. Secretary of State for Africa Johnnie Carson last month said many Eritrean refugees fleeing to Ethiopia are suffering from life-threatening malnutrition.  He urged officials in the Eritrean capital, Asmara, to cooperate with U.N. agencies and international organizations to address the issues of hunger and food shortages.

The WFP's Dieng estimates the number of Eritrean refugees at camps in northern Ethiopia at a few thousand.  That is nowhere near as large as the more than 150,000 Somali refugees in southern and eastern Ethiopia, and the even larger numbers in Kenya.

He says the U.N. agency technically maintains an office in Asmara, but has not had any international staff there since 2005, and is not able to monitor conditions in the nation of 5 million.

You May Like

Video One Year After Thai Coup, No End in Sight for Military Rule

Since carrying out the May 22, 2014 coup, the general has retired from the military but is still firmly in charge More

Goodbye, New York

This is what the fastest-growing big cities in America have in common More

Job-Seeking Bangladeshis Risk Lives to Find Work

The number of Bangladeshi migrants on smugglers’ boats bound for Southeast Asian countries has soared in the past two years 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.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs