Ethiopia: Gov’t Dismiss Need for Food Aid

Photo:  Ben Parker/IRIN

Farmer sowing seed in the floodplain of the Cheffa Valley in Ethiopia’s Amahara region.

Government Communications Affairs Office (GCAO) says the country is self-reliant for any emergency food assistance in response to an impending drought season in large parts of Ethiopia.

Lack and severe shortage of rain has affected farmers and pastoralists in eastern, north eastern, part of central and rift valley region of the country. The drought has also caused loss of livestock in border towns of Afar and Somali regions.

Redwan Hussien, minister of GCAO, acknowledged the problem at a press conference to local media on Thursday but dismissed the need for international food assistance.

“We are able to feed ourselves and hence the magnitude of the problem has not been felt by the majority of the public including in areas affected by the shortage of rain,” Redwan said.

The rainfall disparity is linked to the recurring El Nino phenomenon, which has impacted the rain distribution in Ethiopia in a roughly ten year cycle.

“The country was flooded with food assistance during the same cycle in 1997 and 2005,” recalled Redwan. “This time, the government has been taking measures to provide assistance to people and animal.”

Redwan said the government has been providing food assistance to people affected by the phenomenon.

“We will continue to provide food assistance including fortified food supply to avert any human loss.” Redwan said.

The minister said the government has allocated 700 million birr for food assistance and other supports to further mitigate the impact.

The shortage of rain has affected agricultural production in parts of the country arousing fears of an escalation in food price. However, Redwan dispelled such fears.

“There is no sufficient reason for food price hikes because we do not anticipate severe damage in crop production,” Redwan said. “In any event of food shortage, we have adequate stockpile of crops to feed the gap.”

According to forecast by the National Meteorological Agency, the rain condition is forecasted to improve this month in most affected areas. Ethiopia has a three months rainy season that begins in mid June. Due to the El Nino effect, the country experienced severe lack of rain during the month of July.

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