Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Despite good rains many remain hungry in Ethiopia

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia, July 19, 2005 (PANA) -- Despite the markedly eased food insecurity trends in Ethiopia, many at-risk pastoralists and vulnerable subsistent peasants would require food assistance until the end of the year, according to local and UN agencies monitoring the situation.

Improved rainfall, increased food distributions and non-food aid pledges over the past months have helped ease extreme conditions, the agencies said in their latest Food Security Update on Ethiopia.

According to a pre-harvest preliminary assessment, based on the current rainy season, the number of people in need of emergency assistance may increase by between 2.5 and 3 million in the second half of 2005.

"While this will not change the peak number of 3.8 million emergency beneficiaries that was estimated in May, it does mean that these people will need to continue receiving food aid for a longer period of time than originally estimated," explains the multi-agency assessment report.

Additional beneficiaries would translate into an estimated additional emergency food aid requirement of close to 200,000 tonnes.

The whole food aid pipeline and emergency food security reserves appear to be sufficient till the end of the year.

However, irregular and delayed distributions were likely to result in serious nutritional consequences, especially in drought and flood affected areas in Southern Nations, Nationalities and People's Region (SNNPR) and in the pastoral regions of Somali and Afar.

The agencies have urged the government and donors to ensure that pledged resources are delivered in a timely and well-targeted way to highly food insecure households.

According to the multi-agency pre-harvest assessment, conducted between 23 June and 6 July 2005, the season was generally good, despite excessive rains in some areas and erratic and late rains in others.

"Despite the relatively good 'belg' rainy season, humanitarian assistance will continue to be necessary in a number of areas throughout the country during the remainder of the year," says the report.

This is attributed to, among other factors, inability to recover from the previous season's poor pasture and water availability in pastoral areas, under-utilisation of inputs (due to price increases), high malnutrition rates compounded by inadequate public health services and ethnic-based conflicts in southern Oromiya and Afar regions.

Water shortages and inadequate public health services, especially in pastoral areas, have exacerbated the crisis.

In general, Ethiopia's food and non-food aid needs are expected to remain at their peak levels from July through September.

20 year old Brett Thalman who authors Canadian Liberal @ Penn and lives in Philadelphia, USA is a junior (3rd year) at the University of Pennsylvania studying Political Science and business at The Wharton School.

He is an active Young Liberal both federally and provincially in Ontario and describes himself as "a proud Canadian Liberal's perspective on Canadian Politics, Ontario Politics and an outsider's perspective on American Politics.."


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