Ethiopia Tries to Avert Another Famine

The government says that 8.2m people (around 8% of Ethiopia’s population) have been affected by drought.

The Economist

Nov 2nd 2015

NORTH WOLLO — JUMPING a fence of prickly pears, Gumat Hussain, a local chief in the driest district of North Wollo, Ethiopia’s most drought-prone province, walks gloomily through his sorghum. “The crops have not produced grain. They are useless even for the animals,” he sighs. “My oxen and goats will soon die. Our people will wait only for the government to respond.”

In many lowland parts of North Wollo, a day’s drive north of Addis Ababa, the capital, the annual midsummer rains lasted for under a week. This was because of a particularly strong El Niño effect, which this year made swathes of Africa drier than usual, along with a longer-term drying of Ethiopia’s climate, especially in the north and east. Now it is harvest time and the tall, green crops belie their fruitlessness.

Ethiopian officials say that this failed harvest is as bad as the catastrophic droughts that befell Ethiopia in 1965-66, 1972-73 and 1984-85, killing more than 1m people in all. But a sophisticated food-security system means that poor Ethiopians these days can cope much better with drought than before.

“Many, many people died in the past. But we now have early-warning systems and programmes to mobilise grain from areas of surplus to areas of scarcity,” says Mohammed Yasin, head of Disaster Prevention and Food Security in North Wollo, a province whose name was once synonymous with famine. “We will avoid this problem without evacuating areas.”

Read more at The Economist »

Worrying aid shortages as malnutrition hits record high in Ethiopia (Reuters)
El Niño Strikes Ethiopia (NY Times)
Ethiopia, a Nation of Farmers, Strains Under Severe Drought (The New York Times)
Ethiopia’s Government Makes International Appeal for Food Aid After Poor Harvests (AP)
Ethiopian drought threatens growth as cattle die, crops fail (Bloomberg)
Drought Hits Millions in Ethiopia (Radio France International)
Sharp rise in hungry Ethiopians needing aid: UN (AFP)
Ethiopia: Need for Food Aid Surges (Reuters)
The Cause of Ethiopia’s Recurrent Famine: Is it Drought or Authoritarianism? (The Huffington Post)

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