Sunday, October 12, 2008

Grim food situation in Ethiopia

Aid agencies are estimating, according to the BBC, that as many as 8 million people in Ethiopia may be affected by the severe drought in the country; adding to that figure the 7 million who are always short of adequate food makes for nearly 20 percent of the population.

"Oxfam has just released a fresh appeal. It says the aid required is $260m short of its target.

But figures produced by the United Nations office for the co-ordination of humanitarian affairs show that $772m has already been pledged, the vast majority from the U.S., which has nearly trebled its aid to Ethiopia this year."

Ethiopia is a U.S. ally in the current geopolitical troubles in the Horn of Africa, which gives the U.S. multiple motives for trying to ensure that the current food situation in Ethiopia does not become a widespread famine of the kind that has afflicted the country more than once in the past. (Ideally, of course, humanitarian motives alone should be sufficient, but two motives are usually more effective than one.)


Jake Liscow said...

To the degree which the world is aware of the sustenance problems in Ethiopia, it's kind of saddening that no international effort has been coordinated to really address famine there with a permanent solution. Not that I know what needs to be done to stop drought and general scarcity, but someone must, right?

LFC said...

I certainly hope someone does.

I don't know enough about the specific conditions in Ethiopia to describe a permanent solution, but the problem seems to be a combination of (1) periodic drought (endemic to the whole region, not just Ethiopia) plus (2) a chronic level of malnutrition caused largely by poverty (again, not unique to Ethiopia) that doesn't capture attention the way famine does, but kills more people on a constant daily, yearly basis. Number (1) may not be easily solvable, but number (2) is, assuming govts. (in rich and poor countries) and publics had the necessary political will. So far, they haven't had it.