Authors: Sereena Singh and Shuhan Hu
World Information Transfer UN Interns, fall 2011
- Ethiopia has been structurally food deficient since at least 1980. The food gap rose from 0.75 million tons in 1979/80 to 5 million tons in 1993/94, falling to 2.6 million tons in 1995/96 despite a record harvest (Befekadu and Berhanu 2000:176). Even in that year, 240,000 tons of food aid was delivered, suggesting that chronic food insecurity afflicts millions of Ethiopians in the absence of transitory production shocks. (Devereux)
- Structural adjustment programs implemented by the World Bank in the early 1990’s created the cornerstones for Ethiopia’s food insecurity. Debt relief program led to a decrease in food prices, which led to a shortage in food. The cycle of debt continued, as farmers could not pay back the subsidized loans for fertilizer and seeds. (Dejen)
- According to the government, 4.5 million people are in need of emergency food assistance. WFP is currently reaching 3.7 million people in Ethiopia with emergency food assistance, including 240,000 refugees. A further 3.4 million people are receiving assistance through non-emergency programmes. (WFP)
- Ethiopia remains one of the world’s least developed countries, ranked 157 out of 169 in the 2010 UNDP Human Development Index with agriculture as the foundation of the economy, employing 80 per cent of the country’s 82 million people. Some 84 per cent of the population lives in rural areas and is mainly engaged in rain-fed subsistence agriculture. (WFP)
- The famine of 2003 in Ethiopia was the worst famine since the mid-1980s. About one fifth of the population was left without food and tens of thousands of people died as a result of starvation and malnutrition.
- A possible repeat of the world-infamous Ethiopian famine of 1985, in which 1,000,000 people died from starvation caused panic and probed many organizations to immediately provide aid to Ethiopia. The prime minister of Ethiopia at the time, Meles Zenawi, admitted that the government was unable to provide relief for its people and that the economy was stagnating due to the failure of the harvest (due to the drought). He called for aid in order to prevent mass starvation. Many organizations provided relief, and the magnitude of the crisis was lessened to some extent. (Starvation in Ethiopia)
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