Out of the USD 950 million required, government has allocated one billion birr
The reoccurrence of the drought that mostly affected pastoralist areas has led 5.6 million people to seek emergency food assistance at a time competition for external resources have become intensely difficult for the government, Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn said while addressing members of the House of Peoples Representatives (HPR) on Thursday.
Hailemariam said rainfall failure during the summer season in lowland areas has been coupled with last year’s El Niño induced drought – the effect of which still remains to be felt in the country. The six months report the prime minister read to parliament shows that the country is in need of food items that are worth USD 598 million and USD 350 million for nonfood items to tackle the drought. For that the government has put aside some one billion birr from the federal reserves, Hailemariam said. However, the assistance coming from the international community seems to have frozen as crisis in the Middle East, West Africa and the neighboring countries are gabbing the attention and the resources, he said.
In an exclusive interview with The Reporter, Idris Hussein, director of logistics and supplies at the National Disaster Risk Management Commission dichotomized the financial requirements into actual supplies requirements. Hence, an aggregate of 920,000 metric tons of food that includes 745 metric tons of gains, 74,400 metric tons of pulses, 22,320 metric tons of edible oil and 78,150 metric tons of supplementary foods are required to curb the impacts of the drought in the country.
The shift of focus of the international community to other manmade and natural disasters has stricken many nations. This has left the country to stand on its own except a handful of interventions channeled from the World Food Program (WFP) and the a few more have been active since last year, Idris said. Last year’s drought exposed 10.3 million people for food assistance and much of the effects are still unfolding.
Currently, some 20 million people are seeking emergency assistances in the Eastern Africa region where Somalia and South Sudan have declared famine. Kenya has issued a state of emergency in half of the counties affected by drought. The extent of the drought and the reemergence of famine has become extensively devastating compared to the 2011 crisis where most of these countries were affected. Back then, the African Union is remembered for launching a pledging conference pursuing USD one billion to assist some 14 million victims. That pledge, however, ended up short of target, generating a little over 100 million dollars. To date, the continental organization is silent on such matters that require immediate concerns as dire conditions are increasingly affecting millions in the east African region.