Ethiopia Requests Urgent Food Aid

The Ethiopian government has asked the international community for emergency food aid for 6.2 million people.

The request came at a meeting of donors to discuss the impact of a prolonged drought affecting parts of East Africa.

The UN's World Food Programme says $285m (£173m) will be needed in the next six months. Some aid officials say the numbers of hungry could rise.

...Ethiopia has been hit by the food crisis affecting a large part of East Africa and the Horn.

...The drought, brought on by four years of bad harvests, has been made worse by conflict, climate change and population growth.

BBC Africa analyst Martin Plaut says Ethiopian government policy banning land sales to keep people out of urban areas has also contributed.

All these other factors combined are at least as important as lack of rainfall, he says.

Fields of maize, burnt and withered by the sun, are the evidence of an emerging crisis, says the BBC's Mike Wooldridge in the Ethiopian town of Mekele.
In the longterm, Ethiopia needs "drought-resistant seeds and technical support to incorporate soil conservation and soil improvements on their small plots of land" and "more family planning services are needed so the population doesn't double again in another 25 years." The international director of Oxfam, Penny Lawrence, also notes: "If communities have irrigation for crops, grain stores, and wells to harvest rains then they can survive despite what the elements throw at them."

So, teaspoons can go in one of two directions (or both): In support of providing immediate food aid (Americans: urge your congresspeople!), and in support of providing long-term tools. If you have suggestions of specific organizations working in Ethiopia, please leave them in comments. As always, my favorite org is CARE.

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