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Ethiopia: An Ethiopian Solution to Costly Food Aid

UN Integrated Regional Information Networks
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UN Integrated Regional Information Networks
5 March 2008
Posted to the web 5 March 2008
As food prices hit record highs, analysts warn that a re-think of food aid strategies is needed – and Ethiopia, a traditionally food insecure country, could offer some answers.
Globally, the World Food Programme’s (WFP) operational budget for 2008 has now risen to $3.4 billion – “an increase of $500 billion to account for the increased price of food and transport alone,” said WFP spokesman Robin Lodge. “This budget is just to cover our current assessed needs, and leaves nothing for unforeseen emergencies or the huge number of people who are now falling into the hunger trap as a result of the rising prices.”
Food prices are expected to continue to rise for the forseeable future as a result of surging global demand and reduced cereal stocks, partly on account of biofuel. Edward Clay, senior research associate at the Overseas Development Institute, a UK-based think-tank, noted that the situation called for a major re-think of food aid.
“Globalisation now means that the poor everywhere are affected. There is a need to ask how to anticipate a potentially much more volatile world food economy and this may require different institutional arrangements,” he suggested. “How do we ensure that poor people and indeed poorer countries are not crowded out of world food markets?”
Resource pooling – regionally or nationally – was the future of food aid. Countries have to strengthen their disaster preparedness and become more self-reliant, as Ethiopia has developed its Disaster Preparedness and Prevention Agency and so has Bangladesh. The UN and other aid agencies can continue to provide them with support in developing capacity
Food aid agencies have limited options, but the answer lies perhaps in Ethiopia, said Marc Cohen, research fellow at the US-based International food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), and Shukri Ahmed, Senior Economist at the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO). “Ethiopia, which now has several million people in need of food assistance, has taken steps to emerge from aid dependency,” Ahmed commented.
Among these was attempting to differentiate between people facing chronic food insecurity – currently estimated at more than eight million – and people facing either transitory or acute food insecurity – estimated between one to two million. Such a classification lent itself to providing a better response to food insecurity and targeting increasingly scarce food aid resources more effectively.
As part of a federal Food Security Programme (FSP), Ethiopia’s Productive Safety Net Programme (PSNP) provides a combination of cash, farming inputs and food to the vulnerable and chronically food insecure, while the Emergency Food Security Reserve (EFSR) holds more than 400,000 metric tonnes of food available for aid agencies to borrow from in case of emergencies.

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March 6, 2008 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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