Ethiopia: $265 million needed for worsening drought

From the AP:

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (AP) — An Ethiopian minister says his country urgently needs US$265 million to feed 6.4 million people affected by drought.

State Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Mitiku Kassa says Ethiopia needs US$225.9 million to buy food through December. The rest of the money is needed to buy seeds, provide training and toilets, among other things, says Mitiku.

The minister disputes a figure the U.N. food agency released in September stating 9.6 million people are affected by the drought.

Mitiku says experts believe November’s harvest will be plentiful and put an end to the crisis.

Agriculture is Ethiopia’s main economic activity. The country has a long and troubled history with drought and hunger.

ADDING: A story in the African Monitor expands on this report:

The minister… has calculated the number of beneficiaries requiring relief food assistance to be 4.6 million (which previously was 2.2 million), the majority of whom being in Somali, Oromiya, and the SNNP regions together amounting to 76 percent.

The state minister attributed the escalating number of the needy to the failure of the Belg seasonal rains in many parts of these areas “compounded by the global increase in food items”, adding that the global competition for aid resources are boosting while “resources are becoming more and more scarce” although humanitarian did not cease to be delivered.

It has been troubling watching the government of Meles Zenawi, over the past several months, downplay the severity of the food shortage – presumably to protect its image.  Hopefully the government will now confront this crisis head on.

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