US aid agency sends emergency food supplies to Ethiopia

12 Nov 15

American development agency USAID announced $97m in additional emergency food assistance for those vulnerable to the effects of El Niño in Ethiopia on Tuesday.

The El Niño weather phenomenon has had a significant impact on the east African country, causing severe drought that has driven the number of people in need of emergency food assistance up to 8.2 million.

Dina Esposito, director of USAID’s Office of Food for Peace, said: “Given that we are witnessing the direst conditions ever recorded in parts of Ethiopia, the magnitude of need will require far more robust support globally than what has currently been pledged.

“With these early contributions we aim to demonstrate the US’s deep concern over rapidly expanding relief requirements and send a signal to other donors to respond generously as well.”

The continued lack of rainfall caused by El Niño after failed spring rains has wreaked havoc on Ethiopia’s agricultural production and exacerbated food insecurity for the most vulnerable in particular.

The projected level of need for emergency aid had almost doubled in August compared to the 2.9 billion at the start of the year, and doubled again between August and October.

Esposito said improved early warning systems tracking the impacts of El Niño across the Horn of Africa and the engagement of the Ethiopian government meant levels of famine witnessed in earlier decades are unlikely to recur.

This recurrence of El Niño, one of the strongest ever recorded, will cause both drought and floods in the country, as well as across Africa and Asia.

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