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WFP increased Budget for Ethiopia by USD 131 million

By Aseffa Abreha  11-19-15

The Executive Board of the United Nations World Food Programme increased an earlier budget by USD 131 million on 11 November 2015, during its 2nd Regular Session in Rome.

During the Annual Session in May 2015, the Executive Board approved Protracted Relief and Recovery Operations (PRRO-Ethiopia 200712) which aimed at:

i)                Providing short-term food assistance to vulnerable households in periods of acute emergency stress, and addressing moderate acute malnutrition among children under 5 and pregnant and lactating women;

ii)              Supporting the Government’s Productive Safety Net Programme (PSNP), including through the phased transition to long-term relief beneficiaries to PSNP 4; and

iii)            Preventing chronic malnutrition among children under 2 and pregnant and lactating women.

The duration of the PRRO – Ethiopia 200712 is from July 2015 to June 2018; with a total amount of USD 1,039,224,251.  The latest increase to this budget is USD 131,097,570; and the total now becomes USD 1,170,321,821.

Since May, assessments made jointly with Government and the humanitarian community showed that the onset of El Nino has caused severe blow to agricultural production and aggravated shortage of water and feed for animals in some parts of Ethiopia.  The belg rains have totally failed in the belg producing areas; while the meher rains have been erratic and insufficient in many parts of the country.  The El Nino forecast for 2015 is expected to be one of the strongest on record, and experts consider being the worst drought to have struck Ethiopia for many years.

In the last big drought of 2010-11 in the Horn of Africa, Ethiopia came out unscathed because of the systems it had in place such as early warning systems, disaster risk management system, the Productive Safety Net Programme (PSNP), and committed and prepared political leadership.  Ethiopia has all this and more this time around.

The Government has developed a comprehensive national disaster management policy and the required legislation to support it; namely, the creation of Disaster Prevention and Preparedness Commission.  Ethiopia has, thus, an integrated national disaster management structure which contains:

- Emergency Food security Reserve Administration;

- The National Disaster Prevention and Preparedness Fund;

- The National Early Warning Committee; and

- The Crisis Management Group.

Equipped in such a way, the Government is doing its level best to see that no life is lost during this El Nino caused drought crisis.  Starting months ago, the Government positioned food from the national reserve in places that are affected by the El Nino.  In order not to destabilize the local markets, Government arranged to purchase 600,000 tons of wheat from international market, and the shipment of over 200,000 tons has already arrived in Djibouti.  An additional 400,000 tons has been ordered.  So far, the Government has allocated 6 billion birr.

Prime Minister Haile Mariam Desalegn and other senior government officials both from the Federal Government and Regional States have been touring affected areas and assessing situations first hand by discussing with communities in the affected areas.  Deputy Prime Minister Demeke Mekonnen is chairing a committee which meets weekly to assess situations and take appropriate actions as and when required.

The leadership role that the Government is playing in dealing with El Nino-caused drought is highly appreciated at the international level.  United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Emergency Relief Coordinator Stephen O’Brien was guest speaker at the opening of the WFP Executive Board 2nd Session on 9 November, 2015.  In his presentation on global humanitarian crisis, he also referred to the El Nino-caused drought in Ethiopia and thanked the Government for the way it is handling the situation and requested WFP and others to assist Ethiopia.  WFP Executive Director Ertharin Cousin, WFP Regional Director for Eastern and Southern Africa Valeri Guarneri and WFP Ethiopia country Director John Aylieff expressed their appreciation for the leadership of the Government and the actions it is taking.

Ethiopia is a member of the WFP Executive Board, and represented by the Permanent Representation Office of the Embassy of Ethiopia in Rome.  We briefed the Executive Board of what the Government has been doing to control drought situation created by the El Nino effect.  We further expressed appreciation, on behalf of the people and government of Ethiopia, to the WFP Management for preparing the budget increase proposal, the Executive Board for approving the increase, and through the Executive Board to the development partners of Ethiopia for their continuous, generous support.  We further stated that up to now Ethiopia has managed to bring the situation under control by using domestic resources.  However, such domestic resources are diverted to relief at the cost of development activities in general and agricultural development in particular. 

We further drew the attention of the Executive Board to the following:  That presently majority of our population lives in rural areas depending on rain-fed agriculture, and resources that are used for emergency relief could have been used to develop surface and underground water for irrigated-agriculture, among other development activities; that the national food reserve would need to be replenished;  and that Ethiopia, with its open door policy, is hosting more than 730 thousand refugees in the country.


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