UN food agency launches new emergency effort to feed 2.5 million Ethiopians

UN food agency launches new emergency effort to feed 2.5 million Ethiopians

The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) today launched a new $89.7 million emergency operation to feed 2.5 million small-scale farmers in Ethiopia.

WFP, the world's largest food aid agency, says 206,000 metric tonnes of food are urgently needed to assist people affected by drought and recurring crop failure.

This represents a welcome dip in the level of assistance that the agency requires for Ethiopia. "For the last twelve months, WFP requested over 605,000 metric tonnes of food to assist some 5.7 million people, but this year due to favourable weather conditions, we are asking for less food aid," explained WFP official Benedict Fultang.

Although the overall humanitarian situation in Ethiopia is gradually improving, many people in several parts of the country remain highly vulnerable. Pastoralists and subsistence farmers who have been hit by alternating bouts of drought and crop failure over the last four to five years still need help to rebuild their lives.

"The recovery process for people affected by poor harvest and drought will take several years," Mr. Fultang predicted. "In some regions of Ethiopia, impoverished rural communities still cannot afford to buy food even when markets are well supplied," he observed.

The new emergency operation is part of a wider $203.3 million appeal for Ethiopia launched last February by the UN country team. As part of the UN's consolidated approach, WFP will focus its aid on not only saving lives but also using food to assist in recovery activities.