September 2003, Rome -- Serious food shortages and
high levels of malnutrition continue to affect a large number of
people in several parts of Ethiopia, FAO said today.
An estimated 13.2 million people are now in need of
emergency assistance in the country. The food situation in the
Southern Nations Nationalities and Peoples Region (SNNPR)
remains particularly critical.
response to recent appeals for emergency assistance has been
unprecedented, averting a large humanitarian disaster, FAO said.
Cereal seed distribution, for instance, has
met most of the requirements, but in some areas farmers still
FAO called for an additional
$7.7 million for projects on animal health, feed and fodder and
the provision of seeds for non-cereal crops.
"The funding of these projects is essential
to strengthen the capacity of vulnerable farmers and
pastoralists, to make them more self-reliant and less dependent
on food aid," said Anne M. Bauer, Director, Emergency
Operations and Rehabilitation Division.
"Providing the poorest families with a
minimum of agricultural inputs is a first step for them to
resume food production," she said. "Especially
pastoralists are in urgent need of support."
Helping pastoralists to save their
Livestock diseases such
as anthrax, black leg, bovine and ovine pasteurellosis are
spreading in SNNPR and could even threaten other regions or
neighbouring countries, FAO warned.
Veterinary services in pastoral areas are poorly
equipped for vaccination campaigns. FAO therefore proposed
strengthening veterinary services and training veterinary staff.
Where necessary, vaccines should be
provided to protect animals against diseases. Around 30 000
pastoral families would benefit from these interventions.
Drought has killed many farm animals in
pastoral areas, FAO said. The agency will therefore assist in
setting up fodder banks to feed animals during drought and dry
Improved feed supply to lactating
and reproductive animals, such as cows, sheep and goats, will
increase milk availability especially for children and will also
contribute to faster recovery of herds and flocks.
Funding for livestock emergency feed has been
insignificant so far to cover the needs.
FAO is planning to distribute more than 3 million
sweet potato cuttings and vegetable seeds to the poorest farmers
in SNNPR. About 50 000 farm families would benefit from this
The UN agency stressed
that food insecurity in Ethiopia is mostly chronic and mainly
linked with structural causes and poverty, and aggravated by
recurring disasters, caused by nature and people.
The number of vulnerable people has increased over the
past decade, despite an increase in food aid and development
assistance. There are several reasons for this trend, FAO said.
The annual agricultural growth, for
example, averages 2.4 percent compared to a population growth
rate of 2.8 percent. This increases Ethiopia's annual food
In addition, agricultural
policies in the rural sector have yet to address structural
problems inhibiting growth and aggravating poverty.
Overall, there has been a trend towards declining
investment in the deficit areas, whilst surplus producing areas
were continually affected by volatile prices that are hindering
There is also very
little integration between surplus and deficit areas. Poor
marketing and transport infrastructure compound the problems of
a weak agricultural sector. Present trends in marketing continue
to benefit urban dwellers, at the expense of the rural sector.
The combination of relief and development
resources should improve the economic viability of small farmers
and lift them out of poverty and chronic hunger.
In this regard, the government of Ethiopia, together
with the World Bank, FAO and other UN agencies, donors and
non-governmental organizations, haslaunched the New Coalition
for Food Security.
Information Officer, FAO
(+39) 06 570