Ethiopia Raises Number Needing Food Relief by 500,000

February 7th, 2011 | by addis portal |

Ethiopia raised the estimate of the number of people who will need food aid this year by half a million to 2.8 million because of drought in the Somali region, Agriculture State Minister Mitiku Kassa said today.

The government in November estimated that a bumper harvest had cut the number of Ethiopians needing emergency food aid to 2.3 million from more than 5 million. About 107,000 children may need treatment for severe malnutrition, the United Nations humanitarian coordinator in Ethiopia, Eugene Owusu, said at a joint briefing with Mitiku in the capital, Addis Ababa.

Failure of rains from October to December in the arid eastern Somali region and the southeast of Oromia region are “having a significant humanitarian impact,” Owusu said.

Water shortages could persist until May in the drought- affected areas, Amy Martin, deputy head of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, said today in an interview.

The Somali region has been the scene of clashes between government forces and the Ogaden National Liberation Front rebel group. The insurgents have been fighting for self-determination for the people of the Ogaden, a region that borders Somalia, for 16 years.

Ethiopia, sub-Saharan Africa’s second-most populous nation and top coffee producer, has another 7.8 million people who receive food or cash under the Productive Safety Net Program, Mitiku said. The program is financed by donors including the U.S., the European Union, the World Bank and the U.K.

To contact the reporter on this story: William Davison in Addis Ababa via Johannesburg at pmrichardson@bloomberg.net.

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