Lack of international funding creates hole in aid effort for Ethiopia

September 3rd, 2008 | by addis portal |

Children’s lives in Ethiopia are at risk because of a chronic lack of international funding for food aid, warns Save the Children.A US$140 million shortfall in funding to the UN’s World Food Programme means that aid agencies such as Save the Children, as well as the Ethiopian government’s rescue effort, don’t have enough money to provide essential short- and long-term feeding for chronically malnourished children.

Save the Children’s warning comes as John Holmes, the Under-Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs to the UN, visits Ethiopia to assess the catastrophic impact of rising food prices on the country.

The children’s aid agency is currently feeding nearly 10,000 malnourished children in four regions of Ethiopia, many of whom would die without support. But lack of funds for the aid effort means it is unable to provide those children with a supply of food to supplement their diet and keep them healthy once they have left the feeding programme and returned home. This means children are at risk of falling once again into a dangerous state of malnutrition.

David Throp, speaking on behalf of Save the Children, said:

“The international aid effort has already saved thousands of children’s lives. But this crisis is deteriorating by the day and we continue to identify further hotspots where more children need our help.

“We know that children could die, even after initial treatment for malnutrition, if we are not able to stabilise their health properly. There is not enough money behind the aid operation to do this at the moment. Extra funding is also needed so we can help re-establish ways for families to earn a living, so that they have enough money to see them through the crisis and beyond.”

“Save the Children is working with other NGOs, the UN and the Ethiopian government to protect children from malnutrition. But if international leaders and donors don’t act now to plug the US$140 million funding shortfall, the consequences will be severe.”

Emergency food rations across the country have already been cut by a third because of a lack of resources. The UN’s World Food Programme is now facing a shortfall of 170,000 metric tonnes of food, which will cost US$140 million to cover.

Throp continued: “It is vital that this gap in the food supply is filled urgently. Much more needs to be done to ensure that children in Ethiopia do not fall into a vicious circle of malnutrition.”

Millions of children in Ethiopia are struggling to survive a new kind of food crisis, caused by a lethal combination of rocketing food prices and drought. Crops have failed, animals are dying, and families are unable to afford basic staples such as corn and wheat, which have risen in price by 177% and 117% respectively since January this year.

Save the Children is appealing for US$20 million to support the millions of children affected by Ethiopia’s food crisis. Its 800-strong team is currently working to help nearly 900,000 people in six of the worst-affected regions in Ethiopia. Work includes providing emergency feeding and healthcare for malnourished children, delivering veterinary drugs and animal feed to help families keep their animals alive, setting up work schemes to provide parents with a way to earn food and money, and providing clean water.

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