UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Ethiopia Eugene Owusu said the 2.8-million figure tells only part of the story, according to Voice of America. “An additional 956,000 require targeted supplementary feeding. An estimated 107,000 children may continue to require treatment for severe acute malnutrition, and 3.3 million people will require screening for more nutrition and Vitamin A supplementation.”
7.8 million Ethiopians are also supported by the Productive Safety Net Program, which provides food or money to households facing shortages, according to Bloomberg.
Nearly 40% of the needy live in the eastern and southeastern arid lowlands of the Somali region and the Oromiya region. Drought in those areas from October to December have contributed to the problem, according to the UN. The Somali region is sparsely populated with only 6% of Ethiopia’s population, but it is also home to a low level insurgency being conducted by the indigenous rebel group the Ogaden National Liberation Force. The group claims that the national government is blocking food aid to the rebel areas, and Voice of America reports that aid community representatives are pushing for greater access there.
The situation is often frustrating, as the head of the British government’s Department for International Development office in Ethiopia, Howard Taylor, says: “It gets better and it gets worse. It is not a constant. Sometimes the food is getting through and sometimes we know it is not.”
The 2.8 million Ethiopians in need of emergency food aid is actually down from 5.2 million last year. Rains were good in 2010 and decreased the number to 2.3 million because of a bumper harvest. The current drought in the Somali region pushed the 2.3 million number up to 2.8 million, however.
Though it has an ambitious development plan, Ethiopia is currently on the bottom of the Human Development Index, and is “one of the world’s largest recipients of foreign aid, receiving more than $3 billion in 2008, according ato the New York-based Human Rights Watch.”
22 February, 2011