Drought remains a challenge for Ethiopia

The Ministry of Agriculture says 3.7 million Ethiopians will need humanitarian assistance between this August and December, up from 3.2 million people in the first half of 2012. This shows the number of people seeking aid has increased by 16 percent.  Still it is a reduction from the over 4.5 million Ethiopians who required immediate emergency food assistance during the last six months of 2011. 
“The country needs 314 million metric tons of food to meet the gap.  It has already 120 tons of food products carried over from last year. And hence, the net food requirement is 194 million metric tons. Estimates are that this will cost around USD 149 million. When coupled with the non-food costs of the humanitarian crisis, the cost of feeding the climate induced food insecure people swells to USD 189 million,” said Mitiku Kassa, State Minister of Agriculture.  
“It is not only food assistance we are requiring to provide in order to address such compounded problems but also a range of health and nutrition, water and sanitation, agriculture and education. To provide such non-food assistance, a total of approximately USD 40 million is required,” he added.   
Of the total 3.7 million food insecure people in the country; 47 percent of them are in Somali, 27 Percent in Oromiya, 10 percent in Tigray, and 7.7 percent in Amhara regional states, according to the information obtained from the ministry.
The government appealed to international community for 160 thousand metric tons of food estimated to cost USD 123 million in January 2012. The international donor community responded by providing 128 thousand metric tons estimated to cost USD 91 million. This represents 74 percent of the total requirement. However, in the first half of the current European year, the government managed to distribute 226 thousand metric tons of food. At the same time, the government has secured more than USD 40 million for non-food items. 
The Ethiopian government, in April 2011, appealed for USD 398.4 million to provide emergency food assistance for millions of drought victims. There were 3.2 million people in need of emergency assistance in that year. This number has increased to 4.5 million in the second half. The USD 234.4 million raised in response to the humanitarian crisis in the first half of last European year was found to be unsatisfactory due to an increase in the number of beneficiaries.
In 2011, the country needed 380,000 metric tons of food to assist the affected people including 700,000 children under five, pregnant and lactating women from across the country. However, the country had 113 metric tons of food in reserve.