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Why Dictators Love Development Statistics. They’re an easily faked way to score international points.- The New Republic May 6, 2018

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Odaa Oromoooromianeconomistcan you believe statistics of Ethiopia

The problem with using statistics to sing the praises of autocracy is that collecting verifiable data inside closed societies is nearly impossible. From Ethiopia to Kazakhstan, the data that “proves” that an authoritarian regime is doing good is often produced by that very same regime.

Once regime-produced data makes it into the world’s most trusted indexes, authoritarians and their unintentional supporters use these numbers in their propaganda, which hampers efforts to promote human rights.

When Ethiopian prime minister Meles Zenawi died in 2012, Bill Gates led a chorus of Western praise for his development efforts, praising Zenawi for bringing millions out of poverty and ignoring his near-total censorship or his massacre of hundreds of protestors. The Economist and the The New York Review of Books have since pointed out that the Ethiopian regime fabricates development statistics.


Why Dictators Love Development Statistics

They’re an easily faked way to score international points.


 

Exchanges at the Organization of American States usually don’t do well on YouTube. But when the Honduran Minister of Foreign Affairs brought up Venezuela’s crackdown on dissent last summer, Venezuelan representative Delcy Rodríguez scored surprise points with a rebuttal citing the United Nations’ 2016 Human Development Index, which ranks Venezuela 59 spots higher than Honduras. Crackdown or no crackdown, “Venezuela does not demonstrate such terrifying statistics,” she said, in an exchange that soon went viral on Spanish-speaking social media. It was a win for the Maduro regime, and the key to victory was trusted U.N. data.

For those of us working to advance human rights, such episodes are becoming frustratingly familiar. From the development initiatives of Jeffrey Sachs and Bill Gates, to Tony Blair’s despotic partnerships or Tom Friedman championing Chinese autocracy in The New York Times, the last two decades have seen political concerns repeatedly sidelined by development statistics. The classic defense of dictatorship is that without the messy constraints of free elections, free press, and free protests, autocrats can quickly tear down old cities to build efficient new ones, dam rivers to provide electricity, and lift millions out of poverty.

The problem with using statistics to sing the praises of autocracy is that collecting verifiable data inside closed societies is nearly impossible. From Ethiopia to Kazakhstan, the data that “proves” that an authoritarian regime is doing good is often produced by that very same regime.

A handful of organizations power the global industry of statistics collection, including the World Bank, the United Nations, and the World Economic Forum. Each of these organizations conduct large-scale socio-economic surveys, where researchers want to include as many countries as possible. However, many of these countries—93 of them, comprising nearly 4 billion people, according to the Human Rights Foundation—are ruled by authoritarian regimes that typically block impartial investigators from entering their borders. Often, data collectors are forced to work with the strongmen in charge.

For Bahrain, the World Economic Forum receives most of its data from surveys given to government officials at the Bahrain Economic Development Board, who conduct them and give the results back to Geneva. In WEF’s analysis from that point, outliers may be cast out or excluded with data modeling, but the foundational numbers remain entirely a creation of the dictatorship.

UNESCO representatives say that in the case of Cuba, they use the regime’s education numbers in compiling their reports. There is no on-the-ground verification for these often-encouraging figures. Meanwhile, a former treasury official from Uzbekistan said that visits from international data collectors were highly choreographed, and that the regime was easily able to control survey outcomes.

When surveys don’t go according to plan, dictators can simply shut polling down. Gallup World Poll director Jon Clifton, when I called him up as part of a Human Rights Foundation interview several years ago, recalled a time when the company’s researchers had collected data in one African country, only to have their equipment seized at the airport on the way out.

Still, no one wants blank countries on their world maps. “Ultimately, organizations need to produce some kind of data,” Clifton said. “Even if it’s not terribly good, they still need data.”

But the development reports using such numbers also wind up giving them institutional legitimacy, in ways that can affect huge decisions in aid and trade. World Bank data in particular, as one 2012 study observed, is promoted in media outlets as a reputable guide for global investment, and has inspired reforms as countries seek to climb the rankings. UNESCO’s numbers go into the World Development Report (World Bank) and the Human Development Index (UNDP), where they serve, in UNESCO’s own words, to “benchmark progress towards national and international targets.” The educational components of the Sustainable Development Goals—which guide and inspire do-gooders and impact investors across the planet—are measured with UNESCO data. Statistics flow directly from many dictatorial governments to UNESCO and then into the SDG reports.

Once regime-produced data makes it into the world’s most trusted indexes, authoritarians and their unintentional supporters use these numbers in their propaganda, which hampers efforts to promote human rights.

When Ethiopian prime minister Meles Zenawi died in 2012, Bill Gates led a chorus of Western praise for his development efforts, praising Zenawi for bringing millions out of poverty and ignoring his near-total censorship or his massacre of hundreds of protestors. The Economist and the The New York Review of Books have since pointed out that the Ethiopian regime fabricates development statistics.

Halfway across the globe in Venezuela, the late Hugo Chávez built a global reputation as the people’s president, proudly flaunting statistics showing his administration had reduced poverty by 50 percent. In 2014, Chavismo heir Nicolás Maduro justified his crackdown on dissent—torturing and kidnapping student protesters—in a New York Times op-ed citing data showing that his regime “consistently reduced inequality,” “reduced poverty enormously,” and “improved citizens’ lives over all.” The source of that data? The U.N. Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean, which used Millennium Development Goal data—which came directly from the regime’s own statisticians.

In Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev’s dictatorship has used economic growth data to convince the world that it is a thriving, effective government with a robust investment climate. The World Economic Forum, among others, gave the Azeri regime a platform to talk about its financial success—which is used to whitewash crimes ranging from the jailing of dissidents to the theft of billions.

Rwandan dictator Paul Kagame’s human rights violations are legion: the assassination of critical journalists, sponsorship of death squads in the Congolese jungle, the use of international hitmen, and the jailing of political opponents. Despite all this, supporters ranging from Bill Clinton to Jeffrey Sachs breathlessly praise his leadership and economic success. When Kagame “won” 99 percent of the presidential vote a few months ago, the international community was quick to call that political data into question. But Rwanda’s literacy rates, life expectancy, and economic growth numbers continue to be taken at face value.

This near-universal lack of skepticism is hard to explain, especially since the problem isn’t new. In 1987, two Soviet economists published an article called Lukavaya Tsifra(“cunning numbers”) which demonstrated that between 1928 and 1985, the USSR’s GDP had grown over ten times slower than reported by the regime’s Central Statistical Administration. They showed that the regime’s “official” economic data was being falsified to whitewash human suffering.

In 2014, researchers at Bucknell compared satellite images of nighttime lights over time (a proxy for economic activity) to reported GDP growth to show that dictatorships, on average, exaggerate economic growth significantly more than democratic governments. Others have taken up this subject, too­—two examples being development historian Morten Jerven’s Poor Numbers: How We Are Misled by African Development Statistics and What to Do About It and economist Bill Easterly’s The Tyranny of Experts: Economists, Dictators, and the Forgotten Rights of the Poor. But these analyses have not fundamentally changed how people use development data.

When used by universities and research institutions, socio-economic data sets guide our fundamental understanding of the world. When used by policy makers, philanthropists, and bankers, they steer billions of dollars of aid and investment. Often, the reason data from dictators remains unchallenged is that so many economists, financiers, diplomats, and donors rely on it to do their jobs.

But without more rigorous inquiry into the origin and quality of socio-economic data, the grim reality of dictatorship often remains obscured. Beyond that, intellectuals and world leaders might do well reflect on their worship of development numbers over human rights concerns.

After all, even if the data behind the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals could be verified, what do they signify if not a single one mentions the words individual rights, civil liberties, or democracy—even once? Numbers aren’t always as simple or as neutral as they seem.


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Ethiopia: Famine watchdog warns of hunger crisis in parts of southeast Ethiopia December 2, 2017

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Odaa OromooOromianEconomist

Famine watchdog warns of hunger crisis in parts of southeast Ethiopia

The Messenger Aafrica    

The Famine Early Warning Systems Network says some families in southeastern Ethiopia face a potential ‘catastrophe’ after large-scale livestock die-offs in the past year.

The USAID-funded watchdog writes in its latest November update that some populations of Ethiopia are forecasted to reach levels 4 to 5 on the five-point scale used to measure food security and famine.

“A major food security emergency is expected to continue in southeastern Ethiopia into mid-2018. Worst-affected areas include Dollo, Korahe, and Jarar zones, along with parts of Afder and Liben, which will be in Emergency (IPC Phase 4) through May 2018, while some households will be in Catastrophe (IPC Phase 5),” the watchdog group says.

FEWS NET works with agricultural, market, and weather data to forecast gaps that could lead to widespread hunger or famine.

Recently, southeast Ethiopia’s ongoing Deyr/Hagaya season (which runs from October to December) has performed better than other recent seasons. However, the report questions whether this improvement is enough to keep pastoral and agropastoral families in the region from falling into hunger.

“Substantial time and favorable performance in upcoming seasons is needed for households to reconstitute livestock herds and recover their key livelihood activities, following very high excess livestock deaths and sales due to drought in 2016/17,” reads the report.

Food security is also expected to be ‘stressed’ in parts of the Southern Nations Region from February to June next year, due to poor harvests this year, but humanitarian needs there will not be as bad as the Somali region.

FEWS NET recommends “large-scale, sustained assistance… in order to mitigate food consumption gaps and limited increases in acute malnutrition and the risk of excess mortality.”

The severe food insecurity in southeastern Ethiopia is similar to that experienced in neighboring Somalia, which has been suffering from a bad drought as well as an ongoing civil war.


Click here to read related article,  from Orromian Economist source: Oxfam: Hungry in a world of plenty: millions on the brink of famine: In Ethiopia alone, 700,000 people are on the verge of starvation. It is estimated that 8.5 million people are hungry in the country.

Oxfam: Hungry in a world of plenty: millions on the brink of famine: In Ethiopia alone, 700,000 people are on the verge of starvation. It is estimated that 8.5 million people are hungry in the country. November 26, 2017

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Odaa OromooOromianEconomist
13.6 million people in Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya are facing dangerous food shortages.
In Ethiopia alone, 700,000 people are on the verge of starvation. It is estimated that 8.5 million people are hungry in the country.
A prolonged drought has caused crops to fail and livestock to die in huge numbers.
The situation could get much worse between now and September and likely to continue until April 2018, if people cannot get the help they need, as food stocks are low before the next harvest.

 

Across the Lake Chad Basin, some 7 million people struggling with food insecurity need asistance.

“Famine does not arrive suddenly or unexpectedly, it comes after months of procrastination and ignored warnings. It is a slow agonizing process, driven by callous national politics and international indifference.” By Nigel Timmins, Oxfam

 


Today, the world stands on the brink of unprecedented famines. About 30 million people are experiencing alarming hunger, severe levels of food insecurity and malnutrition in north-eastern Nigeria, South Sudan, Somalia, and Yemen. 10 million of them are facing emergency and famine conditions. Famine is already likely happening in parts of northern Nigeria, while Yemen and Somalia are on the brink. Thanks to aid efforts, it has been pushed back in South Sudan but the food crisis continues to spread across the country.

These are just four of the many countries that are facing high levels of food insecurity this year. In Malawi, Sudan, Afghanistan, DRC or Syria millions of people do not have enough food to feed their families. The situation in some of these countries could worsen if the international community do not address urgent needs and resolve the root causes.

What is famine?

Famine represents the most serious food insecurity situation in terms of both scale and severity.

It occurs when a substantial number of people are dying due to a lack of food or because of a combination of lack of food and disease. When more than 20% of households cannot eat, acute malnutrition exceeds 30% and death and starvation are evident we cannot talk about a humanitarian “emergency” situation anymore but a “famine”. Learn more about the language of food crises.

Famine threat on the map

Famine threat on the map, 8.5 million people are hungry in Ethiopia alone

 

What are the main causes of famine?

There is not a single root cause that just explains all famines – each context has its unique aspects. However, there is always a fatal combination of various factors that can include conflict, insecurity, access, chronic poverty, lack of trade and severe weather events such as persistent drought.

For example, ongoing war and conflict are the primary drivers of the situation in north-eastern Nigeria, South Sudan and Yemen, and for Somalia it is drought and weak governance after years of conflict. In some parts of Ethiopia and Kenya, communities are also suffering from a catastrophic drought which makes it incredibly hard for them to buy food locally or have any source of income.

What is sure is that we always have the power to prevent and end famine, but we always let it happen. A declaration of famine is effectively an admission that the international community has failed to organize and act in time and that national governments have been unable or unwilling to respond.


Famine: Deadly malnutrition crisis in Ethiopia with malnutrition reaching alarming levels June 27, 2017

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Ethiopia: Deadly Malnutrition Crisis in Somali Region


MSF News, June 26, 2017


 

 

An acute humanitarian emergency is unfolding in Ethiopia’s Somali region, with malnutrition reaching alarming levels, the international medical organization Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) said today.

MSF teams in the region’s Doolo Zone report 67 deaths of malnourished children so far in June.

“The numbers of young children with severe acute malnutrition in Doolo Zone are the highest our teams have seen in the area in the 10 years we have worked in the region,” said Saskia van der Kam, MSF nutritional adviser.

MSF teams, working alongside Ethiopian health authorities, have set up 27 outpatient therapeutic feeding centers and four inpatient therapeutic feeding centers to treat children with severe malnutrition. In the locations of Danod, Lehel-Yucub, Wardher, Galadi, and Daratole, MSF teams have treated 6,136 children under five for severe acute malnutrition since January. By comparison, MSF treated 491 children in these areas for severe acute malnutrition during the same period in 2016—a more than tenfold increase.

In the first two weeks of June alone, 322 severely malnourished children were admitted in the four inpatient feeding centers supported by MSF. Despite all medical efforts, 51 of these children did not survive. The total number of deaths among children in June has risen to 67.

“The deaths of these children show the gravity of the situation,” said van der Kam. “What we are seeing is a humanitarian emergency.”

Thousands of People are Fully Dependent on External Aid

The malnutrition crisis comes in the wake of two failed rainy seasons. Many people have seen their livestock die because of the drought, which has forced them to abandon their traditional nomadic way of life. They have settled in informal camps, where they do not have enough food and safe water to survive.

“When the drought came, our animals died so we could no longer stay in the bush,” said Fardausa, a local woman who brought her three-year-old granddaughter, Maida, for treatment to one of the MSF-supported therapeutic feeding centers. “I have never seen a situation like this. We had animals that gave us everything we needed. Now we have nothing and our children become sick and die.”

Droughts are nothing new for people in this area. The mainly pastoralist population knows how to adapt to avoid losing as few camels and cows as possible until the next rains come. But after two failed rainy seasons in a row, many can no longer cope and are now totally dependent on external aid.

“Our teams are seeing entire communities left without milk, as most of their animals have died,” said Karline Kleijer, MSF emergency program manager. “Without their animals, they no longer have a source of income or the means of transporting food and water when on the move. People are knocking on our doors begging for food.”

Malnutrition Soars as Food Aid Runs Short

People in the camps have been receiving food aid and the regional government has been providing cooked meals in most of the informal camps. However, supplies of food are insufficient for the high number of displaced people in need and are now running out.

“In the last week of May, the distribution of cooked food was halted, and the monthly distribution of dry food rations was delayed, leaving large numbers of people without any food at all,” Kleijer said.

More concerning, the World Food Program has warned that its supply of emergency food aid for the Somali region will run out at the end of July, leaving 1.7 million people even more vulnerable to malnutrition.

MSF Urges Donors and Other Organizations to Scale up Their Support to the Somali Region

Fearing a stark deterioration of the nutrition and humanitarian situation in the Somali region, MSF is planning to expand its emergency response to other zones, including Jarar and Nogob.

“Our teams are working with the health authorities to reach as many children as possible to provide them with therapeutic food to reduce the immediate mortality, rather than provide comprehensive care to a smaller number of children,” said Kleijer. “But we shouldn’t have to make such a choice. More food aid and more humanitarian organizations need to arrive in this region urgently.”

MSF calls on donors to increase their support to Ethiopia to ensure that a continuous supply of food reaches people in need. Humanitarian organizations must also dispatch teams and supplies to the hardest-hit areas to prevent the crisis from escalating further.


 

E. Africa on verge of a humanitarian crisis as hunger rages June 19, 2017

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According to the charity, an estimated 20 million people are at risk of starvation in South Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia unless provision of relief food is stepped up by national governments and bilateral donors.

So far, only South Sudan has declared famine in some parts of the country while Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia could be the next epicenter of hunger and malnutrition.


E. Africa on verge of a humanitarian crisis as hunger rages: charity

 

NAIROBI, June 19 (Xinhua) — Countries in East and Horn of Africa region are staring at a large-scale humanitarian crisis occasioned by acute food and water scarcity, international charity, Christian Aid said on Monday.

According to the charity, an estimated 20 million people are at risk of starvation in South Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia unless provision of relief food is stepped up by national governments and bilateral donors.

“The recent disappointing rains in Ethiopia, and also in Kenya have shattered any faint hopes for water sources to fill up, pastures to regenerate and harvest to be viable,” said Christian Aid’s Head of Humanitarian Programs for Africa, Maurice Onyango.

The UN had earlier warned of a looming specter of mass starvation in the greater Horn of Africa region as acute drought and conflicts hobble efforts to feed the population.

So far, only South Sudan has declared famine in some parts of the country while Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia could be the next epicenter of hunger and malnutrition.

The UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) says that cumulatively, 13.4 million people in Kenya, Somalia and Ethiopia are food insecure.

Onyango noted that the magnitude of food insecurity in the region has not matched the capacity of humanitarian agencies to respond.

“Communities affected by drought are relying more on outside aid, stretching humanitarian agencies and local authorities to respond,” said Onyango, adding that Christian Aid has so far provided life saving assistance to nearly 50,000 people affected by drought in the region

Besides providing emergency assistance to drought victims in the East and Horn of Africa, Christian Aid and a consortium of partners are investing in resilience projects to help communities cope with climatic shocks.

Onyango said the Charity has built the capacity of farmers and herders in arid zones to manage water and pasture in a sustainable manner.

“If the world wants to avert future catastrophes of this scale, we need to invest in helping communities become more resilient to disasters,” said Onyango.

Double-digit propaganda, Ethiopia’s top 10 wealthiest people, and Ethiopia’s 87 million poor June 4, 2017

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You will see in the news, and officials of the oppressive Ethiopian government will  smile convincingly when they tell you, that Ethiopia is thriving with a “double-digit” economic growth.Yet many experts and scholars will explain to you why this is triple-digit nonsense and quadruple-digit propaganda.

Read more from the original source: Double-digit propaganda, Ethiopia’s top 10 wealthiest people, and Ethiopia’s 87 million poor

WP: Ethiopia is facing a killer drought. But it’s going almost unnoticed. May 2, 2017

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On Thursday, the Ethiopian government increased its count of the number of people requiring emergency food aid from 5.6 million to 7.7 million, a move that aid agencies say was long overdue. The figure is expected to rise further as southeast Ethiopia confronts another fierce drought.


But with food crises erupting across the continent and the government’s budget strained by last year’s drought, the money isn’t there to fight it. There could eventually be as many people in Ethiopia needing emergency food assistance as in Somalia and South Sudan combined.

There have also been accusations that the government is playing down the severity of the crisis to keep the country from looking bad internationally. During the earlier drought, it was months before the government admitted there was a problem, in part because Ethiopia had gained a reputation as Africa’s rising star and didn’t want to go back to being associated with drought and famine.

The contrast is clear in the bustling capital, Addis Ababa, where rainy skies and a hive of construction projects make it feel thousands of miles away from any drought. While Pizza Hut restaurants are set to soon open in the capital, thousands of children in the arid southeast suffer from acute malnutrition, and cholera is ripping through the relief camps.


Ethiopia is facing a killer drought. But it’s going almost unnoticed.

World Food Program supplies are distributed in a village in Jijiga district, part of Ethiopia’s Somali region. (Michael Tewelde/World Food Program)

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia — The announcement by the United Nations in March that 20 million people in four countries were teetering on the edge of famine stunned the world and rammed home the breadth of the humanitarian crisis faced by so many in 2017.

Yet even as donors struggle to meet the severe needs in the war-torn nations of Nigeria, South Sudan, Somalia and Yemen, another crisis, more environmental in nature, is taking place nearby — nearly unnoticed.

On Thursday, the Ethiopian government increased its count of the number of people requiring emergency food aid from 5.6 million to 7.7 million, a move that aid agencies say was long overdue. The figure is expected to rise further as southeast Ethiopia confronts another fierce drought.

But with food crises erupting across the continent and the government’s budget strained by last year’s drought, the money isn’t there to fight it. There could eventually be as many people in Ethiopia needing emergency food assistance as in Somalia and South Sudan combined.

 Ethiopia, long associated with a devastating famine in the 1980s, returned to the headlines last year when it was hit by severe drought in the highland region, affecting 10.2 million people. Food aid poured in, the government spent hundreds of millions of its own money, and famine was averted.

Now it’s the turn of the lowland region, particularly the area bordering Somalia, where a drought brought on by warming temperatures in the Indian Ocean has ravaged the flocks of the herders in the region and left people without food.

With their sheep and goats mostly dead, the nomads are clustered in camps surviving on aid from the government and international agencies — but that food is about to run out.

“This response capacity that is currently holding it at bay is about to be overwhelmed,” said Charlie Mason, humanitarian director of Save the Children, which is particularly active in Ethiopia’s impoverished Somali region. “We’ve spent all the money we’ve got, basically.”

With donors focused on Somalia across the border, little international aid has found its way to the Ethiopian areas hit by that drought. “I think it’s partly because there are other priorities, and they are not signaling loudly enough to donor offices,” Mason said.

According to a document detailing Ethiopian’s humanitarian needs that was drawn up in January by the government and aid agencies, Ethiopia needs nearly $1 billion to confront the crisis, more than half of which it still lacks. That figure also does not take into account the revised estimates in the numbers of people requiring aid.

 During last year’s drought, Ethiopia came up with more than $400 million of its own money to fight off famine, but this year, it has been able to commit only $47 million, probably because of an exhausted budget.

There have also been accusations that the government is playing down the severity of the crisis to keep the country from looking bad internationally. During the earlier drought, it was months before the government admitted there was a problem, in part because Ethiopia had gained a reputation as Africa’s rising star and didn’t want to go back to being associated with drought and famine.

The contrast is clear in the bustling capital, Addis Ababa, where rainy skies and a hive of construction projects make it feel thousands of miles away from any drought. While Pizza Hut restaurants are set to soon open in the capital, thousands of children in the arid southeast suffer from acute malnutrition, and cholera is ripping through the relief camps.

The United Nations World Food Program (WFP), which is working in Ethiopia’s drought-hit Somali region, has started cutting its food rations to 80 percent. It is short $121 million for its Ethiopia operation this year, and the money is expected to run out over the summer.

If no new money arrives, the rations could be cut to 420 calories for the whole day — the equivalent of a burger. The government’s food contribution will probably suffer a similar fate.

“It’s stretching the humanitarian community,” WFP regional spokeswoman Challiss McDonough said, referring to the string of crises in the Horn of Africa and elsewhere on the continent. “I don’t think of it as donor fatigue. Quite frankly, the donors have been extremely generous, continuing to be so — but they are overwhelmed.”

 There is also the fact that the Horn of Africa has been incredibly unlucky these past few years in terms of weather. Though famine was averted, many parts of the Ethiopian highlands are still recovering from the 2015-2016 drought, which was attributed to the El Niño ocean-warming phenomenon in the Pacific.

The U.N. World Meteorological Organization said Friday that there is a 50 percent to 60 percent chance that the Pacific will see another strong warming trend this year, which means Ethiopia’s highlands will be slammed again at a time when world resources are scarcer than ever.

“The droughts are coming more frequently and more often and they are worse — and that’s climate change. That’s very, very clear,” McDonough said. “You talk to any farmer how are the rains now compared to 20-30 years ago, they see a difference in their lifetimes, particularly the older ones.”

Even while they have one of the smallest carbon footprints on the globe, herders’ fragile existence in the arid climate of the Horn of Africa is probably the most threatened by climate change.

Adding to aid organizations’ concerns is a proposal by the Trump administration to slash U.S. contributions to international aid institutions, including the WFP. The U.S. government is the largest donor to the program. The proposed cuts, part of the president’s 2018 budget blueprint, are likely to face stiff opposition in Congress.


Paul Schemm is the Post’s overnight foreign editor based in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, joining the paper in 2016. He previously worked for the Associated Press as North Africa chief correspondent based in Morocco and prior to that in Cairo as part of the Middle East regional bureau.

UNICEF: Ethiopia: 5.6 million people require relief food assistance in 2017 March 9, 2017

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   UNICEF Ethiopia Humanitarian SitRep #12 – Reporting Period February 2017

Report from UN Children’s Fund on 06 Mar 2017

      Highlights:

  • A negative Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) resulted in below average rainfall over East Africa and led to drought situations in Somali, Oromia and SNNP regions. The humanitarian situation continues to deteriorate and more than 4.2 million people in these regions are targeted to receive food aid in 2017 (out of a total of 5.6 million people estimated to require food assistance in Ethiopia in 2017). These people are also in critical need of emergency water, health and nutrition services.
  • The Ministry of Health, with support from health partners and UNICEF, has started a regular national measles vaccination targeting 22.9 million children.
  • The Government of Ethiopia, with support from WASH partners, including UNICEF, is providing water rations to an estimated 839,500 people in Afar, Oromia, SNNP, Somali and Tigray regions.
  • Child protection and education sectors remain largely underfunded, with no funds received for 2017 in either programme. Both programmes play a critical role in protecting emergency affected children and addressing children’s psychosocial needs.

        SITUATION IN NUMBERS

5.6 million people* require relief food assistance in 2017
303,000 children* are expected to require treatment for SAM in 2017
9.2 million people* require access to safe drinking water and sanitation services
2 million school-aged children* require emergency school feeding and learning       materials assistance
There are 801,079 refugees in Ethiopia (UNHCR, January 2017)

        Situation Overview and Humanitarian Needs

The humanitarian situation continues to deteriorate in Somali, Oromia plus parts of SNNP regions. According to the 2017 Humanitarian Requirements Document (HRD), 5.6 million people require relief food aid in Ethiopia, including more than 4.2 million people in the Horn of Africa (HoA) drought affected regions. However, as the drought situation is worsening, an increase in people requiring food aid is expected. Water shortage and depletion of pasture have resulted in the displacement of mainly pastoralist populations to neighbouring woredas and regions as well as the deaths of a large number of livestock. In addition, the displacement of families has further disrupted already limited education opportunities for children and significantly increased the risk for children’s separation from families, abuse and exploitation. In Afar, failure of seasonal rains in December 2016 has resulted in critical water shortage.

In early February 2017, UNICEF has undertaken an assessment of the impact of the drought in the most affected zones of SNNP region (Gamo Gofa, Segen and South Omo). The assessment findings indicate that water, food and livestock feed are the most pressing needs in the affected areas.

The renewed influx of Somali and South Sudanese refugees into Somali and SNNP regions, respectively, has further stressed the already dire situation in these regions. In SNNP, a total of 4,800 families seeking asylum have fled South Sudan due to food insecurity and conflict and have reportedly settled in Ngangatom woreda of South Omo zone in January 2017. In Somali region, 4,106 asylum seekers from Somalia have arrived in Ethiopia between 1 January and 28 February 2017, fleeing from a conflict exacerbated by food insecurity.


Related:-

Famine: Ethiopia: 5.6 million people need urgent humanitarian assistance requiring in 2017 January 11, 2017

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Odaa OromooOromianEconomistocha

5.6 Million Ethiopians are in need of emergency food assistance in 2017. Failed rains from late September to November caused a new drought in Oromia, Somali and SNNP regions. Pastoralist and agro pastoralist communities in Borena, Guji, Bale and East Hararge zones of Oromia region, all the nine zones of Somali region and Omo, Gamo Gofa and Segen zones of SNNP region are the most affected.

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Crisis in Ethiopia: Drought persists, and nutrition suffers September 28, 2016

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Odaa OromooOromianEconomistZenawi the tyrant still rules after death

 

 

Ethiopia is one such part of the world where there is ongoing disappointment, and hope has been severely tested. The country, in the Horn of Africa, has experienced very bad drought since February 2015. There was no harvest at the end of last year, and it’s doubtful there will be much of one this year. Spring brought rain, and some relief, but in some places too much rain led to severe flooding, which displaced 190,000 people. “The majority of Ethiopian farmers are dependent on rain-fed agriculture. Rain failure is a disaster for farmers,” said Argaw Fantu, regional director in Ethiopia for the Catholic Near East Welfare Association. “Some areas are also naturally disadvantaged areas as the rainfall is so erratic, [and because of the] rocky and mountainous nature of the area.”

Though the situation is not as extreme as it was in the 1980s, when some 400,000 Ethiopians starved to death, more than 10 million people are threatened with malnutrition. The United Nations estimates that 15 million people are in urgent need of food aid due to drought, and that 33% of this population is already suffering the effects of severe malnutrition due to agriculture failure and death of livestock, Fides reported. It is estimated that, between October 2015 and April 2016 about 450,000 animals died, severely affecting the supply of milk, especially for children.

 

 

The colored corn and pumpkins decorating the front entrances of homes in North America, the weekend apple-picking ventures, the waning days of the farmer’s market in town all hark back to a time when America was a thoroughly agrarian society. So while “harvest time” may be more of a slogan than anything else anymore, in other parts […]

via Crisis in Ethiopia: Drought persists, and nutrition suffers — Aleteia.org – Worldwide Catholic Network Sharing Faith Resources for those seeking Truth – Aleteia.org

The Top 10 Poorest Countries in Africa:  With one of the lowest GDP Per Capita ($505) on the continent, Ethiopia making  the 9th poorest country. September 26, 2016

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Odaa OromooOromianEconomist05df6-normal_addis_ababa_slum_-_march_2013

Shoppers and vendors make their way down a flooded street in Merkato, one of Africa's largest market areas, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia Wednesday, Aug. 29, 2012. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)

The Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, commonly known as Ethiopia, is the continent’s ninth poorest country. Its 100 million citizens make it the most populous landlocked nation in the world, and the second most populous on the continent after Nigeria.

Surprisingly, the economic situation in Ethiopia only worsened as recent as 2008, when the country’s inflation rose to double digits due to it’s a myriad of factors including its loose monetary policy, high food prices, and a huge civil service wage bill. Thus, the economic problems in the country are considered structural issues in governance, which are gradually being addressed by the government. The country’s best performing sector is agriculture.

Nevertheless, the country’s GDP remains to be one of the lowest on the continent, making it the 9th poorest nation.

The ten poorests countries are:

10. Guinea-Conakry

9. Ethiopia

8. The Gambia

7. The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)

6. Madagascar-

5. Liberia

4. Niger

3. Central African Republic (CAR)

2. Burundi

1. Malawi


9. Ethiopia- GDP per capita: $505.00.

Shoppers and vendors make their way down a flooded street in Merkato, one of Africa's largest market areas, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia Wednesday, Aug. 29, 2012. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)

Shoppers and vendors make their way down a flooded street in Merkato, one of Africa’s largest market areas, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia Wednesday, Aug. 29, 2012. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)

 

Source: The Top 10 Poorest Countries in Africa

Famine: Ethiopia (Addis Ababa): Increased number of people on the streets begging for food and money and the government is trying hard to keep word from getting out May 2, 2016

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Odaa OromooPeople are dying of famine in Ethiopia, Hararghe including children, mothers and adults July, August 2015 during Obama Africa visit4

DEFYING CENSORSHIP, HUNGER STORIES EMERGE FROM ETHIOPIA

by Christabel Ligami

During my recent visit to Addis Ababa, one thing caught my eyes: the increased number of people on the streets begging for food and money. This is not the same Ethiopian capital I visited last year. It is very different due to a severe drought, and the government is trying hard to keep word from getting out.

<p>Ziway Dugda district communities waiting for food distribution at Ogolcha food centre in a drought stricken area in Ziway Dugda district, during UN Secretary General, Ban Ki moon's visit to Ethiopia, on 31 January, 2016.</p>
Ziway Dugda district communities waiting for food distribution at Ogolcha food centre in a drought stricken area in Ziway Dugda district, during UN Secretary General, Ban Ki moon’s visit to Ethiopia, on 31 January, 2016.(AP/MulugetaAyene)

I asked a fellow journalist from Ethiopia – I will not mention his identity for security reasons – if I could take a photo.

“The government doesn’t want us (media) to write about this, and especially if you are a foreign journalist, you will be in much trouble. Most of the local journalists here are in jail for reporting the hunger stories and other stories that the government is against.

“The government thinks by telling the hunger stories, it is an embarrassment to the country,” he says, echoing what I hear from other journalists as well as NGOs.

Ethiopia is facing its worst drought in at least three decades, with devastating effects on agriculture and livestock, whilst millions of people face food insecurity. More than 10 million people – one in ten Ethiopians – are said to need emergency aid due to failed rains.

The Ethiopian government and humanitarian agencies have said that Ethiopia needs nearly US$600 million in international humanitarian assistance. But critics say the government’s new leasing law for foreign concerns is aggravating the crisis by blocking livestock from grazing in areas less-affected by the drought.

One-quarter of all districts in Ethiopia – mainly in the north of the country – are officially classified as facing a food security and nutrition crisis after the drought cut production by up to 90 per cent in some areas. That has caused a flight to the cities.

“Whenever the drought occurs in these areas, people migrate to areas less affected to look for food, and Addis Ababa is one of the areas they move to, especially those just in the outskirts of the city,” said Mitiku Kassa, the Commissioner in charge of Ethiopia’s Disaster Risk Management and Food Security Agency, in an interview with Equal Times.

According to the NGO Save the Children the number of those affected could be higher, considering that 7.9 million people are supported by the government’s safety net program that provides wheat, cereals and cooking oil. It says at least 6 million children are hungry.


Worst seen since the 1980s

The nation has historically struggled with hunger, including in the 1980s, when famine and civil war left hundreds of thousands of people dead.

Experts are predicting that Ethiopia will experience the worst drought in generations, one that will surpass the 1984 famine that killed one million people.

United Sates Department of Agriculture reports that Ethiopia sought 1 million tons of wheat late last year – more than what it bought last season. The government also purchased 500,000 tons more last month through the port of Djibouti, as Ethiopia is a landlocked country.

It is estimated that imports will jump to 2.5 million tons this year, up from the 900,000 tons purchased last year. And USAID, which has deployed a disaster response team to Ethiopia, last month announced that it would provide nearly US$4 million in maize and wheat seed for more than 226,000 households.

“The Ethiopian government is building distribution points and temporary warehouses for the food delivery,” Mohammed Said, the Ethiopian government Director of Communications and Media, tells Equal Times.

“All the centres in the drought-affected regions have been equipped with food they need, and focus is now shifting to providing seeds and fertiliser to farmers so they can start planting following the start of rains.”

He said that the government has a budget of US$381million to cater for those affected by drought, including their animals.

The UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) early this year announced an emergency US$50 million aid to help drought-hit Ethiopians.

Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn said Ethiopia has launched emergency food delivery and supervision system that helps provide food for the drought affected areas before the onset of the rainy season. He also called for more international assistance.

The United Nations also says that 5.8 million people in the country are in need water, sanitation, and hygiene services while the total assistance required in 2016 is US$1.4 billion.

The predicted number of children at risk from suffering from severe malnutrition this year is 430,000.

Paul Handley, Head of the Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in Ethiopia, said that by the end of the first quarter of 2016, 546,257 moderately malnourished children and pregnant and breastfeeding women were treated through the Targeted Supplementary Feeding (TSF) Programme. This represents 82 per cent of the first quarter target of 665,000 people.

“Food overall will become harder to access if we continue to see prices rise, food stocks deplete and livestock become weaker, less productive, and perish,” says FAO representative for Ethiopia, Amadou Allahoury.

“As soon as the rains start, FAO plans include distributing seeds and animal feed, vaccinating animals, delivering 100,000 sheep and goats to vulnerable households and giving farmers cash for bringing weakened and unproductive livestock to slaughter.”

He says that the current drought is not just a food crisis – it is above all a livelihood crisis.

Under Ethiopian law, land is government-owned but occupants have customary rights. In 2010, Ethiopia passed a new farm policy to which the government is leasing 3 million hectares to foreign agricultural investors who mostly include Chinese, Indians and Saudis.

According to the government, the foreign investors will have to satisfy domestic food needs before they can export, while at the same time improve the social welfare of people in the rural areas.

“You cannot speak about land issues now especially with the food insecurity in the country. You will be arrested for that,” says one official who spoke on condition of anonymity. “The vast majority of land is being used by foreigners for agriculture, especially rice cultivation in the southwest region,” he says.

Although not as affected by the drought as the northern region, the southwest is where most of the food for the country comes from.

“Pastoralists would also move to this region whenever there is drought in the north, to graze their animals, but now they can’t,” the official says. “This is one of the reasons we are witnessing the worst hunger in the country.”


http://www.equaltimes.org/defying-censorship-hunger-stories?lang=en#.Vychth0rJdi

Ethiopia’s fake economic growth borrows from ENRON’s accounting December 28, 2015

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Odaa Oromoo

the-grim-reality-behind-ethiopia-rise-hype1ethiopia_03Dounle digit EthiopiaEthiopia is the one of the lowest in social Progress 2015

Ethiopia’s fake economic growth borrows from ENRON’s accounting

J Bonsa analyses Ethiopia’s economic growth over the last ten years.  Africa At LSE

More than 70 people have been killed and dozens wounded in an ongoing crackdown on peaceful protesters in Oromia. One of the underlying causes of the prevailing tense political situation is Ethiopia’s bogus claim about “miraculous” economic growth in the last decade.

The youth is not benefitting from the country’s supposed growth and doesn’t anticipate the fulfillment of those promises given the pervasive nepotism and crony capitalism that underpins Ethiopia’s developmentalism.

Courtesy: OPride

Courtesy: OPride

The ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) came to power in 1991 and briefly experimented with democratic transition. However, a little over a decade into its rule, the party’s former strongman, the late Meles Zenawi, realized that their pretentious experiment with liberal democracy was not working. Zenawi then crafted a dubious concept called, “developmental state.”

Stripped of the accompanying jargon and undue sophistication, Zenawi was simply saying that he had abandoned the democratic route but would seek legitimacy through economic development guided by a strong hand of the state. This was a ploy, the last ditch attempt to extend EPRDF’s rule indefinitely.

Using fabricated economic data to seek legitimacy and attract foreign direct investments, the regime then advanced narratives about its double-digit economic growth, described with such catchphrases as Ethiopia rising, the fastest growing economy in the world and African lioness. The claims that EPRDF has delivered economic growth at miraculous scales has always been reported with a reminder that it takes several decades to build democratic governance. The underlining assumption was that, as long as they deliver economic growth, Ethiopia’s leaders could be excused on the lack of democracy and human rights abuses associated with the need for government intervention in the economy.

EPRDF spent millions to retain the services of expensive and well-connected Western lobbying firms to promote this narrative and create a positive image of the country. These investments were also accompanied with a tight grip on the local media, including depriving foreign reporters’ access if they cross the government line. Ethiopia’s communication apparatus was so successful that even serious reporters and analysts started to accept and promote EPRDF’s narrative on rapid economic growth.

However, a few recent events have tested the truthfulness of Ethiopia’s economic rise. Drought and the resulting famine remain the Achilles heels of the EPRDF government. The government can manipulate data on any other sector, including the aggregate Gross Domestic Product, and get away with it, but agriculture is a tricky sector whose output is not so easy to lie about. The proof lies in the availability of food in the market, providing the absolute minimum subsistence for the rural and urban population.

The sudden translation of drought into famine raises serious questions.  For example, it is proving difficult to reconcile the country’s double-digit economic growth with the fact that about 15 million Ethiopians are currently in need of emergency food aid.

Rampant famine

Except for some gullible foreign reporters or parachute consultants, who visit Addis Ababa and depart within days, serious analysts and students of Ethiopian economy know that authorities have often fabricated economic statistics in order to generate fake GDP growth.  To the trained eye, it does not take a lot to find inconsistencies in the data series. In fact, Ethiopia’s economic growth calculus is so reminiscent of Enron accounting.  (See my recent pieces questioning EPRDF’s economic policies, including anomalies in the alleged achievements of millennium development goals, crony businesses, devaluation, external tradeand finance.)

The tacit understanding in using GDP as a measure of economic growth is that responsible governments generate such data by applying viable international standards and subjecting the data to scrutiny and consistency checks.

Unfortunately, these standards are not foolproof; irresponsible governments with mischievous motives can abuse them. There is credible evidence that shows Ethiopian authorities deliberately inflated economic statistics to promote feel-good, success stories.

Let’s take the agricultural data, which is timely and topical given the ongoing famine. This came to light recently as the European Union tried to understand anomalies in Ethiopia’s grain market, particularly persistent food inflation which the EU found incompatible with the agricultural output reported by the Central Statistical Authority (CSA) of Ethiopia.

The EU’s Joint Research Centre (JRC) then developed the technical specification for studying the scope of the Cereal Availability Study in order to account for the developments in the Ethiopian cereal markets. The International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) was selected to carry out the study.

ethiopiagraph_images_growth1Figure 1 (above) compares the EU-sponsored survey and the Ethiopian government’s survey produced by the CSA. I am using the data for 2007/08 for comparison. The negative numbers indicate that the IFPRI estimates were consistently lower than the CSA data. For instance, CSA overstated cereal production by 34 percent on average.  This ranged from 29 percent for maize to 44 percent for sorghum. The actual amount of Teff produced is lower by a third of what’s reported by the CSA.

The research team sought to explain this “puzzle” by examining the sources of the confusion, the methodological flaws that might have led CSA to generate such exaggerated economic data. Toward that end, they compared CSA’s crop yield estimates with comparable data from three neighboring countries:  Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda (see Figure 2).

ethiopiagraph_images_growth2

From 2000 to 2007, the average increase in cereal yield for these countries, including Ethiopia, was 19 percent. Yet the CSA reported a whopping 66 percent for Ethiopia’s yield growth. The country was not experiencing an agricultural revolution to justify such phenomenal growth.  It is unrealistic that Ethiopia’s yield growth would be greater than the neighboring East African countries, particularly Kenya, where the agricultural sector is at a much more advanced stage. If anything, the reality in Ethiopia is closer to Uganda, which did not report any yield increase during that period.

This reveals the extents of data manipulation by Ethiopian authorities to create an inexistent economic success story and seeks political legitimacy using a bogus record. We now know the widespread distortions in official statistics on cereal production thanks, in no small part, to EU’s intervention in sponsoring a study and explaining the disparities. Cereals represent only a sub-sector in the agricultural realm. It is likely that worse distortions would be revealed if similar studies were done on Ethiopia’s growth statistics in other sectors, including manufacturing and service divisions.

‘Poverty reduction’

The IMF has praised Ethiopia for achieving accelerated growth with a focus on equity and poverty reduction, a challenging dilemma for most countries. However, a closer look at three interconnected facts turns this claim on its head.

First, as noted above, Ethiopia’s agricultural output has been inflated by 34 percent on average. Second, a33 percent poverty reduction since 2000 is widely reported. Third, there is a consensus that poverty reduction has happened mostly in rural Ethiopia. Now we put these three facts together and apply a simple logic to establish that the 33 percent poverty reduction is explained by the 34 percent exaggerated agricultural outputs. Notice that it is not by accident that the two percentage points are almost identical. Therefore, the ups and downs cancel each other out. In the best-case scenario, poverty rate must remain at the same level as in 2000.

The World Bank, IMF and other donors have often anchored their conclusions on poverty reduction on alleged changes in the agricultural sector, where the bulk of the poor live and work. Little do they know that the data they used to compute the poverty index comes from agricultural statistics with hugely inflated yield assumptions as shown above.

This raises the question: where has the billions of dollars in bilateral and multilateral aid pumped into Ethiopia in the name of poverty reduction and the millennium development goals gone?

‘The enclave economy’

The ‘Ethiopia rising’ storyline is a standard set by foreign correspondents who often repurpose official government press releases, or reports based on the construction projects in the capital, Addis Ababa.

For example, Bloomberg Africa’s William Davison, often uses the proliferating high-rise buildings in Addis Ababa as tangible evidence of Ethiopia’s double-digit economic growth. In his latest whitewash, Davison writes, “such growth is already visible in parts of the capital, where shopping malls and luxury hotels are sprouting up.” That a veteran reporter for a business website unashamedly passes judgment on economic success by referring to heights and width of buildings underscores his shallow understanding of the country’s social and political fabric.

Here are some of the questions that reporters aren’t asking and seeking answers for:  Who owns those building?  Where did the investment money come from?  Are there any firm linkages between these physical infrastructures and the rest of the Ethiopian economy? I have partially answered some of these questions in a previous piece and will soon provide additional insights.

For now, I would like to draw attention to the existence of an “enclave economy” within the mainstream Ethiopian economy. This enclave is made up of highly interconnected crony businesses, which are owned and operated by Tigrean elites, who also have a tight grip on the political and military command structures. Take, for example, the Endowment Fund for Rehabilitation of Tigray (EFFORT), a business conglomerate affiliated with the Tigrean People’s Liberation Front (TPLF). EFFORT has its humble origin in the relief and rehabilitation arm of the TPLF. However, it has undergone amorphous growth and now controls the commanding heights of the Ethiopian economy. By some estimates, EFFORT now controls more than 66 business entities.

The EFFORT controlled enclave and related military engineering complexes have created a semi-autonomous economy in Ethiopia. They made smart choices and specialized in engineering and construction businesses. This means they do not have to rely on the Ethiopian public for their products; instead, each specialize in separate industrial branches and buy from each other and also sell to the government, which is also in their hand. The huge government infrastructural projects necessitated by the “developmental state” model create business opportunities for these engineering companies.

The enclave economy is only loosely linked to the mainstream economy and it does not benefit the bulk of the Ethiopian people in any meaningful way. The luxury hotels and supermarkets that Davison refers to cater for the needs of the affluent business classes, their families, and the expatriate community.

In other words, Ethiopia’s miraculous economic growth, if it in fact exists, must have happened only in the enclave economy. Statistically, it is possible to generate a double-digit economic growth at the national level through a combination of some real astronomical growth in the enclave component and stagnation or declines hidden, through some accounting tricks, in the rest of the economy.

Lock-in style of reporting

Unfortunately, the unquestioned reporting on Ethiopia’s economic success has continued. Even the EU study appears to have been shelved, or deliberately ignored despite the significant findings. Even as a fifth of the population is in need of emergency aid, the World Bank is sticking with the outdated data and has recently released a sensationalized report entitled “Ethiopia’s Great Run: the growth acceleration and how to pace it.”

The ensuing famine has shaken the foundation of Ethiopia’s growth narrative, yet western NGOs and media outlets appear to suffer from the lock-in effect in adopting consistent storylines. They continue to link and refer to the World Bank, IMF and others reports and indexes by multilateral organizations.

That’s why we continue to see comical headlines such as “Ethiopian Drought Threatens Growth as Cattle Die, Crops Fail,” which assumes that Ethiopia’s growth is actually occurring. This acquiescence does not only display ignorance, but it also underscores an effort to evade accountability for previous mistakes and failure to report accurate information.

In a recent interview with The Ethiopian Reporter, Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn made a rare and fateful admission: “if we crave for too much praise for our achievements, we might run the risk of undermining the challenges we are facing. These challenges could grow bigger and become irreversible and that would be detrimental.”

Over the past 25 years, the EPRDF worked tirelessly to create a distorted image of the country and began craving and lobbying foreigners for praises.

Enron’s success involved an elaborate scam, but the firm was named “America’s Most Innovative Company” for six consecutive years. This fame did not stop Enron from crumbling. EPRDF’s fate will not be any different. The Oromo uprising has already started the unraveling of its elaborate scams devised to attain legitimacy on the back of non-existent economic and democratic advancement.

 J. Bonsa is a researcher based in Asia.

 

This article was first published on OPride.

 

http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/africaatlse/2015/12/24/ethiopias-fake-economic-growth-borrows-from-enrons-accounting/

What are the real causes of the Ethiopian ‘famine’? December 27, 2015

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Odaa OromooThe grim reality behind 'Ethiopia rise' hypeFamine Ethiopia 2015 BBC report

 

The mood within the power circle is one of relaxation…One can hardly find the sense of urgency expected…The response system remains fragmented. There is no functioning integration between risk assessment units, response institutions, local administrations and federal level units… The whole response system seems to host great inefficiency[16].

The credo was: the country has its own capacity to deal with the crisis; the government has enough food stock[7]. Redwan Hussein was categorical: “We are able to feed ourselves”.[8]The Prime Minister and Chairman of the ruling party, Haile Mariam Dessalegn, repeated such statements word by word[9].

But one month later, Redwan Hussein acknowledged that the recent rise in the number of victims calls for an urgent foreign assistance. “Although the government can tackle the problem by diverting the budget allocated for development, it needs international assistance so that the on-going pace of development would not be hampered[10]. And even more: the government is now complaining that the donors “have already promised so much, but they have delivered practically nothing. The government is working alone[11]. Even more: the government is now complaining that the donors “have already promised so much, but they have delivered practically nothing. The government is working alone”.

This provoked strong reactions. “Enough is enough… It is embarrassing and humiliating indeed to observe our smartly dressed leaders scuttling from one donor meeting into another with their begging bowls… It surely should not be beyond Ethiopia’s capacity to handle minor droughts without the necessity for the degrading foreign aid… By running to the UN for help, the EPRDF – the ruling party – has gravely injured the positive image of the country[12].

The designated culprit is the drought, attributed to the climatic El Nino phenomena. Meteorological experts have confirmed it is the worst in the last two or three decades. However, this kind of crisis is recurrent. The sequence of bad rain seasons leading to bad harvests leading to a food crisis is unstoppable in a country where 98% of the agriculture remains rain fed.

It is highly probable that sooner or later TV screens will show us crying children with emaciated faces and  balloon stomachs. The viewers will be convinced that once more famine and Ethiopia form a diabolical duo[13].  But there is always and at any time at least one place in Ethiopia where a camera could catch such a worrying scene. Does it mean that Ethiopia’s old evils have once again risen to the surface?

First, the apocalyptical famines of 1972-73 and 1984-85 left hundreds thousands of deaths, probably around 200,000 and 400,000 respectively. Now, whether real famine pockets have developed here and there remains to be seen – usually the stage of famine is considered reached when a significant number of adults start to die from hunger. In any case the possible death toll would have nothing to do with these previous figures.

Second, the official growth of the cereals production, and therefore the agricultural development action of the government are rightly the subject of enquiry. Last year, the official figure for the cereals’ harvest has been 27 million of tons for a population close to 100 million, that is to say 270 kg/person/year. Even with a high range estimate of post-harvest losses and reserve of future seeds, this left a per person consumption availability of basic food well above the required 180 kilo per year. Given these figures, Ethiopia should be overflowing with locally available surpluses.

The food market prices have remained relatively stable, and within the range of the global inflation. For example, the wholesale price of sorghum and maize in Addis Ababa are stable compared to one year ago, wheat has increased by 7% and decreased by 3% since its summer peak, teff, the most locally prized cereal, has increased by 13%[14]. But one should be aware that during former similar crises, the crops inflation started at the beginning of the following year.

But in any case, to attribute food shortages to a shortfall in the whole agricultural production cycle is misleading.

At least half of the Ethiopian farmers are net buyers of their own household food consumption thanks to extra-farm incomes. In bad years, their production drops, and they would need more money to respond to their needs. But bad years also mean less agricultural daily labour, well less paid, while this represents usually the main source of cash for the poorest. Thus, they face a food shortage not because the market is lacking, but because they cannot afford to buy it. Thus, they face a food shortage not because the market is lacking, but because they cannot afford to buy it. Amartya Sen has perfectly demonstrated this mechanism for the 1943 Bengal famine in India.

Third, the early warning systems have operated relatively properly, even if they need to be improved, after having been launched more than a decade ago.

Fourth, the so-called biblical famines of 1972-73 and 1984-85 were deliberately hidden so as to preserve the image of the imperial regime or of the Derg military junta. Even more recently, in 2008-2009, both the authorities and the donor community publicly denied the acuteness of the food crisis for three to four months, thus leading to a corresponding delay in the aid delivery.[15] Again, the reaction of the authorities is under strong criticism here and there. “The mood within the power circle is one of relaxation…One can hardly find the sense of urgency expected…The response system remains fragmented. There is no functioning integration between risk assessment units, response institutions, local administrations and federal level units… The whole response system seems to host great inefficiency[16].

Interviewed under conditions of anonymity

International experts who deal with food crisis year on year don’t share this point of view, even when they go off the record and far from being apologists of the regime. Their general opinion is that the government has efficiently performed vis-à-vis the crisis, both in terms of volume and organisation. Aid officials and NGO’s leaders, interviewed under conditions of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue for the authorities, reached the same conclusion[17].

For them, the authorities have reacted faster and more vigorously than during any of the previous crisis. Above all, their level of assistance is beyond comparison with those of the past. For the first time, they have drawn on the national and regional budgets to put on the table first a tiny 33 million US dollars, second around 200 millions of the 600 million needed at that time, and just now an additional 97 million[18].

This represents around 3% of the whole budget, and 9% of the investment budget. Haile Mariam Dessalegn travelled to the affected areas in the Somali region at the end of October, and almost all regional high officials also did this. The concerned state departments are fully mobilized, including and even more in the regions. When the head of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in Ethiopia said that “the leadership and commitment of the government in driving its response to the impact of the El-Nino phenomenon on food security in affected areas has been exceptional[19], this statement is not only diplomatically motivated. When Addis Standard writes: “The trend of not admitting on time to a looming drought hasn’t improved over the last four decades since 1974[20] – the weekly is wrong.

It is obvious that the ruling power does not want the age-old dramatic images of starvation and the dead aired again all over the world. Reports have proven that, at least locally, a lot is done to hide the drama and even to silence the victims[21]. But trying to minimize the publicity about the food shortages, which the authorities do with a patent clumsiness, must not be mixed up with trying to withhold information of a crisis.

Fifth, the worst is highly probably to come. There is no doubt that the summer rains season in many parts of the highlands were insufficient and erratic, including in some of the most productive areas, and that the main harvest has been affected as a result. The crisis can only deepen until at best the small spring harvest and, more possibly the main production next autumn.

Controlling the crisis

Now the key question is: facing unprecedented growing needs, could the authorities – and the donors – continue to upgrade their response capacities, and thus maintain the crisis under control? Now the key question is: facing unprecedented growing needs, could the authorities – and the donors – continue to upgrade their response capacities, and thus maintain the crisis under control?

Some argue that the latter seem now to have reached their limits. The State Minister for Agriculture and Secretary of the National Disaster Prevention and Preparedness Committee Mitiku Kassa stated: “You can build resilience, but when conditions are bad enough, so severe – and we’re seeing the perfect storm – these resilience systems are overawed”. He added: “The international community is not in a position to respond to our crisis[22].

200,000 tons of food are on their way to Ethiopia. 600,000 tons have just been ordered. A bid for one million tons will soon be called for. The aim is not only to feed the starving people, but also to prevent a sky-rocketing in food prizes.

Where could the money come from to buy on the international market? First, Ethiopia’s lack of foreign currencies is chronic. It seems the World Bank and the African Development Bank are willing to give a hand. But other donors are more reluctant, and some of them even condition their further financial effort on the same move by the Ethiopian government.

The minimum delay between a bid and the effective distribution of the food at a village level is five months. The only solution to feel the gap in between is to dip into the available local reserves. But again: who will pay? At this stage, some donor organizations will be short of food to distribute in January in some areas.

Finally, the logistic bottlenecks. Most of the importation of Ethiopia transits through Djibouti port. It manages usually around 500,000 tons per month. Can it deal with an additional 2 million tons, and with what kinds of delay?

Sixth, Ethiopia is expected to become a middle level income country in 2025. Could the continuous foreseen growth of the Ethiopian economy, including the agricultural sector, progressively absorb these perennial food crises? The answer looks rather grim.

First, the cereal production has officially tripled during the last fifteen years. Even if this figures is highly questionable, the per capita production has substantially increased for sure. But the percentage of people suffering from the droughts has remained stable: around 20% in 2001-2002, around 15% in 2007-2008, around 20% now. “The poorest 15 percent of the population experienced a decline in well-being in 2005-11 mainly as a result of high food prices ».[23]  “Graduation from the Safety Net Program has been short of expectation[24].

The number of people who succeeded in increasing their assets enough to live without perennial aid has not exceeded a small percentage. So the hard core of the poorest farmers, the food insecure people, chronically vulnerable to any climate shock, has not been significantly alleviated.

Prospects

The present agricultural development policy does not seem to be appropriate to reverse this trend. At the grass roots level, when asked why this hard core of poverty remains, and even extends, the local authorities and development agents respond: “because these farmers do not follow our development advice”. When asked why they cannot escape from poverty, these poor farmers reply: “because the development programme does not fit our needs and means”. Actually, it looks like they are left to their fate.

They even start to complain that a kind of implicit alliance has been formed between the local authorities and the most enterprising farmers – the so called “model farmers” – to endorse this neglect. The former focus their efforts on the latter because they can boast of having better results to their superiors. The latter are the only ones who can rent a land from a poor farmer who is obliged to do so because he is engulfed in a debt spiral when any shock occurs.

The government seems to have validated this status quo. The draft of the Growth and Transformation Plan for 2015/16-2019/20 devotes few words to this destitute hard core. It mentions “strengthening the Productive Safety Net Program” and “providing effective credit facilities and other supplementary and complementary programs… to accelerate the graduation of Programme beneficiaries[25].

But it looks like it doubts itself whether any of these actions would succeed: the food reserve for Food Security, Disaster Prevention and Preparedness, would have to be raised from 400,000 tons now to 3 million tons, which could be reduced to a little bit to more than one million tons in the finalised Plan[26].

Finally, the same scapegoat is selected as always. “The right to ownership of rural and urban land… is exclusively vested in the State and in the peoples of Ethiopia”, states the Constitution. Thus, the land tenure system, because it forbids sales, leases and mortgages, because it allows eviction for public interests, would be the main culprit for low production and thus for the food shortages in case of crisis. The only solution would be privatisation. But the land tenure security is now largely assured through the new 30 years land certificates. De facto, a mechanism of leasing has been put in place which allows land to be rented for cash or through a share cropping agreement. Privatisation would worsen the situation of the poorest farmers.

In the case of drought, they inevitably fall in debt. If a land market existed, their only choice would be to sell their last asset, their land, with very few possibilities of being employed either locally or in the urban areas, because the available workforce outnumbers the needs. They would simply join the growing rural lumpen proletariat – who is precisely the main food aid seeker.

 

 

 

 

 

Read more at original source:-

Source: What are the real causes of the Ethiopian ‘famine’?

Ethiopia Faces Worst Drought/ Famine in 50 Years, Millions Affected December 9, 2015

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???????????Famine Ethiopia 2015 BBC report

Drought, food crisis and famine in Afar state captured through social media, August 2015Famine in Ethiopia 2015

 

 

Ethiopia Faces Worst Drought in 50 Years, Millions Affected
By William Davison,  bloomberg.com  December 7, 2015

 
A worsening drought in Ethiopia means 10.1 million people, a 10th of the population, are facing food shortages next year in the Horn of Africa nation, Save the Children said.
The figure is an increase of 1.9 million people from the number the government says currently requires food aid. The assessment means 400,000 children are at risk of severe malnutrition in 2016, the London-based charity said in an e-mailed statement on Monday.
“The worst drought in Ethiopia for 50 years is happening right now, with the overall emergency response estimated to cost $1.4 billion,” said John Graham, Save the Children’s Ethiopia country director.
Ethiopia’s government has allocated $192 million for the crisis and received $163 million from donors since an appeal for $340 million in October, said Mitiku Kassa, who heads the government’s disaster response team.
Another 8 million vulnerable Ethiopians will receive food and cash transfers during the first six months of next year under a mostly donor-funded aid program.
Low rainfall this year had a “devastating effect” on agricultural production, with the next harvest not expected until June, the charity said. Ethiopia’s government has said the drought will not affect official growth rates of about 10 percent a year, despite rain-fed agriculture accounting for almost 40 percent of the economy.

https://oromianeconomist.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post-new.php

 

Ethiopia: Humanitarian Snapshot (as of 4 December 2015)

 

Ethiopia, Humantarian Snapshot as of December 7, 2015, UN

 

 

http://reliefweb.int/sites/reliefweb.int/files/resources/snapshot%20Dec%204%20%281%29.pdf

 

ETHIOPIA RESPONDING TO AN EL NIÑO-INDUCED DROUGHT EMERGENCY:

The El Niño global climactic event has wreaked havoc on Ethiopia’s summer rains. This comes on the heels of failed spring rains, and has driven food insecurity, malnutrition and water shortages in affected areas of the country. A well-coordinated response is already underway and Trends in Severe Acute Malnutrition expanding rapidly, although the scale of the developing admission (2011-2015)3 emergency exceeds resources available to date. Given the lead in thousands times necessary for the procurement of relief items, the Government and its international partners have called for early 40 action to this slow onset natural disaster.

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs

http://reliefweb.int/sites/reliefweb.int/files/resources/snapshot%20Dec%204%20%281%29.pdf

 

Related:-

Ethiopia’s worst drought in 50 years – over 10 million need food

https://martinplaut.wordpress.com/2015/12/07/ethiopias-worst-drought-in-50-years-over-10-million-need-food/

 

 

Bloomberg Business: Ethiopia Sees Nationwide Power Cuts While Drought Dries Dams December 1, 2015

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???????????Famine in Ethiopia 2015Energy Consumption, disconnected Africa6

Ethiopia may face further power shortages because of low water levels at dams after a poor rainy season, an official said, following two days of sporadic cuts caused by technical faults at hydropower plants.

Unspecified issues at a substation serving Oromia region’s Gibe 1 and 2 plants, which together can produce as much as 604 megawatts, and a shutdown at the 320-megawatt Tana Beles installation in Amhara state, caused the outages on Nov. 28-29, Ministry of Water, Irrigation and Energy spokesman Bezuneh Tolcha said Monday by phone.

The drought affecting the east of the country that’s left 8.2 million Ethiopians in need of food aid wasn’t related to the outages, though that may change in the coming months unless there’s non-seasonal rainfall, he said.

“There has been a shortage of rain all over country,” he said from the capital, Addis Ababa. “The dams have not collected as much water as they can collect.”

Growth in Ethiopia, Africa’s second-most populous nation and largest coffee producer, was 8.7 percent last year and may be 8.1 percent this fiscal year, according to the International Monetary Fund. The drought threatens to crimp economic expansion in a country where 39 percent of output stems from agriculture, about 90 percent of which relies on rain.

Water Shortages

The 300-megawatt capacity Tekeze Hydropower Project in the drought-affected Tigray region is producing only 10 megawatts, Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn was cited as saying in an interview with The Reporter, an Addis Ababa-based newspaper, published on Nov. 28.

Two months after the end of the main rainy season, there are severe water shortages at the country’s oldest dam at Koka on the Awash River, which can generate 42 megawatts, and the 153-megawatt Melka Wakena on the Wabe Shabelle in east Oromia, Hailemariam said.

Over 94 percent of Ethiopia’s electricity was generated by hydropower in the last quarter of the fiscal year that ended July 7, and production increased 3.5 percent to 2,300 gigawatt hours compared with the year before, according to central bank data. The first two turbines from the 1,870-megawatt Gibe III plant have started producing power, Bezuneh said, without giving details.

The construction of Africa’s largest power station, the 6,000-megawatt Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, is scheduled for completion in mid-2017 and it may annually produce as much as 15,860 gigawatt-hours of electricity.

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-12-01/ethiopia-sees-nationwide-power-cuts-while-drought-dries-dams

Leelloo: Hongeen Biyya Xoophiyaa Akka Malee Hammaatera December 1, 2015

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Leelloo, Afaan Oromoo newspaper, 2nd issue

 

Hongeen Biyya Xoophiyaa Akka Malee Hammaatera.

Leelloo: Waggaa 1ffaa Jildii 2 Jimaata Sadaasa 27,2015, Finfinnee, Oromia

Qilleensi Tuujii paasifik yookaan El-niinoo jedhamu biyyoota Afrikaa gama Kibbaafi Gaanfa Afrikaa hongee jabaan miidhaa akka jiruufi gara fuulduratti illee miidhaa hamaa geessisuu akka danda’u dhaabbileen kanneen akka Raaga Haala Qilleensaa, Ogeeyyiin Qonnaafi Dhaabbileen Gargaarsa Addunyaa ifa taasisaa jiru. Hongeen bara kana Xoophiyaa mudate kan bara 1977 ykn 1984’n ol ta’uu akka malu gabaasonni adda addaa mul’isaa jiru. Bara mootummoota laman darbanii, H/silaaseefi Dargii yeroo hongeen akka malee uummata miidhaa ture qaamni mootummaa dhimmicha dhoksaa akka ture ni beekama. Bara kanas mootummaan ji’oottan darban keessa haala hongee sanaa dhoksaa tureera. Bara mootummaa H/Silaasee yeroo uummanni biyyattii gara Kaabaa hongee hamaadhaan rukutamanii beela’aa jiranitti Tafarii Mokonnon waggaa 80ffaa isaanii kabajataa turan. Dargiinis 1984 tti yeroo uummanni waan afaanitti deefatu dhabetti ayyaanaa adda adda kabajachuutti ko’oomatanii turan jedhama. Bara kanas yerootti uummanni beelan waadamaa jirutti mootummaan ayyaana hundeeffamaa, ayyaana menxersoo jechuudhaan qarshii meeqa dhangalaasaa jiraachuunsaa uummata biyyattii biraa komii jabaa kaasaa jira. Oromiyaa naannoolee addaaddaattis hongeen kun uummataafi beeladarra haalan miidhaa geessisaa jira. Keessumattuu naannoolee tifkateen bulaafi bakkeewwan amala gammoojjummaa qaban keessatti rakkoon hongee sun miidhaa jabaa dhaqqabsiisee jira.

Read more at:-

 

leelloo-2nd-edition-updated-22-1

 

 

Related:-

 

Caama Godina Arsii Lixaa Mudate

VOA Afaan Oromoo, Sadaasa 30 Bara 2015

Jijjirama qilleensaa mudateen Itiyoophiyaa keessatti uummanni Miliyoona 8 ta’u gargaarsi nyaataa kan isa barbaachisu ta’uu jaarmayoonni adda addaa beeksisaa jiru. Jiraattonni Godina Arsii Lixaa akka ibsantti caamni yeroo mudatu kun kan jalqabaa miti jedhu. Kan baranaa garuu daran hamaa ta’uu dubbatu. Midhaan facaafatan sababaa roobni dhabameef karaatti hafuu isaa fi erga roobni xiqqaan argame booda kan facaafatanis hagas mara oomisha argamsisee hin qabu jedhu.

Ta’us garuu gargaarsa mootummaan barana raabse tokko iyyu hin jiru jedhan. Gama kaaniin bulchaan godina Arsii Lixaa Obbo Abaadir Abdaa gargaarsi raabsamaa jiraa caamni humnaan ol ta’e hin jiru jedhu.

Gaaffii fi deebii geggeeffame dhaggeeffadhaa

http://www.voaafaanoromoo.com/content/ethiopia-drought-oromia/3080463.html

On Ethiopian Famine 2015/2016:Despite its higher severity in terms of intensity and magnitude as compared to similar humanitarian crises in recent time, the current hunger in Ethiopia doesn’t receive adequate response yet from national and international aid organizations. November 23, 2015

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???????????Ethiopia in 2015, catatrphic famine, over 15 million people affectedFamine in Ethiopia 2015Famine Ethiopia 2015 BBC report

On Ethiopian Hunger 2015

By  Tolera Fikru Gemta,  Social Media  (Facebook)

Despite its higher severity in terms of intensity and magnitude as compared to similar humanitarian crises in recent time, the current hunger in Ethiopia doesn’t receive adequate response yet from national and international aid organizations. Though good news are coming about bilateral aid support from U.S and certain EU members, the INGOs which have got ample experience in the area of humanitarian responses in the country are either still on the stage of preparation or did not yet plan to respond. The irresponsible position of the ruling party-EPRDF – that claimed the drought would not be beyond government capacity- might have contributed for the late and/ or no response acts of the aid organizations.

Moreover, Aid organizations become more curious about their mandate/roles and forced to operate under strict precaution (even in the case of emergency interventions) since the new civil society law enacted in the year 2009- that explicitly prohibited them to undertake any right based projects. The critical question usually asked by the practitioners goes, “is there any thing as such which can not be a right in the development endeavor? be it education, livelihood, economic empowerment or emergency food support?”. The ruling elites have never wanted to properly address such confusions emanated from their notorious enactment, as their main intention is to narrow dawn the space of civil society in Ethiopia’s political engagements.

Whatever the reasons, the emergency response support to millions who are severely affected by the disaster is already delaying. The results of such irresponsible acts might claim the lives of the vulnerable groups, if the trend continues so. The internationally accepted “Humanitarian” principles and standards are being compromised in Ethiopia due political irresponsibility in the ruling elites and lack of adequate sensitivity in the aid sector. The hunger incident has already severely affected the life of 15 million people through putting at least six regional states in “red level” hot spot situation. Oromia regional state having more than 125 most affected districts is leading in the humanitarian crisis. It should be noted that the recurrent drought crisis is proportionally shifting to South of the country during the recent incidents.

The claimed “food aid” through various government owned mechanisms do not address the need of all affected communities fairly and equally mainly due to autocratic political acts. The target community/ localities that showed their support to opposition forces during the recent national election 2015, for instant, would be discriminated by blind cadres during such government based aid support. Denial of such food aid-humanitarian support- to certain severely affected households due to failing to pay membership fee for OPDO- ruling party in Oromia region- was also observed in some areas.

Thus, alternative emergency response interventions should be in placed immediately. The Aid Organizations (INGOs) and other national civil society organizations as well as the entire community should act now, irrespective the prevailing political and bureaucratic challenges.

Related:-

SBO – Sadaasa 22, 2015. Oduu, Qophii Beelaa, Dhimmoota Adda Addaa Irratti Gaaffii fi Deebii Namoota Gara Garaa Waliin Taasifamee fi Qophiilee Biroo

 

 

 

 

Oromia (Harargee Bahaa Aanaa Miidhagaa Tolaa): Gazaxessoonii bayyeen dhaabbiilee sabqunnamtii itoophiyaa irra Godina Harargee Bahaa Aanaa Miidhagaa Tolaa (miidhagaa lolaa) dhaquun waa’ee hoongeefi abaar yeroo isan nama gafachuu barbadaan, Bulchaan Aanaa Miidhagaa namonni akkaa ittii dhihatanii hin dubanne dhorkaa turan. Boodarra garuu nama dhalaa takkaa kanuma warrii Aanaa qopheysee qabanii haseysaan. Isiiniis waan isaan dhooysuu barbadaan osoo hin dhooysiin ittii himtee

https://oromianeconomist.wordpress.com/2015/11/23/oromia-harargee-bahaa-aanaa-miidhagaa-tolaa-gazaxessoonii-bayyeen-dhaabbiilee-sabqunnamtii-itoophiyaa-irra-godina-harargee-bahaa-aanaa-midhaga-tolaa-miidhagaa-lolaa-dhaquun-waaee-hoonge/

Amharic Program-በኢትዮጵያ በተደጋጋሚ እየተከሰተ ባለው ረሃብ ዙሪያ ከእሸቱ ሆማ እና ግርማ ጉታማ ጋር የተደረግ ወቅታዊ ዉይይት:: Nov. 21, 2015

https://www.oromiamedia.org/2015/11/amharic-program-%E1%89%A0%E1%8A%A2%E1%89%B5%E1%8B%AE%E1%8C%B5%E1%8B%AB-%E1%89%A0%E1%89%B0%E1%8B%B0%E1%8C%8B%E1%8C%8B%E1%88%9A-%E1%8A%A5%E1%8B%A8%E1%89%B0%E1%8A%A8%E1%88%B0%E1%89%B0-%E1%89%A3%E1%88%88/

IRIN: Alarm bells are ringing for a food emergency in Ethiopia. The UN says 15 million people will need help over the coming months. The government, wary of stigma and therefore hesitant to ask for help November 19, 2015

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???????????Ethiopia in 2015, catatrphic famine, over 15 million people affected

 

HOW BAD IS THE DROUGHT IN ETHIOPIA?

IRIN  humanitarian news and Analysis

19 November 2015

Alarm bells are ringing for a food emergency in Ethiopia. The UN says 15 million people will need help over the coming months. The government, wary of stigma and therefore hesitant to ask for help, has nevertheless said more than eight million Ethiopians need food assistance. Extra imports to stem the crisis are already pegged at more than a million tonnes of grain, beyond the government’s means. Inevitably, comment and media coverage compare the current situation with 1984 – the year Ethiopia’s notorious famine hit the headlines. Reports suggest this is the worst drought in 30 years. One declares it a“code red” drought. So how bad actually is it?

The country of close to 100 million people is huge, spread over an area of more than a million square kilometres that ranges from semi-desert to swamp to mountain ranges and fertile farmland. The weather systems and agricultural patterns are diverse and complex. Even within the higher-altitude areas of the country, the most densely populated, the typical rainy seasons vary and crops are grown at different times of the year. This year, the weather has been prone to even greater variation due to the global climate phenomenon El Niño, last seen in 1997-1998.

Ethiopia produces more than 90 percent of its own food. Last year, the cereal harvest was estimated to be 23 million tonnes, but imports in recent years averaged 1.2 million tonnes – just five percent of that. So even if 2015 and 2016 are bad years (the impact of a poor harvest is felt months later as food stocks run out), the vast majority of Ethiopian people will support themselves and eat produce from their own country. But in a giant like Ethiopia, 15 percent of the population is 15 million people – more than the entire humanitarian caseload of the Syrian crisis. An extra five percent of cereals is another 1.2 million tonnes.The costs and logistics become formidable at this scale.

WEATHER

The weather is only one part of the equation in whether people go hungry. Politics, economics, the availability of seeds and fertiliser, conflict, trade and labour markets, population pressure, social habits, and a host of other factors matter too.

While the science and sociology of food security is complex and layered, international agencies working on drought and hunger-prone countries, including Ethiopia, use a scheme called the Integrated Food Security and Humanitarian Phase Classification Framework (IPC) to simplify the mass of underlying data into a five-step scale – from minimal food security pressure to famine. Some parts of northern Ethiopia are already flagged as being in “Phase 4”, one step from the worst category. More are expected to follow, unless sufficient resources can halt the slide.

Even getting a single view of one year’s weather, let alone human interaction with it, is no simple matter.

For more than 30 years, meteorologists have gathered a giant archive of satellite data for Ethiopia. US satellites, in particular METOP-AVHRR, churn out petabytes of data. Triangulating that with other sources, including ground-based measurement, farm assessments, nutrition, and price monitoring provides a rich toolkit to estimate vegetation, rainfall, soil moisture and temperature – ultimately giving an idea of food on the table.

Considering all the variables, the drought and famine watchdog FEWS NET, established in the wake of the 1984 famine, has used direct, but not alarmist, language to describe the prospects: its latest report for Ethiopia is titled “Large-scale food security emergency projected for 2016”. The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization, meanwhile, warned: “food security conditions sharply deteriorated.”

Political sensitivity, donor pressures, logistics, media distortion, inefficiency and scepticism may yet conspire to tip more Ethiopians into “Phase 4.” Even in the best-case scenario, the financial resources will be hard to find – $270m is still needed for 2015 alone, according to UN’s emergency aid coordination body, OCHA, and needs are set to rise sharply (the US, the UK and China have pledged relatively early to the response, according to the government).

To illustrate the complexity of weather patterns in Ethiopia and attempt to demonstrate a link with El Niño, IRIN analysed 30 years of satellite imagery to provide some visual evidence of the complex and erratic picture of weather in the Horn of Africa. Read more in the following link

http://newirin.irinnews.org/dataviz/2015/11/19/how-bad-is-the-drought-in-ethiopia

Famine and the “Ethiopia rising” meme: Can bricks be bread? Can starving children eat a train? November 16, 2015

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???????????Ethiopia in 2015, catatrphic famine, over 15 million people affected

This is Ethiopia in 2015: Over 15 million are like this

Famine Ethiopia 2015 BBC reportFamine in Ethiopia 2015ethi_famine_30_years1414175983

 

 

Despite the “Ethiopia rising” meme, the country remains a place where 30.7% of the population live on less than 1.25$/day ; 88 children out of 1000 live births die every year before they reach the age of 5; 67% of all deaths of children aged under 5 years take place before a child’s first birthday; a total of 34.6% of children are born underweight, while 50.7% are stunted; and Ethiopia is a country which has one of the world’s highest maternal mortality ratios (675 maternal deaths/100 000 live births). In addition, Ethiopia is now facing yet another severe drought and looming famine catastrophe ; the worst it has seen in 30 years and estimated 15 million people will likely need food assistance in 2016. UNICEF figures indicate a 27% increase in the number of children treated for Severe Acute Malnutrition already; 197 woredas had measles outbreaks; 14,300 suspected and 11,700 confirmed measles cases so far. Once again, the international community has started its never ending task of feeding hungry Ethiopians who are failed by their own government.   http://shemsubireda.tumblr.com/post/133198947059/the-ethiopia-rising-meme

The “Ethiopia rising” meme

We have been sold this “Ethiopia rising” meme for years now. The Ethiopian government keeps projecting this narrative 24/7. State media have been preoccupied with plastering images of construction projects and GDP rates on the minds of citizens; and Global “Experts on Africa” have added the “Ethiopia rising” meme to their already existing “Africa rising” meme as well.

The “Ethiopia rising” meme has become pernicious in part because it is half-truth. Construction projects are indeed visibly “booming”. We can at least see the Addis Ababa light rail with our own eyes. Sophisticated international economists tell us the latest GDP figures as well. Local, Bole resident, developmental government minions and cadres echo these GDP figures too; along with their fellow traveler, foreign born drive by reporters who are mostly based in Addis Ababa; They go out on field missions on few occasions and believe new buildings and a new light rail in Addis Ababa is the same as development of an entire country of 94 million people.

For such people, their echo chamber is filled with the “Ethiopia rising” noise. As a result, “Ethiopia rising” is the answer to everything. They have been so primed with this meme that they might even answer the question “What is 1 + 1?” with “Ethiopia rising”. Ask them if bricks can be bread or if starving children can eat a train and they will have no answer. (Or maybe they’ll just answer you with “Ethiopia rising”)

Skeptics of this “Ethiopia rising” meme have always been unwilling to buy into this narrative and refuse to equate Ethiopia’s GDP growth with development. Despite the “Ethiopia rising” meme, the country remains a place where 30.7% of the population live on less than 1.25$/day ; 88 children out of 1000 live births die every year before they reach the age of 5; 67% of all deaths of children aged under 5 years take place before a child’s first birthday; a total of 34.6% of children are born underweight, while 50.7% are stunted; and Ethiopia is a country which has one of the world’s highest maternal mortality ratios (675 maternal deaths/100 000 live births)

In addition, Ethiopia is now facing yet another severe drought and looming famine catastrophe ; the worst it has seen in 30 years and estimated 15 million people will likely need food assistance in 2016. UNICEF figures indicate a 27% increase in the number of children treated for Severe Acute Malnutrition already; 197 woredas had measles outbreaks; 14,300 suspected and 11,700 confirmed measles cases so far. Once again, the international community has started its never ending task of feeding hungry Ethiopians who are failed by their own government; yet another evidence for why the “Ethiopia rising” meme remains half-truth, if not a complete lie.

The extent of lives lost due to the ongoing drought is an unknown know reality for the moment. The government has suppressed report on mortality rates. Although public health information is incomplete without such vital statistics, UNICEF’s situations reports on the current humanitarian crisis bear no mortality rates. Even zero deaths should be reported in well-respected information sources such as the UNICEF. But that’s not the case here. UNICEF seems to have adopted a position that says “If the government says there are no children who died of starvation, then there are not children who died of starvation”. Yet, one BBC report states “The United Nations say two babies are dying of starvation every day in one area”. However, the government insists “No one has died or displaced due to lack of food in the areas affected by the drought”.

Without vital information such as mortality rates from independent sources, given the extent of Ethiopia’s previous famine disasters, previous and current governments’ denial and cover up on the extent of such disasters, and in spite of the “Ethiopia rising” meme, it’s hard to tell how bad the situation is. It might even be comparable with the 1984 famine.

Source: http://shemsubireda.tumblr.com/post/133198947059/the-ethiopia-rising-meme

 

 

 

Related:

Residents in the Afar Region of Ethiopia Talk about the Drought (VOA)

http://amharic.voanews.com/audio/3060337.html

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-34770831?SThisFB

https://oromianeconomist.wordpress.com/2015/08/14/drought-food-crisis-and-famine-in-ethiopia-2015-children-and-adults-are-dying-of-lack-of-food-water-and-malnutrition-animals-are-perishing-of-persisting-drought-the-worst-affected-areas-are-e/