The World Food Program (WFP) annual report launched on Wednesday June 11th says despite positive advances Ethiopia has shown in the past it remained one of world’s most food insecure countries.
Over the past decade, a fast growing economy has helped bring the percentage of people living in extreme poverty from 38 per cent down to 29 per cent. However, approximately 30 million people still live below the food poverty line.
Hakan Tongul, WFP Head of Programs, said that in the last two to three years general conditions of food availability in the country have improved although food insecurity still remains problematic. Under the Purchase for Progress (P4P) program which accounts for 46 per cent of the overall food delivery in the country, “WFP have been taking food from western Ethiopia to Eastern.” Mr. Tongul added that majority of the program’s food assistance goes to Somali and Afar regions where the rest of the country gets from government.
With nearly half of Ethiopia’s 13 million children stunted or underweight hunger and related causes account for more than half of all child deaths, or roughly 60,000 every year, according to the report. Extreme poverty in the country leaves two out of every five Ethiopian children stunted impairing their physical and mental development and costs the country 16.5 per cent of its GDP yearly in lost productivity.
“Being the most vulnerable, children hold the greatest potential for double incentives to put them at the heart of our effort,” said Abdou Dieng, WFP Ethiopia Country Director. “However if you look at assisting Ethiopians you can see a very positive trend where there are lots of progresses been made,” he added.
Noting the lessoning of funding from time to time, Mr. Dieng said: “May be the magnitudes of the problems are not the same in here than other countries where there are extreme conflicts.”
The report foresees the most vulnerable and disproportionately affected will remain the rural poor, who account for more than eight out of 10 Ethiopians.
The WFP report valued the state’s Agricultural Transformation Agency (ATA) for embodying a political commitment to achieve the interconnected goals of food security, poverty reduction, and human and economic development.
In 2013 WFP assisted about 5 million people for relief programs through the safety net which is a program that the government in Ethiopia is implementing.
Cover Photo: Abdou Dieng (Center), WFP Ethiopia Country Director
Photo Credit: ©WFP/Melese Awoke