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News: WFP implements new strategy to resume aid in Ethiopia after months of suspension

Earlier this year, the WFP halted aid distribution in Ethiopia due to extensive reports of aid diversion occurring on a large scale (Photo: WFP)

Addis Abeba – The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has implemented a new strategy in Ethiopia to resume food assistance for 3.2 million people who have been without aid since June 2023. The nationwide suspension of WFP food distribution earlier this year was a result of reports of widespread diversion of aid.

According to the statement issued by the WFP, the revised approach focuses on transparency, evidence-based targeting, and independent oversight. A key aspect of this model involves digitally registering and verifying vulnerable households through community input, ensuring greater accountability. Additionally, the WFP said it will strengthen commodity tracking from warehouses to final delivery and enhance monitoring and feedback mechanisms to promptly address any potential issues.

“Our teams have been working tirelessly to establish a model that sets a new standard for ethical humanitarian action,” Cindy McCain, the Executive Director of the WFP, stated. “We are now fully dedicated to providing food assistance to Ethiopians in need after a prolonged period without aid.”

This announcement follows successful small-scale test distributions in the Tigray region to evaluate the new systems. With transparency and tracking mechanisms now in place at a regional level, the agency said it will scale up operations across drought- and conflict-affected areas of Afar, Amhara, Somali, and Tigray, targeting over three million people. As the implementation of controls progresses regionally, assistance will gradually expand to additional vulnerable populations, according to the UN agency.

The WFP suspended nationwide food aid in June due to reports of diversions within the Tigray region. However, the WFP reinstated food assistance to almost 900,000 refugees in camps across five Ethiopian regions last month after implementing reforms to refugee aid programs. Ethiopia hosts refugees, primarily from Somalia, South Sudan, and Eritrea.

A few days ago, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) announced the resumption of essential food assistance in Ethiopia, acknowledging comprehensive reforms carried out by the Ethiopian government and humanitarian partners. The decision to reinstate aid comes after a suspension six months ago due to evidence of widespread diversion, ensuring that aid reaches those most in need.

To sustain its operations until April 2024, the WFP urgently requires $178 million in new funding. While initially utilizing existing stocks within the country, additional resources are crucially needed to sustain the lifesaving response amid ongoing humanitarian needs in Ethiopia. The reformed model aims to restore principled aid delivery and humanitarian access for those dependent on food assistance. AS

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