East Africa / Ethiopia / ILRI / Kenya / Pastoralism / Resilience / Somalia / Uganda / Vulnerability

Long-term ‘food aid-plus’ has helped avert famine in Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda–Economist


Children in Kenya’s Watamu District with milk (photo on Flickr by Thomas Blower).

An article in this week’s Economist describes the value of helping communities in the Horn of Africa’s to build resilience to recurrent drought. It is this ‘Food Aid-Plus,’ argues the Economist, that has helped avert famine in southern Ethiopia (seeds), northeastern Kenya (school milk programs) and the Karamoja region of northern Uganda.

‘. . . If the famine lasts until the next rains, that means 100,000-200,000 could be at risk there: a dreadful toll. But 1m people died in the Ethiopian famine of 1984-85. The difference does not lie in the severity of the drought. It lies in what local governments and aid agencies have done to bolster people’s resilience to it.

‘For the past few years the Ethiopian government, the WFP [World Food Programme] and others have been running hunger-relief programmes which give out not only food aid but seeds and help to turn wasteland into productive acres. The result, says Josette Sheeran, the WFP’s boss, is that “we have one-third the number of people suffering from the emergency than we might have done [in Ethiopia].” Kenya has kept its school-meal programme running in the drought-stricken areas, so families know their children will get at least a meal a day. . . Karamoja has had a lot of “food aid-plus” projects and so far is not on the WFP’s list of places in emergency need. Ungoverned Somalia has few such projects. . . .’

Read the whole article at the Economist: Chronicle of a famine foretold, 30 Jul 2011.

Read recommendations by scientists at the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), based in Nairobi, Kenya, on the most practical livestock-based interventions to make in East Africa’s drought cycles.

One thought on “Long-term ‘food aid-plus’ has helped avert famine in Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda–Economist

  1. Note the logo on the box of dairy aid. ‘Brookside’ indicates it is sourced from East Africa. Excellent! Regional sourcing avoids the environmental costs of transporting commodities from rich countries (whose ‘food aid’ often masked surplus disposal of subsidised farming). It rewards farm families in Kenya, building national development – and ability to harbour refugees from drought.

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