2006.05.30: May 30, 2006: Headlines: COS - Ethiopia: COS - Somalia: COS - Madagascar: Relief: Hunger: Speaking Out: Interaction: Ashley Tsongas writes: Ethiopia Lost World’s Focus, but Aid Needs Remain

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Madagascar: Peace Corps Madagascar : The Peace Corps in Madagascar: 2006.03.05: March 5, 2006: Headlines: COS - Madagascar: Women's Issues: Boston Glob: Madagascar RPCV Ashley Tsongas to keynote at Women's Week Breakfast Celebration : 2006.05.30: May 30, 2006: Headlines: COS - Ethiopia: COS - Somalia: COS - Madagascar: Relief: Hunger: Speaking Out: Interaction: Ashley Tsongas writes: Ethiopia Lost World’s Focus, but Aid Needs Remain

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Ashley Tsongas writes: Ethiopia Lost World’s Focus, but Aid Needs Remain

Ashley Tsongas writes: Ethiopia Lost World’s Focus, but Aid Needs Remain

"Two decades after Live Aid drew millions of dollars in donations to help people starving in the Horn of Africa, hunger in Ethiopia is no longer headline news. The focus on other world crises — Darfur, the South Asian tsunami and a myriad of others — has obscured Ethiopia where four million people are in need of emergency assistance." Ashley Tsongas, daughter of Ethiopia RPCV and Presidential candidate Paul Tsongas, is an emergency media and advocacy officer for Oxfam America and served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Madagascar.

Ashley Tsongas writes: Ethiopia Lost World’s Focus, but Aid Needs Remain

Ethiopia Lost World’s Focus, but Aid Needs Remain

Two decades after Live Aid drew millions of dollars in donations to help people starving in the Horn of Africa, hunger in Ethiopia is no longer headline news. The focus on other world crises — Darfur, the South Asian tsunami and a myriad of others — has obscured Ethiopia where four million people are in need of emergency assistance.

Though some areas of Ethiopia reported record harvests this year, droughts in the northern, eastern, and southern regions have decimated livestock herds and ruined crops. Following intermittent years of little rain, this drought, compounded by factors such as poverty and poor infrastructure, has completely overwhelmed many families’ traditional coping methods. It is now threatening their lives and work.

“In 20 years, the starving Ethiopian has gone from cause to cliché,” said Abera Tola, who directs Oxfam International’s humanitarian program in Ethiopia. “Both distort the realities of people here trying to make a living, feed their families, and educate their children. They don’t need pity or press — they need timely assistance to help them get through the next few months.”

Slow Response from the International Community
In December, the Ethiopian government and the United Nations issued a joint appeal for $272 million. Of that sum, $159 million was for food and $113 million was for other forms of emergency assistance, such as health and nutrition, water and sanitation and agricultural support.

By the end of April, donors had met 75 percent of the original food request but barely 27 percent of the other critical needs.

“Food is an important part of an emergency response, but it shouldn’t take priority over other kinds of aid,” said Shannon Scribner, Oxfam’s humanitarian policy advisor. “When there is a food-first bias, people’s health and assets suffer, which in turn contributes to the crisis. Good health and the ability to remain self-reliant are vital buffers in a drought.”
Since the initial appeal, the situation for many people has grown worse. Donations have dribbled in slowly. A new public works program launched by the government to help support an additional five million people in chronic need of food got off to a sluggish start, increasing the burden on the emergency program. Early estimates about the numbers of people affected by the crisis fell short. And now there is concern that high and rising cereal prices will make it even more difficult for people to get food.

New Appeal and Coming Challenges

On May 4, the Ethiopian government issued an appeal for an additional $48 million in emergency assistance, bringing the country’s emergency needs to $320 million. Representatives from donor countries pledged to lobby their governments for additional funds, but have delivered little, especially for water, health and agricultural assistance.

The coming months will be critical, and it is likely the number of people in need of food will again rise. Though the rainy season is due to start in June, crops won’t be ready for harvest until October. Nor will livestock be able to provide herders with food for a while.

“Rain is not an instant miracle,” said Sisay Getachew, a disaster preparedness and management officer for Oxfam. “The positive impact of the rain will not be felt for two to three months, when the cattle, sheep, and goats give birth.

Then people will have milk, meat, and animals to sell. For now, they must be supported in terms of food, water, and health services.”

In January, Oxfam was the one of the first agencies to respond to the non-food needs identified in the initial appeal. In pastoral areas of Afar, livestock were dying by the thousands, depriving herding communities of their primary source of food and income and increasing their vulnerability to future droughts. Working through local partners, Oxfam mobilized indigenous animal specialists to treat more than 400,000 cattle and take other steps to prevent disease. Oxfam is also funding emergency water and agricultural programs and supporting a drought recovery project to assist people in restarting their livestock herds and to reduce vulnerability over the longer term.

Flooding in Somali Region

In the Somali region in southeast Ethiopia, thousands of people are facing a different kind of crisis. Having persevered through six years of drought that severely reduced their herds and plagued them with hunger and thirst, this year was supposed to be easier with predictions of rain.

However, when the rains came they arrived with a vengeance. In addition to replenishing dry wells and growing pasture for the starving cattle, the deluge that began toward the end of April has killed at least 100 people and left tens of thousands of Ethiopians homeless. Oxfam is already working with herders in the region and is planning to help that community recover from flood damage as well as assess other water, sanitation, and health needs in the area.

Ashley Tsongas is an emergency media and advocacy officer for Oxfam America.

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Story Source: Interaction

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Ethiopia; COS - Somalia; COS - Madagascar; Relief; Hunger; Speaking Out


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