Famine and Government Neglect in Ethiopia

by Graham Peebles
CounterPunch
Published on January 8,2016

Millions in Need of Food Aid

A shadow of fear and panic is creeping through villages in North Eastern, central and Southern Ethiopia, where once again famine stalks the land. The seasonal rains that usually fall between June and September did not arrive, and now, with the ‘dry season’ here the already severe situation can only deteriorate.

According to the UN, Ethiopia “is experiencing its worst drought in 30 years;” in some areas the poorest, most vulnerable infants are already dying at a rate of two per day.
Around “350,000 children are in need of treatment for severe acute malnutrition,” UNICEF relates, and up to 8.2 million people (out of a population of 95 million) urgently require relief assistance. This number is expected to rise to a staggering 15 million by early 2016.

A villager near Wallo in the north of the country, told the BBC, “although this drought has just started, it’s going to get worse…It’s already really severe. Some people have died of hunger, others are sick in their beds – right now it’s just like 1984,” – when almost half a million people starved to death.

The drought is caused by the El Nino weather system, and has resulted in a 90% reduction in crop yields; the famine, though, is brought about by various factors, some of which are the result of poor governance and State neglect.

El Nino is characterised by warming sea-surface temperatures in the Pacific Ocean, causing “extremes such as scorching weather in some regions of the globe and heavy rains and flooding in others,” Reuter reports. Scientists say it has been with us for millennia, but is intensifying and becoming more frequent due to global climate change; last year’s phenomenon is thought to be one of the worst on record.

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