Posted on Monday, 01 February 2016 13:58

UN chief's plea to donors to save Ethiopia

By Tinishu Solomon

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. Photo©ReutersUnited Nations secretary general Ban Ki-Moon has urged the international community to help Ethiopia overcome effects of a devastating drought that has spawned massive food shortages.

Over 10 million Ethiopians are facing severe food shortages this year after the country was hit by an El Nino induced drought.

This challenge may last some time but with continuous concerted efforts, I think we can overcome

"The people of this beautiful country are facing their worst drought in 30 years," Ban told a donors meeting held on the sidelines of the 26th African Union summit held in Addis Ababa last week.

About $1.2 billion is needed for food relief targeting 10.2 million people and only a third of the amount has been raise by donors.

"The impact of El Niño is unpredictable, but experts say it is likely to affect food security for the next two years," Ban said.

"Immediate support for Ethiopia will save lives and avoid preventable suffering. Immediate support will also safeguard the impressive development gains that Ethiopia has made over the past years and decades."

Ban visited a drought-hit region of Ethiopia late Sunday to help raise awareness of the worsening hunger crisis.

"This challenge may last some time but with continuous concerted efforts, I think we can overcome – and I am very much moved to have seen how hard we are working," he said.

The Ethiopian government spent $272 million USD last year on food aid and has allocated $109 million for the same programme so far this year.

Such hefty spending is a huge burden in a country that remains one of the poorest in Africa and where most people rely on subsistence farming.

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