The Humanitarian Response of the United States Government to the Current Ethiopian Drought

As of December 3, 2015

Ambassador Haslach interacting with food aid recipients at Abela Faricho JEOP Food Distribution Center (photo: US Embassy)

Ambassador Haslach interacting with food aid recipients at Abela Faricho JEOP Food Distribution Center (photo: US Embassy – Addis Ababa)

The El Nino has significantly impacted weather patterns in Ethiopia this year, limiting agricultural production, straining livelihoods and exacerbating food insecurity among poor and vulnerable households.  The projected levels of need for emergency food aid in Ethiopia has grown from 2.9 million people in early 2015 to 4.5 million people in August to 8.2 million people as of mid-October.  This number will likely increase with the next Humanitarian Requirements Document (HRD) due out in early December.  As El Nino progresses into 2016, Ethiopia is likely to experience both prolonged drought and intense flooding that will further deteriorate food security.

  • The United States has been very response in helping the Government of Ethiopia provide humanitarian relief for those suffering from the drought.
  • Through USAID, the United States is providing $128.4 million in emergency food assistance for Ethiopians in 2015.  This includes $42.7 million which was provided before the revised HRD came out in August and $85.7 million in additional support in direct response to requests from the Government of Ethiopia.
  • The United States government is currently supporting approximately 3.9 million Ethiopians with emergency food assistance through a consortium of non-governmental organizations and the World Food Program.  That number reflects an increase of over 2.4 million people since January 2015.
  • Additionally, the United States government through USAID provides approximately $100 million annually in support to the Productive Safety Net Programmed (PSNP).

U.S. food assistance contributions have been in direct response to requests from the Government of Ethiopia.  When the HRD was revised upward to 8.2 million people in October 2015, the United States government immediately responded and released approximately 132,000 metric tons of food assistance for Ethiopians.  In addition, the United States government provided 23,000 metric tons of food assistance to help Ethiopia cope with food need among refugees.

Thanks to the early warning and careful tracking of the progression of El Nino in the Horn of Africa, USAID food assistance contributions have been early and significant.  USAID was able to pre-position relief commodities in Ethiopia to meet anticipated increased needs caused by El Nino.

Ethiopia is now better able to cope with this situation than previously due to the improved early warning system, the establishment of the PSNP, and serious engagement by the Government of Ethiopia to analyze and response to the on-going crisis caused by El Nino.  Nevertheless, these are the direst conditions ever recorded in parts of Ethiopia and it is clear that there is an urgent need for all donors to step up and do what they can.

Source: Embassy of the United States, Addis Ababa

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