Ethiopia worried over potential famine next year

Oct 8, 2012, ADDIS ABABA (Bikyamasr): Fears are growing in Ethiopia that famine could find its way to the East African country next year in devastating fashion.

Those worries were highlighted in an article by Alemayahu G. Mariam, a leading figure on Ethiopian politics and society, that the country could face a potential devastating famine as early as next year if action is not taken to alleviate the struggles rural areas face as a result of drought.

“For the past several months, there has been much display of public sorrow and grief in Ethiopia,” he began. “But not for the millions of invisible Ethiopians who are suffering and dying from starvation, or what the “experts” euphemistically call ‘acute food insecurity’. These Ethiopians are spread across a large swath of the country.”

According to the international “experts”, he said, “starving people are not really starving. They are just going through ‘scientific’ stages of food deprivation. In stage one or ‘Acute Food Insecurity’, people experience ‘short term instability (‘shocks’) but are able to meet basic food needs without atypical coping strategies.’ In stage two or ‘Stressed’ situations, ‘food consumption is reduced but minimally adequate without having to engage in irreversible coping strategies.’ In stage three or ‘Crises’ mode, the food supply is ‘borderline adequate, with significant food consumption gaps and acute malnutrition.’ In stage four ‘Emergency’, there is ‘extreme food consumption gaps resulting in very high acute malnutrition or excess mortality’. In stage five or ‘Catastrophe’, there is ‘near complete lack of food and/or other basic needs where starvation, death, and destitution are evident.’

“When are people in ‘famine’ situations?” he asked.

But the government is taking notice, and has said that new efforts to combat the growing problem of climate change and its adverse results in Ethiopia are paramount to their success in delivering the desired needs to the people.

Water and Energy Minister Alemayehu Tegenu told a workshop late last month on upgrading hydro-metererological networks that the ministry was looking at boosting data collection, processing and analysis in order to develop new action-plans for the country.

Ethiopia, he said, “is implementing sustainable development in all directions to end poverty.”

He added that the role of the “water and energy sectors in enhancing the country’s development was immense.”

Environment experts present at the workshop told Bikyamasr.com they hoped that the ministry would follow through on the goals, citing recent upsurges in drought and potential famine as a result of climate change.

The Minister said information to be collected regarding the country’s water basins “had paramount importance in enhancing development and attaining Ethiopia’s vision to be a middle income country.”

He said the ministry was “currently operating 489 water gauging stations in 12 river basins of the country. The data collection activities focused on stream flow data, suspended sediment data, ground water depth and quantity and quality.”

According to the ministry, it has a plan to expand the hydrological observation network to satisfy the minimum requirements of the World Meteorological Organization and improve data dissemination with existing technology.

The Director for Food Security and Sustainable Development Division of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) Josue Dione, said at the workshop “the ECA had taken the lead to conceive and establish the knowledge hub and technical secretariat of the ClimDev-Africa program, namely the African Climate Policy Center (ACPC), which has been operational for two years now.”

The ClimDev-Africa program and, therefore, the work of the ACPC, focused on making widely available and disseminating high quality climate information, generating enhanced scientific capacity through analytical work and ensuring informed decision making and effective awareness and advocacy.

–Bikyamasr