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Mental Illness in EthiopiaEthiopia is the second most populated country in Africa, with a population of over 100 million. With such a large population comes a prevalence of poverty as well as disease. In an estimate from 2014, around 30% of Ethiopia’s population was below the poverty line. According to statistics from this year, Ethiopia also makes it onto the list of the world’s poorest countries, ranking 7th poorest in the world in both GDP growth and GDP per capita. Along with this poverty comes a myriad of diseases. The top four causes of death in Ethiopia are, in order, neonatal diseases, diarrheal diseases, lower respiratory infections and tuberculosis. While these diseases are quite well-known, Ethiopia is also plagued by another type of disease: mental illness. Mental illness in Ethiopia may not be as recognized as the other diseases that plague Ethiopian citizens but mental illness can impact overall general health and the ability to provide for one’s family.

A Troubled Past

Despite the fact that an estimated 15% of Ethiopians suffer from mental illness and substance abuse disorders, for decades almost nothing was done to address or treat these issues. In the 1980s, there was only one psychiatric hospital in the entire country and such an insignificant number of psychiatrists, that it was almost impossible to find treatment. Moreover, the psychiatrists who did practice at the time were often not interested in developing new research and treatment techniques. Because of this, most cases of mental illness went untreated, leaving mental health sufferers to face both isolation and discrimination.

A Passionate Doctor

When Dr. Atalay Alem started his medical work, there was only one psychiatric hospital in the country. After his decades of work, spanning from the 1980s until modern day, his efforts to improve the psychiatric treatment of Ethiopians have had a massive payoff. He started as a medical doctor before receiving his degree in psychiatry. After that, he became a psychiatric professor at Addis Ababa University, where his research and his passion for better mental health services were instrumental in the expansion of Ethiopia’s mental health care. Alem was also a key founder of the graduate psychiatry program at Addis Ababa University, giving more Ethiopians a chance to make a difference in the field. Today, there are almost 90 psychiatrists practicing in Ethiopia. Apart from these psychiatrists, there are hundreds of psychiatric nurses as well. These nurses are part of what has made such widespread psychiatric care possible and their presence has aided in the addition of mental health services at most Ethiopian hospitals. For his efforts, Alem was awarded the Harvard Award in Psychiatric Epidemiology and Biostatistics in 2019.

A Positive Future

Though Ethiopia has a total of under 100 psychiatrists, the current number is a great improvement from just a few decades ago. Moreover, with the help of Alem and other passionate psychiatrists, research efforts continue to grow. Alem is currently working on a study that looks at the way severe mental illness impacts rural Ethiopian communities in order to evaluate how to improve treatment and maximize impact. The Ethiopian government is also invested in improving the diagnosis and treatment of mental illness. The government, starting seven years ago, created a mental health strategy to aid the country’s mentally ill and allocated government funds to the overall improvement of mental healthcare. These funds have gone toward improving health services, such as more adequate healthcare training and increased access to psychiatric medications. Part of the reason Ethiopia’s mental health treatment has improved so much is due to the partnership between the Ethiopian government and the World Health Organization. WHO was absolutely key in providing guidelines for how to implement these new mental health care strategies.

Though progress always takes time, with the help of doctors like Alem and partnerships with organizations like WHO, Ethiopian mental health care has better days ahead.

Lucia Kenig-Ziesler
Photo: Flickr

Nurses Perform Life Saving Surgery in EthiopiaLess than two billion of the world’s population have access to safe, emergency surgery. Lack of surgical interventions accounts for 32% of deaths worldwide, according to a report published by the Lancet. In rural areas, patients travel long distances and sell belongings to receive the emergency care they need. It is often too late to help them by the time they meet with a specialist. For the first time, nurses were trained to provide life-saving surgery in Ethiopia.

Lack of Access

In countries like Ethiopia, lack of access is primarily due to physician shortage. After training for 10 years, many specialists leave the country for better conditions and pay. The current specialist ratio in Ethiopia is less than 1:100,000. This makes it impossible for the majority of the population to gain access to surgery in Ethiopia.

Training Nurses to Perform Surgery

The Ethiopian government began implementing a novel solution to the problem in 2009. Nurses, midwives and other healthcare workers were trained to provide emergency surgery such as cesarean section, appendectomy and laparotomy. Moreover, in the last decade, thousands of healthcare professionals have graduated from the three years training program. This provided people in rural settings access to surgery in Ethiopia. The majority of surgeries done were cesarean sections, which helped reduce the maternal mortality rate by half in 2015. Nurses or trained surgical officers achieve outcomes comparable to that of surgeons. Some medical professionals believe this is due to the experience of these individuals working on the front lines. They can identify emergencies skillfully and provide effective solutions.

Other Countries Are Doing the Same

Nurses comprise 50% of the global healthcare workforce. Many organizations such as the International Council of Nurses argue that nurses don’t currently work at their full potential. Nursing Now, another organization, believes that by utilizing nurses more, we could reach global health goals faster. Despite successes, skeptics are still concerned that nurses will not be able to deliver healthcare as effectively as traditionally trained physicians. However, other African countries including Mozambique and Tanzania have also started similar programs. Additionally, these programs observed that training midlevel providers to do surgery was a cost-effective method to provide long term care in rural areas. Around 90% of the providers stayed in rural locations after seven years compared with 0% of physicians.

Challenges

Despite the success of nurses in increasing access to surgery in Ethiopia, they are still faced with many challenges. Routine power cuts interrupt surgeries around the country with dangerous consequences. In addition, the shortage of resources such as antibiotics and anesthesia hinders the work of these health care workers. Poor equipment and long waiting times contribute the most to high mortality rates for surgery in Ethiopia and other developing countries. Although emergency surgical workers have expanded the workforce, they do not solve the problem of low resources.

To continue increasing access to surgery in Ethiopia, the country was part of Safe Surgery 2020 in 2015. Safe Surgery 2020 is an initiative that partners with other NGOs to provide life-saving surgery to more of the world’s population in a safe and affordable way. The initiative has taken lessons from training healthcare providers and applied them to Cambodia and Tanzania as well. In addition to training more workers, Safe Surgery 2020 addresses gaps in infrastructure, policy development and research.

Future development programs can support the positive work being done by improving infrastructure and the delivery of resources to rural areas. By training more local experts, more of the world population can have access to basic surgery and healthcare.

Beti Sharew

Photo: Flickr

Ethiopia's GERD
In 2011, Ethiopia announced plans to build the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) in the northwestern region of the country where the Blue Nile starts. As of July 2020, Ethiopia has reached the first-year target for filling the dam. Once finished, Ethiopia’s GERD will be the largest hydroelectric dam in Africa.

This project is the principal focus of the rising nation’s development initiatives. In 1991, the East African country was among the poorest in the world, having weathered a deadly famine and civil war during the 1980s. By 2020, Ethiopia is one of the fastest-growing economies in the world, averaging 9.9% of broad-based growth per year. With the completion of the GERD, the Ethiopian government anticipates joining the handful of middle-income countries by 2025. Here are ten ways Ethiopia’s GERD will help to reduce poverty and transform the country.

10 Ways The GERD Will Transform Ethiopia

  1. The GERD will quadruple the amount of electricity produced in the country. The nation’s electric supply will increase from 1591 MW when plans for the dam were first announced to approximately 6,000 MW once finished.
  2. Millions of Ethiopians will have access to electricity for the first time. Currently, over 66% of Ethiopia’s 115 million citizens lack power. Once operational, the dam will provide electricity to over 76 million Ethiopians.
  3. The surplus electricity produced by the GERD will be a steady source of income. The enormous dam will generate 6000 MW of electricity, which is more than Ethiopia needs. The Ethiopian government expects to export power to neighboring nations, including Djibouti, Eritrea, Kenya, Sudan and South Sudan.
  4. Clean water provided by the GERD will lower the spread of illness. With the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic, access to clean water is a timely concern to Ethiopian officials. Frequent hand-washing is essential to tackling a virus with no vaccine, but this cannot be done without clean water. The Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa has 4.8 million residents, all of whom are well-acquainted with periodic water shortages the city suffers. The completion of the GERD will decrease the risk of contracting COVID-19 and other contagious illnesses.
  5. The dam will greatly reduce sedimentation in the Blue Nile. Sedimentation poses a huge problem for farmers living in the area, as it clogs irrigation channels and hurts the efficiency of hydropower. The GERD will save the costs of building new canals and eliminate the need for new machines to be built.
  6. The GERD will also regulate the Blue Nile’s flow. The dam includes reservoir construction, which will weather the effects of drought and manage flooding during heavier rain seasons. This will provide farmers with a more uniform schedule, rather than being at the mercy of the elements, as it was in the past.
  7. Dam construction is a business that requires tons of manpower. Ethiopia’s GERD is predicted to create 12,000 jobs, which will stimulate both the local and national economy.
  8. The GERD dam will irrigate over 1.2 million acres of arable land. The fertilization of soil will guarantee a successful harvest for millions of farmers. This is crucial to ensuring the growth of Ethiopia’s economy, which is still mostly based in agriculture.
  9. The construction of the dam is transforming formerly arid land to be more useful for the country. The site of the dam was a region of lifeless land about 20km from the Ethiopian-Sudanese border. After the GERD is finished, the artificial lake will hold up to 74 billion cubic meters of water.
  10. Even before the conclusion of the dam’s construction, the GERD will produce electricity. After negotiating talks with Egypt, Ethiopia agreed to extend the filling of the GERD dam from 2-3 years to 5-7. Despite this lengthened timeline, the first of 13 total turbines will be in operation by mid-2021.

With the undertaking of this massive and controversial project, Ethiopia shows it has no intention of stagnating in its goal to reduce poverty. Once Ethiopia’s GERD is completed, Ethiopia’s economy will flourish and the dam will decrease poverty across the nation.

Faven Woldetatyos
Photo: Flickr

Moyee Coffee is Helping Farmers in Ethiopia
The days of poor coffee farmers in Ethiopia receiving underpayment for hard work may soon be over as Moyee Coffee is helping farmers in the country. Moyee, a Dutch coffee brand, is transforming supply chains with blockchain. Moyee begins this process by creating unique digital identities for its coffee producers. Next, it sets prices at 20 percent over the market rate. Buyers can view these prices and choose to support the livelihood of farmers in Ethiopia. The coffee company is also creating an app that allows customers to tip farmers. These business decisions are what make Moyee the first multinational coffee company based in Ethiopia.

Why Coffee is Such a Tough Business

People consume billions of cups of coffee every day and the coffee industry is worth almost $100 billion, yet the producers of the coffee bean are among the world’s poor. Approximately 90 million people who help produce coffee live on less than $2 a day. To put that into perspective, most Americans spend more than $2 a day on a cup of coffee.

A lot of the problems associated with coffee farming and poverty have to do with climate change and price fluctuation. Climate change has altered growing seasons making it difficult to produce good quality crops. Species of coffee are dying out because of deforestation and soon farmlands may become unsuitable to grow coffee. Prices fluctuate often because of supply and demand. The problem is that when climate change damages crop yield, prices can be low which means farmers earn less than they should for their product.

How Blockchain Increases Profits for Farmers in Ethiopia

This is when Fairchain comes in. Fairchain is a version of blockchain that Moyee created. It is a digital supply chain that is completely transparent. The supply chain tracks every transaction from the coffee bean to the coffee cup. This allows blockchain to cut out the middleman and help control price fluctuations. When the supply chain is transparent, people and companies can see how much each chain in the line received to keep prices fair. This is what helps farmers when prices fluctuate dramatically because they get a fair price even when demand is low.

How Moyee Coffee is Helping Farmers

Moyee gives coffee farmers mobile wallets, tap cards, identification numbers and barcodes that allow them to receive payments directly. Moyee also allows customers who buy its coffee to support farmers by using a QR code. The code allows customers to tip the farmer or fund small programs that aid farmers like microloans or training.

The Moyee Brand has a growing impact in Ethiopia by using blockchain to increase profits for coffee farmers. The use of technology has allowed for supply chains to become more transparent. Transparency is key because customers are often unaware of where their product is coming from and how much the producer receives. The increase in profits can help farmers in a variety of ways. Their product yields could increase and they could live a more sustainable lifestyle. Middlemen used to take advantage of farmers and cut their profits, but Moyee is changing that and hopefully, it will serve as a model for other multinational corporations.

Gaurav Shetty
Photo: Flickr

Feed The Future in Ethiopia

USAID began assisting Ethiopia with improvements to food security and nutrition after the country was devasted by a famine-causing drought in the 1970s. Under the Feed the Future program — designed by the Obama Administration — further initiatives have been implemented to ameliorate hunger and improve the economy. Here are five facts about Feed the Future in Ethiopia.

5 Facts About Feed The Future in Ethiopia

  1. Feed the Future symbolizes a commitment to help Ethiopia become a self-sustaining nation. The organization is committed to a detailed short-term plan that is expected to minimize extreme poverty, malnutrition and hunger in the long-run. The plan will assist Ethiopia in its endeavors to become a lower-middle-class country within the next six years.
  2. The plan focuses on agricultural development in Ethiopia. Feed the Future provides farmers with updated “technology and practices,” which encourages productive and sustainable farming in the agriculture-based country. This includes the implementation of a Farm Service Center Project from 2015-2017 to aid in credit access, food security and gender equality. Thanks to the program, 100,000 farmers are able to deploy new, innovative technologies from 20 new private retail farm service centers.
  3. Coffee is a key crop. From January 2018 to April 2019, the organization helped Ethiopia send 6,000 kilograms of dried coffee to Germany and Japan. Feed the Future is focusing on increasing coffee seedling profitability by investing in “wet mills and sun-drying facilities” among smallholder farms. These investments can improve the quality of the seedlings in coffee-producing regions like Amhara and Oromia.
  4. Government cooperation is critical to success. The organization’s improvements to Ethiopia’s agricultural sector complements Addis Ababa’s new Growth and Transformation Plan to improve agriculture and industrialization. Addis Ababa is also partnered with other organizations like the Gates Foundation to further agricultural development.
  5. The organization is helping to reduce poverty. Feed the Future reports a 12 percent decrease in poverty in the areas where the organization has been active over a two year period (2015-2017). Feed the Future programs target efforts in regions where the poverty rate is 35 percent, on average.

Feed the Future is an American investment. Helping another country boost its economy can result in gains for the United States. Today, 11 of the United States’ top trading partners are previous recipients of USAID and hopefully owing to the efforts of Feed the Future and other organizations, one day, Ethiopia can also join these ranks.

– Rebekah Askew
Photo: Flickr

food insecurity in ethiopia
Despite the fact that Ethiopia has a stronger economy than many other countries in the sub-Saharan region of Africa, it still remains one of the world’s least developed countries. In 2017, Ethiopia ranked 173 out of 189 countries and territories in the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Human Development Index (HDI). Food insecurity contributes to a lack of development in Ethiopia.

Drought, Conflict, and IDPs

Drought is one of the principal sources of food insecurity in Ethiopia. Ethiopia is currently suffering from the lingering effects of past droughts. There have been two devastating droughts in Ethiopia since 2015, which has forced many out of their homes in search of food and basic services. Droughts are a primary factor in the creation of internal refugees, or internally displaced person (IDPs) in Ethiopia.

Currently, nearly three million Ethiopians are categorized as IDPs. In addition to drought, the number of IDPs has increased due to a surge in ethnic violence, particularly along the Oromiya-Somali regional border. Nearly 600,000 individuals from the Oromiya and Somali regions have become IDPs.

The combination of drought, displacement, violence and underdevelopment has resulted in widespread food insecurity in Ethiopia. Due to this, roughly 7% of the population relies on food aid. The U.S. Government has been heavily involved in battling food insecurity in Ethiopia. Currently, food insecurity and under-nutrition are two of the greatest economic hindrances in Ethiopia.

Here are five things you need to know about the United States’ involvement in addressing food insecurity in Ethiopia.

5 Ways the U.S. Helps Food Insecurity in Ethiopia

  1. “Feed the Future,” an initiative launched by the Obama Administration in 2010, has been one of the more successful programs in promoting food security in Ethiopia: Feed the Future worked in different areas in Ethiopia from 2013 to 2015 and reduced the prevalence of poverty in those areas by 12 percent. Additionally, in 2017, those who were reached by Feed the Future generated $40 million in agricultural sales and received $5.7 million in new private investment. The economy and food security in Ethiopia are closely intertwined because the nation’s economy is dependent on agriculture. Agriculture-led economic growth, therefore, has been one the primary missions of Feed the Future within Ethiopia.
  2. The US has focused on restoring Ethiopia’s potato and sweet potato supply due to its high source of Vitamin A as a means of reducing food insecurity in Ethiopia: In June 2016, The USAID’s Office of US Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA) supported the International Potato Center (CIP) to assist drought-affected farmers in planting potatoes and sweet potatoes. Due to this support, the CIP was able to provide sweet potato seeds to nearly 10,000 farmers and trained more than 11,300 men and women on various ways to incorporate this vitamin-rich vegetable into more of their meals. The USAID/OFDA continues to support programs that promote the development of critical agriculture, such as sweet potatoes, in Ethiopia.
  3. Mobile Health and Nutrition Teams (MHNTs) are working in Ethiopia to help manage issues of malnutrition: The USAID’s OFDA and UNICEF have partnered together to deploy MHNTs in order to provide malnutrition screenings, basic health care services, immunizations and health education. The team also offered patient referrals when necessary. In 2017, 50 MHNTs provided 483,700 individuals in the Afar and Somali regions of Ethiopia with life-saving health and nutritional services.
  4. Humanitarian assistance has been essential in reducing severe acute malnutrition (SAM) in children: Although USAID provides resources to help treat SAM, 38 percent of children under five still have stunted growth due to malnutrition. As of March 2018, 31,066 children were admitted and treated for SAM. Approximately 30 percent of these cases were in the Somali region due to the region’s issue with ethnic violence and drought. Significantly more assistance is needed in the Somali region in order to sufficiently manage malnutrition.
  5. Humanitarian assistance has been one of the primary reasons Ethiopia has not entered into a state of emergency for food insecurity: Although increased rainfall and a reduction in disease outbreak have helped minimize food insecurity in Ethiopia, the country would be much worse off without the help of humanitarian aid. Currently, Ethiopia is in crisis, which is phase three of five on the food insecurity scale. The phases include minimal, stressed, crisis, emergency and famine. Experts from the Famine Early Warning Systems Networks report that “Ethiopia would likely be at least one phase worse without current or programmed humanitarian assistance.”

Looking Forward

The need for humanitarian aid will increase as Ethiopia’s population rapidly grows. Currently, Ethiopia ranks second in Africa for the number of refugees the country hosts. Nearly 100 percent of these refugees originate from South Sudan, Somalia, Eritrea and Sudan. Ethiopia currently hosts over 920,262 registered refugees and asylum seekers as of May 31, 2018.

The number of asylum seekers in Ethiopia will continue to grow because Ethiopia has an open-door asylum policy. As Ethiopia’s population continues to grow due to this policy, food sources will become increasingly strained. The need for humanitarian assistance to promote sustainable agriculture and farming practices, therefore, has become essential for reducing food insecurity in Ethiopia.

Ariana Howard
Photo: Flickr

infrastructure in EthiopiaEthiopia is home to Africa’s second largest population and is the oldest independent country on the continent. The surface and transport infrastructure in Ethiopia are particularly poor and underdeveloped, demonstrated by the fact that the country has the lowest road density in the world and only 13.3 percent of all roads have been paved.

Road infrastructure in Ethiopia is of particular importance, as the country is five times as large as the United Kingdom. There has been a massive increase in the allocation of funds for road construction, with the state spending on roads accounting for a quarter of each year’s infrastructure budget.

Unlike their surface infrastructure, Ethiopia features new and upgraded airports which facilitate the transport of goods and encourage greater investment. There are two international airports, Addis Ababa and Dire Dawa, both of which have seen an increase in passenger and freight transport over the last several years. To encourage tourism, five major airports were selected to be upgraded, with the opening of the Arba Minch airport leading to a wide range of economic opportunities for the south of Ethiopia.

Ethiopia has continued to focus its economic policies on the development of new and improved infrastructure by planning to allocate $89 million on infrastructure spending. This has continued the trend of upgrading the national road network, following previous commitments to improve road connections to Kenya and South Sudan.

Improving the road network in Ethiopia is essential, as it will make it easier for farmers to transport their produce to bigger markets, and it supports the growth of the sugar industry in south Ethiopia. The government has hopes that with improvement to the road network, Ethiopia will be able to develop coal mines in the region, allowing the nation to supply cement producers and bolstering the economy.

-Drew Fox

Photo: Flickr

Women's Empowerment in EthiopiaEthiopia is an African country located on the east side of the continent. The country’s main persistent problem throughout the years has been poverty – it affects all citizens, but specifically affects the ones living in rural areas.

One reason for the prevalence of poverty is because Ethiopia’s economy is mostly based around agriculture and farming. Thus, whenever there is an occurrence of droughts, the population has to face hunger and a lack of basic resources to survive. Droughts have been very recurrent during the past few years in the country of Ethiopia.

Another increasingly severe problem in Ethiopia is the international trafficking of women and children. Along with it, domestic violence has been a recurrent problem that does not seem to be reducing with time.

Ethiopia’s constitution mentions how it provides equality for women, but the reality is that the application of this statement is sorely lacking. Most victims of abuse, rape, sexual assault or other criminal activities do not understand the legal procedures and rights that they have when going through the legal process. Thus, the victim’s ignorance along with the common belief in Ethiopia that husbands have the right to beat their wife creates an unsafe environment. Victims consider such acts as normal or understandable. Women’s empowerment in Ethiopia seems to be a concept that not even women in this African country are aware of.

The issue is that women’s inequality is an ancient problem that has not been resolved over time, as it has happened in other countries around the world. Thus, situations such as forced marriages and female genital mutilation are still taking place to this day.

Changing Ethiopian society’s view regarding women and children has – understandably – not proven to be an overnight process. The concept as a whole has been tackled by different organizations, including USAID, which has been a major advocate for womens’ empowerment in Ethiopia. Through talks, conventions, creating awareness and promoting reading clubs, women’s empowerment in Ethiopia grows every day a little more.

The Revolutionary Ethiopia Women’s Association (REWA) is an organization with up to five million members, which focuses on women’s rights in the African country. Reach for Change is another organization well known for its work towards women’s empowerment in Ethiopia. Whilst working directly with Ethiopian citizens, these organizations are working to create an awareness that will help make progress in empowering women in Ethiopia – something that has been a long time coming.

Paula Gibson

Photo: Flickr

Progress Made: An Update on SDGs in EthiopiaIn 2015, 193 UN Member states agreed to work domestically and with other countries to make the world a better and more sustainable place. The resolution that the states signed on September 25, 2015 outlines a path towards sustainable development first precipitated by the Rio+20 Conference in 2012. The 17 Sustainable Development Goals try to pick up where the Millennium Development Goals left off in eradicating poverty and inequality.

It has now been two years since that conference took place, and countries have had the chance to assess themselves and see which goals they can achieve and where they can succeed. In July 2017, representatives from certain countries met up again, this time to report some of their findings on a number of goals. The SDGs in Ethiopia that are most important are goals one, two and five.

Concerning the first goal of no poverty, Ethiopia has made immense strides in the past decade and even more since they adopted the SDGs. The poverty rate was 38.7 percent in 2004, but declined to 29.6 percent in 2010. In 2011, the rate declined another 6.2 percent to 23.4 percent by the end of 2015. These improvements came about as a result of government measures to promote economic growth, such as the Growth and Transformation Plan, as well as anti-poverty organizations working all over the country.

Ethiopia’s progress on the second goal, zero hunger, has also been positive, despite the drought that affected the country’s food supply. The country continues to support programs to bolster small farmers. The country also implemented Climate-Resilient Green Agricultural Development in order to slow their greenhouse gas emissions while promoting growth in the agricultural sector. Different organizations also continue to help Ethiopia become more food secure, like The Hunger Project, which works to decrease food insecurity while also mobilizing communities to become self-reliant.

Finally, the fifth goal of gender equality has also seen improvements. In many countries, women tend to lack political agency. In Ethiopia, the number of female representatives in Parliament reached 38.7 percent, while at regional and district levels women’s representation reached 48 percent in 2016.

Updates on the SDGs in Ethiopia may not paint a perfect picture, but they illustrate a positive look at a country moving towards a better future. Progress in the areas of poverty, hunger, equality and sustainability help Ethiopia model the SDGs in action. This progress is emblematic of a country and world moving away from poverty and toward progress.

Selasi Amoani

Photo: Flickr

On August 3, 2017, the U.S. announced a $169 million investment in Ethiopia and Kenya for those experiencing severe drought. Emergency food assistance will provide safe drinking water and health services, as well as specialized nutrition supplies to treat malnourished children.

In Kenya, about 2.6 million people are food-insecure, and malnutrition rises as droughts continue. Funding for Kenya will support refugees fleeing conflict and drought. The U.S.’s assistance for Ethiopia will support 111,000 metric tons of relief food aid for approximately three million people. The U.S.’s investment in Ethiopia and Kenya supports the countries and helps prevent more serious catastrophes.

According to the USAID-funded Famine Early Warning Systems Network, without immediate and sustained assistance, food insecurity could reach catastrophic levels in the worst areas of Ethiopia.

“It is not a famine but it is rising up to the levels of getting close to famine,” says Matt Nims, acting director of Food for Peace at USAID. Acting now, during the drought, may ease or prevent the possibility of famine.

In 2015 and 2016, about 10 million Ethiopians, 10 percent of the country’s population, required emergency food aid. Ethiopia imported 1.6 million tons of wheat and lifesaving supplements. Even without the crisis of drought, 22 million Ethiopians live in extreme poverty. With international assistance and taking preventative action, Ethiopia can focus on supporting its civilians and their basic needs with the appropriate resources.

With the U.S.’s investment in Ethiopia and Kenya, the countries gain increased food security and services to prevent malnutrition. The countries are in dire need of international donors to support them and help prevent greater crises. International aid, especially during droughts, is crucial to helping families out of poverty and creating national stability.

According to the United Nations, 795 million people worldwide are undernourished, mostly in developing countries. As wealthier countries partner with developing countries and provide needed resources, poverty can be alleviated and create economic sustainability.

Sarah Dunlap

Photo: Flickr