On May 13, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, USAID announced that it will be giving an additional, much-needed $128 million in humanitarian aid to the country to help mitigate the impact of the drought in Ethiopia, the worst in 50 years.
Acting Assistant Administrator for the Bureau of Democracy, Conflict and Humanitarian Affairs Thomas H. Staal and Commissioner Mitiku Kassa of Ethiopia’s National Disaster Risk Management Commission jointly announced the additional aid. Kassa said that the Ethiopian government had contributed $381 million to relief efforts. The U.S. has contributed $705 million in humanitarian aid to Ethiopia since October 2014, and $211.5 million in USAID money to Ethiopia was spent on humanitarian assistance in 2015, specifically.
The most recent addition to the U.S.’s humanitarian aid is intended to provide relief food assistance, safe drinking water, nutrition services and mobile health clinics to help with the huge impact of the drought in Ethiopia. Due to recent rains, USAID is also sending seeds for food production during the expected upcoming rains.
According to NPR reporter Gregory Warner, this drought has not conjured up the typical images of African famine, such as pictures of starving children with distended bellies. Ironically, this has caused some trouble for Ethiopia’s fundraising efforts, said Warner, as there has not been as much media attention given to the drought. Of the $1.4 billion necessary to provide both food and nonfood amenities for the 10.2 million affected people, the country has only secured 54 percent, with the U.S. as its principal donor.
The drought in Ethiopia is the result of El Niño and successive poor rainy seasons. According to Warner, over a third of the country’s crops failed over multiple harvests. Now that the rains are coming, though, there are concerns that this will bring about further difficulties, such as flooding.
The region is incredibly vulnerable to climate change due to its reliance on agriculture and rain-fed agriculture, in particular. According to USAID, though, one of the benefits of providing aid to Ethiopia is its potential as a trading partner, saying, “A healthy and prosperous Ethiopia will increasingly contribute to the stability and economic progress in the region and, as such, is an important trading partner and security ally for the United States.”
– Anastazia Vanisko