The Horn of Africa continues to be a part of the world that suffers from food insecurity as a result of drought and conflict. Ethiopia, a core part of this region and its issues, has over 7.8 million people who are food insecure. This is attributed to the cumulative effect of worsening food production over the years and long-lasting regional conflicts that have exacerbated living conditions. The issue is particularly detrimental for the population dependent on subsistence farming and the nomadic community.
The top 10 facts about hunger in Ethiopia listed above cover relevant facts that cover the historical impact of food insecurity and the current challenges.
Top 10 Facts About Hunger in Ethiopia
- Thirty-four years ago the most catastrophic famine hit Ethiopia painting the nation in the image of poverty, drought and hunger in such a huge way that the government to this day works on reversing this perception. However, this proves difficult because three decades had passed from this moment, and the United Nations announced that 15 million people will need food aid in 2015.
- The general trend of increase in food insecurity is caused mainly by the weather. Low rainfalls during the past few years have led to disastrous harvests. Even at times when rain returns in some areas, the ramifications of the lack of rain is proving to be a prolonged crisis.
- Other elements that contribute to the issue of hunger are also mostly natural factors such as the decrease in land size and quality, animal and plant diseases and the destruction of vegetation and wild products.
- There are several actions being taken by governmental and nongovernmental entities to tackle the high level of food insecurity in Ethiopia, that have brought notable progress. These actions include food aid, an increase in productivity and in land cultivated, improvement of seeds and irrigation.
- The harsh effects of famine and drought resulting in prolonged periods of food insecurity, especially in the rural areas are directly related to the high level of poverty as more than half of the population lives on less than $1 a day. In addition, considering that 80 percent of the population lives in rural areas where birth rates are high and smallholder farming is the base of the economy, weather changes affect production immensely and the population in these areas is not able to cope with the situation.
- The political and economic instability that intricately creates regional conflicts is a huge factor for food insecurity. Although the droughts cause a decrease in food production, it is largely the human factors such as ineffective response to this occurrence that causes famine and starvation.
- The prolonged effects that don’t account for the immediate disaster of food insecurity are child malnutrition that causes Ethiopia a loss of 16.5 percent of GDP each year. This is reflected in the fact that 40 percent of children in Ethiopia suffer from stunting. This condition also accounts for 1.1 years less in school education that eventually reduces the workforce.
- Aid for the famine and other issues in the country, such as severe droughts in 2016 and 2017 and heavy rainfalls that caused the flooding in 2018, is continuous. Organizations such as the Catholic Relief Services (CRS), Food for the Hungry, Relief Society of Tigray and World Vision and USAID’s Office of Food for Peace (FFP) aim to support the food-insecure population through long-term development interventions.
- Despite the gravity of food insecurity challenges Ethiopia is making an effort to eradicate hunger by addressing the low smallholder farmer productivity through policies that allow big investments in agricultural research and development, especially in the aspects of making improved seeds and breeds available along with better farming practices. Moreover, there have been efforts to give prompt access to high-quality inputs such as effective fertilizers.
- Zero Hunger is one of the United Nation’s Global Goals that is particularly critical for countries like Ethiopia who not only struggle with the challenges of climate change that affect food production but also with political groups working to expand the famine and only offer resettlement as a solution.
Africa has witnessed drastic changes as a result of its fast-growing economies and improved agricultural production that has cut the number of undernourished people in the continent by half. Therefore, despite the hurdles that Ethiopia has faced in the past in meeting food demands, meeting the Sustainable Development Goal, which means the end all forms of hunger and malnutrition by 2o3o, is not an unreachable goal.
However, it will require a lot of work in smallholder farmers coping with weather changes such as droughts and flooding augmented by assistance from governmental and nongovernmental entities to bring a long-term solution.
– Bilen Kassie