Africa

Planting window in northern Ethiopia narrows as famine catastrophe looms

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Planting window in northern Ethiopia narrows as famine catastrophe looms

The upcoming seasonal rains in famine-stricken northern Ethiopia offer a narrow window of opportunity for farmers to harvest a harvest and restart local food production, but without funds and better access by aid agencies, that opportunity could be lost. The United Nations Organization (FAO) warned today.

After a visit to Ethiopia to assess the situation, FAO’s Director of Emergencies and Resilience, Rein Paulsen, said: “Many farmers have been deprived of productive assets such as seeds, animals or tools due to looting, or their sources disappear. Credit and seed markets disappear. As a result, local food production has practically come to a halt, “he said.

“Rural communities that play a vital role in maintaining the diet of northern Ethiopia need urgent support if they want to get seeds into the ground before the imminent short rains.

“Each seed they plant represents a brick in a firewall against hunger. But to get those seeds for them, we need more financial support and better access, “added Paulsen.

In addition to lost agricultural assets, the state of basic basic services in northern Ethiopia is hampering relief efforts. There is a lack of electricity and fuel, there is no cash or credit, and there is only one functional road in and out of the region, Paulsen said.

FAO has urgently requested $ 30 million to reach nearly 1.2 million of the most food insecure people in northern Ethiopia. To date, only $ 6.2 million has been pledged.

In addition to cereal seeds, the Organization also aims to distribute fast-growing vegetable seeds and poultry starter kits so that families have a source of low-cost and easy-to-maintain backyard products, meat and eggs. .

Alarming trends in food insecurity that increase needs

The conflict began at the peak of what would have been the main harvest of the Maher season before many households had a chance to harvest their crops. An estimated 90 percent of the harvest was lost, while 15 percent of the region’s 17 million life-sustaining animals were poached or slaughtered.

The most recent Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) analysis (bit.ly/3B1knnd) determined that at least 353,000 people in the region were already experiencing levels of acute food insecurity similar to those of a famine (Catastrophe) only in the state of Tigray. The IPC (bit.ly/3i6cVP3) is a global multi-partner initiative, comprised of 15 UN agencies, regional organizations and international non-governmental organizations, that facilitates better decision-making through the provision of food insecurity based on the consensus and analysis of malnutrition. Learn more about the ICF indicators for acute food insecurity: bit.ly/3eimNEe

In total, more than 60 percent of the population of Tigray and the neighboring areas of Amhara and Afar, more than 5.5 million people, now face emergency, crisis or catastrophic levels of hunger (CPI 3, 4 and 5) and are at high risk of rapidly starving without support.

Critical agriculture restart, but underfunded

Although the majority (80 percent) of the people in northern Ethiopia depend on subsistence farming, so far very little financial support has been allocated to agricultural interventions that can help at-risk families resume productive activity and produce. food for themselves and their communities.

The crisis in Ethiopia is part of a disturbing wave of growing acute food insecurity around the world, fueled by a toxic mix of pre-existing threats such as conflict, climate crises, and economic disruption exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. More information: bit.ly/3ehSMUV

In addition to northern Ethiopia, some communities in southern Madagascar, South Sudan, and Yemen are likely to be experiencing famine or “likely famine conditions.” Some 41 million people around the world are now at emergency levels of food insecurity and are at high risk of famine if they are hit by another external shock.

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