Friday, December 3, 2010

Famine in Ethiopia – Can it finally be beaten?

Sadly, Ethiopia and Ethiopian development has been tied with the words ‘famine’ and ‘drought’. There are even dictionaries that give Ethiopia as an example for definition of the words. There are people, today that cannot help but think of the country anymore than a desert where people die because of hunger. Even first time travelers to Ethiopia come with great trepidation. Even after coming to face with the reality of the country they still think they are missing something or that the whole country is pulling a fast one on them.

Food in Ethiopia - at present

A report from USAID quotes the United Nations World Food Program (UNWFP) as saying that famine in Ethiopia could be beaten back if recent crop harvests are any indication.  As of July, due to favorable conditions the country had had a bumper harvest. And this in turn had contributed to an improvement in Ethiopia’s food security.

The report also shows that not only was the food crisis alleviated, there was also an improvement in the availability of water for consumption as well pastoral purposes all over the usually dry and drought prone areas of the south and southeast of Ethiopia. All in all, drought and relief maps of Ethiopia have shown a very rapid diminishing of food shortages in the whole country.

African food – the future

As encouraging as the report may be the history of Africa and especially the history of famine in Ethiopia has shown that no matter how secure a country may become, there is a high chance of another drought or even famine occurring to derail the slow but definite growth of the newfound Ethiopian development.

Encouraging news that has been airing around Africa is the publication of a new book ‘The New Harvest: Agricultural Innovation in Africaby Harvard University professor Calestous Juma. The book that is expected to be published on December 15th has put forward the results of a study stating that not only can Africa feed itself in just a generation, but can also become a major food exporter strong enough to alleviate the ravenous hunger that is slowly creeping up in the rest of the world.

The overall results of the study apparently show that agriculture in Africa has come to a standstill when the rest of the world has been pushing it into the 21st century. By making agriculture the number one item on their agendas, there is no doubt that Africa can be the breadbasket of the world.


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