The Food Crisis in Ethiopia
A Joint Statement by NGOs
"As non-governmental agencies working with the people of Ethiopia, we wish to state that the present food crisis is not yet a
repeat of 1984/85. We affirm that there is a critical situation in the South and East that could have been averted – and a
widespread crisis can still be averted, with prompt and appropriate action.
"Ethiopia remains highly vulnerable to catastrophic food shortages. However, the government, with the support of the
international community, has developed effective and transparent early-warning and response mechanisms. These systems have
not elicited adequate and timely responses. NGOs and others warned of the developing emergency and lobbied donors for
responses well before the situation deteriorated. Early-warning systems are only effective if they are responded to in a timely
"The government, with donor support, had put in place an Emergency Food Security Reserve (EFSR) with a capacity of more
than 300,000 metric tonnes. The EFSR was depleted last year. Some donors borrowed from the reserve, and food would
have been in place to overcome the crisis.
"As NGOs deeply concerned with the rapidly deteriorating situation in Ethiopia, we wish to assert that:
"The crisis is not restricted to a few areas, but that much of the country, and indeed most neighboring countries, are affected or
at serious risk. All concerned must be more proactive in preventing the spread of the emergency to other vulnerable areas,
"There is a pressing responsibility falling on the shoulders of the international community to respond quickly, and to deliver on
their pledges. Food must be pre-positioned by June in remote areas so that access to beneficiaries is not at risk of being cut off
by the expected onset of heavy rains in July.
"This is not a quick-fix solution that commitment must be sustained. It must be ensured that food is in the pipeline and getting to
the people for at least the next six months, without interruption.
"The need now is not just food, important as it is. Donors must also support other essential activities: water supply, health,
"The failure of the rains may have triggered the crisis but is not the fundamental cause. The coping mechanisms of vulnerable
communities are so fragile that minor climatic variations can result in crisis conditions. Alongside the emergency response,
long-term investment is required to consolidate coping mechanisms and address food insecurity. This crisis should serve to
augment, not diminish, long-term development efforts.
"Most importantly, the cycle of crisis must be broken. The people of Ethiopia need peace, more development assistance and
Action Aid, CARE, Catholic Relief Services, Community Aid Abroad, Concern Agro-Action, GOAL, Intermon, Lutheran
World Federation, Oxfam-GB, save the Children-UK, save the Children-USA, SOS-Sahel.