Ethiopia: MoARD reveals Safety Net Program pitfalls

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Ethiopia may be unable to deliver aid under the Safety Net Program due to a shortfall from donors, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MoARD) has reported.

Currently, some 8.29 million people have been chronically affected by food insecurity.

A MoARD plan to deliver 509,917 metric tonnes of food to affected areas within the first half of the fiscal year has ecountered its severest setback yet after the ministry obtained only 396.7 metric tonnes of food from donors, out of which only a small portion was distributed.

The ministry’s underperformance has been pinned to “donors’ failure to keep their pledges”, Tefera Derebew, minister of MoARD, explained to parliament this week as part of a nine month performance report. “It is hard to ease the chronic food insecurity, unless the donors keep their words,” Tefera said.

The Government released only 48,850 metric tonnes of food and oil to hot spot areas whilst only 135.7 million birr was allocated to those physically unable to work in non hot spot areas, the minister said.

The physically unable to work group got 1.34 billion birr from the government within a nine month period with plans to distribute 315.8 million birr for the remaining months. Within the nine month performance the government’s program reached only 2.25 million people from the total number under the safety net program.

Initially, the Safety Net Program, launched in 2005, was aimed towards the provision of short-term food needs for some 8.2 million citizens. In 2006, however, the program shifted focus from providing short-term food needs, which involved emergency food relief, to addressing the underlying causes of household food-insecurity.

The program is geared towards a reduction in the number of Ethiopians suffering from extreme hunger, malnutrition, poverty as well as the rehabilitation of the environment – one of the main causes of food insecurity. A considerable portion of the program’s allocated budget is allocated towards the strengthening of soil, water conservation, sustainable and productive agriculture.

The Safety Net Program is supported by a number of large international donors including the World Bank, the World Food Programme and the Governments of the United Kingdom, Canada, Ireland, Sweden, the Netherlands, the United States, as well as the European Union. It provides direct grants and wages to those physically unable to work and is reaching an estimated 8.2 million people.

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