A special emergency grant of €3 million agreed for the World Food Programme’s Market Mitigation Account
“Sharply escalating global food prices and the developing humanitarian crisis in Ethiopia are matters for the deepest concern”
Minister for Foreign Affairs, Dermot Ahern T.D.,
Minister of State for Overseas Development, Micheál Kitt T.D.,
A special emergency grant of €3 million agreed for the World Food
Programme’s Market Mitigation Account and
Funding for the Productive Safety Nets Programme in Ethiopia to rise by over 25% this year to €11 million
Minister for Foreign Affairs, Dermot Ahern T.D., has expressed grave concern at the sharply escalating global price of staple foodstuffs and the immediate effect which this is having on the ability of the most vulnerable people in developing countries to feed their families.
Minister Ahern said: “What we are witnessing is nothing short of a catastrophe for the most vulnerable populations – those millions living on less than $1 a day. The scale of recent increases has tipped many of these families over the edge - from a situation of serious deprivation to one of chronic hunger. I fully support the UN Secretary General’s recent initiative to establish a special Task Force to make recommendations for a coherent global response to this crisis. Their report will be a guide for the International Community’s response. At the same time, I look to our own Hunger Task Force, established on foot of the White Paper on Irish Aid, to come forward with their own proposals on how Ireland in particular should best respond to this crisis. I look forward to shortly receiving their report.”
In approving the grant of €3 million for the WFP’s special account, Minister Kitt said, “this brings Ireland’s allocation for the WFP from both my colleague Minister Coughlan and from Irish Aid to over €20 million so far this year. I have no doubt but that, in light of current food price increases, we will need to sharpen our focus on food security during the course of the rest of the year.”
In approving an increase of over 25% for the Safety Nets Programme in Ethiopia, Minister Kitt also commented on the current crisis and said: “We can see the effects of this crisis on the ground in Ethiopia. Already, chronic food insecurity is the every day situation which faces 7 million people living in Ethiopia. This is irrespective of the presence of drought or famine. This year, due to the failure of the rains coupled with the increased cost of food, the situation has considerably worsened and there has been a rapid increase in malnutrition rates. There is a real fear that the situation could deteriorate further.”
The Minister noted that this already difficult situation is further compounded by continuing unrest in parts of the country – particularly in the Ogaden Region - and by the ongoing conflict in neighbouring Somalia.
In response, Ireland is continuing to increase its support to the Productive Safety Nets Programme. The programme provides cash or food to Ethiopia’s poorest people in exchange for their participation in public works. Ireland is increasing its assistance to this programme to €11 million. The programme is designed to help prevent people slipping into absolute destitution and hunger.
The Minister said: “Last year, in 2007, this cash for work programme saved over 7 million people from starvation, while the work undertaken by the beneficiaries included the construction and maintenance of 10,000 km of rural roads and the planting of 60 million new trees. In this way, the Programme not alone provided very necessary relief to the needy, but also laid the foundations for the development of a sustainable agricultural economy in the worst affected parts of the country”.
While the Productive Safety Nets Programme is the cornerstone of Ireland’s response to food insecurity in Ethiopia, it is supplemented by grants each year from Irish Aid to UN agencies, such as the World Food Programme, as well as to Irish Aid’s established NGO partners working in Ethiopia – notably Concern, Trocaire, Refugee Trust, Handicap International, Goal and Crosslinks.
This year a further €3million is being provided to assist poor rural people diversify their crops and to purchase livestock and assist in rebuilding their livelihoods generally.
Minister Ahern also spoke of the urgent necessity for a coherent
international reaction to this global challenge and to the
developing situation in Ethiopia and said: “I am in close contact
with my EU colleagues and like-minded development partners on the
global food situation and on the unfolding situation in Ethiopia.
We will continue to work together to ensure that we remain focused
on poverty reduction and addressing the basic needs of the most
vulnerable people. This is particularly the case at present in
respect of Ethiopia and it is imperative that we work together to
ensure that there can be no repetition of the disastrous famine
which occurred in that country back in the 1980s