Giving life and hope in Ethiopia

Following U.S. food into the deserts

In 2017, the United States contributed US$175 million* to World Food Programme (WFP) operations in Ethiopia. Thanks to the generosity of the American people, WFP was able to provide life-saving food assistance and nutrition support for refugees, drought-affected families and malnourished women and children. In addition, the U.S. provided meals for 272,000 school children through the McGovern-Dole program.

Drought has devastated the livelihoods for many in Ethiopia. Photo: WFP/Michael Tewelde

Back-to-back droughts for a third straight year have pushed millions of people into hunger in Ethiopia. There are 8.5 million people who need humanitarian assistance right now, as confirmed by the government-led Humanitarian Requirements Document. Families lost their livestock and were forced to sell household items to survive. Contributions from the U.S. allowed WFP to purchase large amounts of food from neighbouring countries in Africa for distribution to villages across the Somali region. In addition, the U.S. donated food grown by American farmers to support drought-affected families.

The WFP warehouse (L) in Jijiga, one of WFP’s largest hubs for the drought-affected Somali region. It holds food purchased using USAID funds (R). Photo: WFP/Michael Tewelde

The majority of food transported by sea arrives at the port of Djibouti in East Africa, and travels by truck to Ethiopia, where it is stored in warehouses around the country.

The scale of U.S. food donations is significant — many WFP warehouses have been fully stocked with commodities from American farmers and those purchased with U.S. funds in 2017.

Families pick up the food from collection points in their villages, often using donkeys to transport it back to their home. Photo: WFP/Michael Tewelde

Once WFP dispatches the food from the warehouse, it travels by truck to one of the many ‘woredas’ or districts, and on to the individual villages where it is finally distributed. Local government officials then communicate with the families to collect the food and arrange the distribution. WFP currently delivers to over 2,000 food distribution points across Somali region.

In July, a U.S. donation came at a critical time in the drought response when food stocks were running low. These contributions allowed WFP to purchase food swiftly and support 1.7 million drought-affected people in the Somali region. This included a variety of food, such as lentils, kidney beans, yellow split peas, sorghum and fortified vegetable oil. Nutrition-dense cereals and pulses are crucial for families who are vulnerable to malnutrition.

In addition, U.S. contributions in 2017 enabled WFP to purchase specialized nutritious products, which are used to prevent and treat moderate malnutrition in children under 5 and pregnant and nursing mothers.

Food brings children to school. A daily school meal provides a strong incentive to send children to school, particularly girls, and keep them there. Photo: WFP/Michael Tewelde

Through funding and food commodities received from the McGovern-Dole programme, WFP was able to support 272,000 children with school meals in 2017. The schools meals program continues to be essential in increasing student enrolment and class participation.

Throughout 2017, the United States demonstrated strong leadership and support for aid throughout East Africa as severe drought deepened suffering across the region.

“We are grateful for the leadership of the United States and the generosity of the American people for helping save lives in Ethiopia,” said WFP Executive Director David Beasley in Rome. “The donations from the U.S. and other countries enable WFP to stay on the front lines fighting hunger around the world.”

*Covers U.S. Government fiscal year 2016–2017

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