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Saving the Children of Ethiopia
At least 14 million people are in need of assistance
Fiza Fatima Asar (FizaPK)     Print Article 
Published 2008-08-29 12:10 (KST)   
The global food crisis has swerved many countries' progress towards decline. African countries are amongst the worst hit by the crisis and the development that had taken place in many of its countries is being adversely affected in recent months.

Ethiopia, ranked amongst the world's 10 least developed countries, is hit by its most severe calamity ever. Conditions prevailing from its 2003 food crisis and the ones before, have only been coupled with new challenges to present a far worst situation for the Ethiopians.

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International aid organization, Oxfam, calls the current Ethiopian food situation a "a toxic cocktail." One of the world's hungriest nations, Ethiopia has always faced trouble with drought causing its entire crops to fail. This time around these have been met with spiking energy prices and global inflation.

If 10 pounds of corn flour cost 'x' amount of money three years ago, the cost is multiplied by five this time around. All Ethiopians, may it be rural settlers or dwellers of urban centres, face annual food-price inflation of more than 75 percent. Armed rebellion in the Somali region has further disrupted food delivery. Plagues and insects are not helping the given situation.

Children, as always, are amongst the most pitiful victims. 900,000 Ethiopians, one-thirds of whom are children alone are under high risk of malnutrition. Save the Children, another humanitarian aid organization, has established family clinics all over the country, where parents are constantly visiting with their starved and weak children.

These children are being given Plumpy'Nut (a vitamin-fortified peanut paste) for immediate protein provision. Some are even being kept for as long as a month for their recovery. The situation thanks to the work put together by the various organizations and government will save the children from dying but may not be enough to stop the cycle of poverty.

75,000 children are said to be malnourished according to government estimates. Some people are having to resort to eating famine foods such as cactus and roots in order to survive.

Poverty only brings out the worst in people. A staff member from Oxfam America reports that in one village he witnessed people pounding their animals' food pellets into a porridge for their children.

Ethiopians are caught in a vicious cycle where food calamity is leading them to take actions that will yield longer term harm. Their families are taking lesser intake of protein-rich food while also skipping meals. Children are being pulled out of schools and livestock, even family assets, are being sold.

This crisis is further undermining the progress in terms of school enrollment that had taken place in recent decades. In an estimate, the World Bank claims that the rise in prices may even reverse the progress made in overall poverty reduction to have taken place in the last seven years worldwide! More than a hundred million people may plunge into poverty.

At least 14 million Ethiopians are in need of assistance may it be in the form of food aid or cash. This government estimates forms 18 percent of the nation. Of these, as mentioned earlier in the article, 900,000 are in danger of malnourishment.

Hunger is said to have spread over two-thirds of the country whereas the emergency food ration has been reduced by one-third since the start of the crisis. Whereas, wealthier countries around the world have stepped up their aid to Ethiopia, there need to be made more concerted efforts to save the children and families.

Between Sept. 1 and 8, 2008, the Coordinator of U.N Emergency Relief is expected to visit Ethiopia in order to assess the situation. It is hoped, that from here onwards the report on Ethiopia will bring the world leaders to step up their efforts in order to save the humanity in need.

©2008 OhmyNews
Other articles by reporter Fiza Fatima Asar

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