The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has given Ethiopia with nearly $246 million in food and nutrition assistance since summer 2015. This was announced when the agency was providing an additional $97 million in food assistance to the country.
Ethiopia is suffering its worst drought in 30 years. The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says about 8.2 million people in Ethiopia need emergency food aid, nearly double the number compared to six months ago.
That figure could rise up to 15 million next year unless the international community stepped up with more donations.
“Given that we are witnessing the driest conditions ever recorded in parts of Ethiopia, we know the magnitude of the need will require far more robust support globally than what has currently been pledge,” Dina Esposito, Director of USAID’s Office of Food for Peace, said in a prepared statement.
“With these early contributions we aim to demonstrate the United States’ deep concern over rapidly expanding relief requirements and send a signal to other donors to respond generously as well.”
Before the number of needy almost doubled to more than 8.2 million, Ethiopian ministers argued that food surpluses and disaster planning meant they didn’t need help. But as the situation worsened, the tone shifted and was forced to made an unambiguous appeal for aid.
The government now said it set aside $192m to help deal with the current emergency, although the UN says far more is needed.
Many Ethiopians still remember the famine more than 30 years ago that spawned a global humanitarian response. They are understandably angry at being associated in western minds with misery and famine.