ADDIS ABABA, 26 February (IRIN) - Ethiopia
faces permanent food crises unless it embraces open, accountable government
and radical market reforms, the head of the US government's aid arm said
Addressing the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Andrew Natsios, head of the US Agency for International Development (USAID), said Ethiopia must also boost growth and investment in agriculture to avoid future famines.
Natsios, who visited Ethiopia last month, said without economic and political changes, the country would always face "chronic hunger".
"While the Ethiopian government has taken a leadership role in responding to the famine, it has been reluctant until very recently to embrace the policies that will stimulate growth and investment in its agricultural sector to avoid future famines," Natsios said.
He urged the international community to invest more on "recovery and prevention" and boost funding in the agricultural sector to avoid food crises in the country.
"At the same time unless the government of Ethiopia embraces accountable and open governance and enacts market and trade reforms necessary to increase the capacity of local producers, Ethiopia will remain in a chronic state of hunger," he added.
He said the country also faces major logistical problems in tackling the food emergency, as it has no seaports and limited trucks to deliver food.
Natsios said the crisis in Ethiopia was "supply driven" - in that the country does not produce enough food aid and lacks the cash to fill the gap. Food aid, he added, was clearly just a short-term solution and that would not solve the problem.
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