Minister Whelan announces relief assistance for Ethiopia

News and Press Release
Originally published
Ottawa - The Honourable Susan Whelan, Minister for International Cooperation, today announced that Canada, through the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), will contribute an additional $40 million for emergency assistance in Ethiopia. This brings Canada's total response to the current crisis to $46.86 million.

"A major humanitarian crisis is currently unfolding in Ethiopia," Minister Whelan said. "More than 11 million Ethiopians need food to survive and three million more are at risk. Today's announcement demonstrates Canada's leadership in responding to the needs of Africans and our unwavering commitment to assisting Africans who are victims of famine and other disasters."

One exceptional Canadian response to the drought comes from the Sprott Foundation, under the chairmanship of the philanthropist Eric Sprott. This generous individual has donated $1 million to the Canadian Hunger Foundation-PARTNERS in Rural Development to help many Ethiopian families combat starvation. Canada, through CIDA, is providing an additional $2 million to this initiative.

"CIDA's support enables us to respond more quickly and comprehensively than we could have otherwise," said Tony Breuer, Executive Director of the Canadian Hunger Foundation. "Beyond addressing the immediate food shortage, CIDA's contribution will give us the resources to help head off reoccurrences of famine in the future and help the people of Ethiopia become self-supporting."

In 2002, below-average rains in the spring coupled with delayed and sporadic rains in the summer have led to widespread food insecurity in Ethiopia. The drought that has struck Ethiopia has inflicted immediate damage over a wide geographic area. The crisis is having an impact on farmers, pastoralists, agro-pastoralists, and migrant workers. Also affected are mothers who, because of deficiencies in their own diet, are unable to nurse their infant children adequately. Shortages of food and animal products will also affect the well-being of urban populations.

"Although today's aid package is for emergency response, Canada continues to work with its partners to address the long-term causes of drought and famine in Ethiopia," Minister Whelan said. "Longer-term development is key in preventing increasing dependency and destitution in Ethiopia. Canada is making a positive difference in the lives of people in Africa, particularly the most vulnerable."

Minister Whelan will travel to Ethiopia from January 18 to 20 to attend the third Big Table meeting organized by the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa in Addis Ababa. This is a high-level forum to discuss critical development themes of concern to Africa. During her visit, Minister Whelan will meet with Mr. Meles Zenawi, Prime Minister of Ethiopia as well as counterparts from key national ministries. Minister Whelan will travel to northern Ethiopia with Ambassador Robert Fowler, the Prime Minister of Canada's personal representative for Africa, to visit World Food Program famine-relief sites. She will visit the Canadian Hunger Foundation project site, a food aid initiative in the Ethiopian region of Bati. Minister Whelan will also meet with other partners including aid agencies and representatives of non-governmental organizations working in the region.

Please consult the backgrounder [below], Canada's response to needs of vulnerable people in Ethiopia, for details of today's announcement.

Funding for these initiatives was provided for in the December 2001 federal budget and is therefore built into the existing fiscal framework.


Canada's response to needs of vulnerable people in Ethiopia

In Ethiopia, more than 11 million people require immediate food assistance and another three million require close monitoring. Canada is very concerned about the drought situation in the region, and has been responding to the crisis. In October 2002, Canada announced $6.6 million in food assistance to Ethiopia to assist people affected by drought. The additional $40 million announced today will support the following initiatives:

- $22 million for food and nutritional support with partners such as the World Food Programme, the Canadian Foodgrains Bank, and non-governmental organizations.

- $2 million for a partnership for food security. These funds are in response to a $1-million contribution from a prominent Canadian businessman to the Canadian Hunger Foundation-PARTNERS in Rural Development for the current crisis in Ethiopia. This initiative will contribute to emergency food purchases and transport. It will also provide food aid, food for work, and will help affected families prepare for the next growing season by providing seeds and tools and replacing lost livestock, particularly oxen for ploughing.

- $3 million in direct bilateral support to address urgent needs identified by the Government of Ethiopia, which could include replenishing the Food Security Reserve, improving communications and logistics equipment, or other activities described in the Joint Government-UN Appeal.

- $5.9 million for women and children's health initiatives to address some of the leading causes of death among drought-affected communities. One in ten Ethiopian children dies before the age of five, an already precarious situation that is exacerbated by the emergency conditions.

- $6.56 million for other non-food initiatives such as providing seed and feed as well as water services, including:

  • $400,000 through CARE Canada to improve access to potable water for domestic use in drought-affected households. This initiative will help to rehabilitate existing water schemes such as boreholes, springs and rainwater catchments as well as constructing new water points. Local communities will also learn more about improved hygiene behaviour to reduce their vulnerability to disease.

  • $395,000 for World Vision to provide veterinary services and improve access to water supply for farmers and their livestock.

  • $250,000 to improve food security in selected regions of Ethiopia through the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC). This IFRC emergency appeal aims to extend the scope and geographic area of cash-for-work interventions.

  • $250,000 through the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) to supply urgently needed veterinary instruments and animal feed in drought-affected zones in the Afar and Somali regions. This initiative will: purchase and distribute veterinary instruments to assist the government's animal health campaign; strengthen the capacity of veterinary staff and community health workers; and ensure a rapid rebuilding of the herd after the drought, by rescuing breeding animals through distribution of supplementary feed.
- $800,000 to respond to proposals from non-governmental organizations for additional emergency assistance initiatives.

Announced in October 2002:

  • $3.6 million to allow Canada to provide 5,300 metric tonnes of wheat as part of the WFP's multi-donor food aid campaign in Ethiopia that targets over 1.4 million people per year. The WFP, in partnership with the Ethiopian Ministry of Agriculture, carries out development activities based on plans prepared at the community level. This grassroots approach enables communities to identify their priorities and participate actively in the selection and planning of activities. Food aid is used as an incentive to help farmers learn to increase their incomes and improve food security through soil and water conservation, wood lots and community forest plantation, small-scale rural infrastructure, and water harvesting.

  • $3 million through the World Food Programme (WFP) for relief food assistance to small-scale farmers and drought-affected pastoralists. These needs arise from the recent drought situation, which has adversely affected the seasonal crop and is threatening the food security of millions of Ethiopians. Canada's contribution will provide approximately 3,757 metric tons of wheat for WFP's emergency operations in Ethiopia.

Valérie Poulin
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister for International Cooperation
Telephone: (819) 953-6238

Media Relations Office
Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA)
Telephone: (819) 953-6534
Web site: (electronic version of document)

Tony Breuer
Canadian Hunger Foundation (CHF)-PARTNERS in Rural Development
Telephone: (613) 237-0180