"President Bush is deeply concerned about the current situation in Ethiopia. This pledge signifies a commitment to alleviate further suffering," Natsios said.
In addition to announcing the aid, Natsios stressed that long-term development is needed to avert future crises.
"As we have already agreed, continuing reforms in food security policy, especially to promote more strategic use of food aid to overcome rural poverty, will be one facet to helping end the cycle of poverty and food insecurity. More important for the long term, however, is the need for urgent implementation of agricultural sector reforms," Natsios continued.
Natsios also stressed the linkages between food security and development issues at a meeting today with local and international non-governmental organizations, emphasizing that the food security issue must be integrated with other development programs, including HIV/AIDS and democracy and governance. To that end, USAID/Ethiopia's program focuses on child survival and nutrition, family health, infectious diseases including HIV/AIDS, improved agricultural productivity, basic education, democracy and governance, and disaster mitigation.
The U.S. government has provided more than $2.26 billion in development and food aid to Ethiopia since 1981, and $1.8 billion since resuming a full program with the transitional government in 1991-92.
Natsios will travel to two areas of the country - Arsi in northeastern Ethiopia and Hararge in eastern Ethiopia. On Saturday, Natsios will accompany World Food Program Executive Director James Morris to a small village, Dilfaqaar, to meet with residents who have been hard hit by the most recent drought.
Today, Natsios attended an HIV/AIDS rally at the Mesrak Ber #1 middle school in Addis Ababa.
Natsios arrived in Addis Ababa last night after attending the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) conference in Mauritius earlier this week and a one-day trip to Nairobi, Kenya. While in Nairobi, he and Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Walter Kansteiner met with the new Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki. Natsios echoed the comments of President Bush in congratulating Kibaki and the people of Kenya for ushering in a new era through peaceful, democratic change.
Contact: USAID Press Office
WASHINGTON, DC 20523