The Daily Monitor (Addis Ababa)
The UN World Food Programme (WFP) said last week it was forced to cut assistance to malnourished mothers and children in Ethiopia because it could not respond to increasing hunger resulting from the drought in southern Ethiopia.
The UN agency said that, due to funding shortfalls, it has less food in its warehouses than it needs, and as of the end of last month, it was forced to scale back food assistance to beneficiaries in drought-affected areas.
It said that, despite evidence of malnutrition in some drought areas, a food deficit will prevent the agency from providing nutritious life-saving food supplements to all of the acutely malnourished children and mothers on the agency’s Targeted Supplementary Food (TSF) Programme, which it said provides a special fortified food that facilitates rehabilitation of malnourished children and mothers.
According to the statement, in 2007, the TSF Programme assisted over 1.1 million beneficiaries.
“This year, WFP has had to cut back the number of districts where TSF is operational from 342 to 163, leaving malnourished mothers and children in many areas, with no assistance,” Mohamed Diab, WFP’s Country Director in Ethiopia said in a statement.
“This scaling back of support during a drought threatens to de-rail the Government’s successful strategies for combating food insecurity in Ethiopia,”he added.
The recently launched Ethiopian Government and Partners Joint Document called for US$ 13.7 million to assist some 238,500 mothers and children under five living in areas worst affected by drought through WFP’s Targeted Supplementary Programme. Some 13,285 metric tons of nutritious food supplements is required.
But the organization said it urgently needs a further US$ 28 million to assist malnourished mothers and children who live outside of the immediate drought stricken areas. In addition, WFP faces a shortfall of US$ 48.4 million to support the government’s emergency relief programme.
The world’s largest humanitarian agency said it remains concerned over serious gaps in meeting other food assistance requirements, particularly as the number of people suffering from drought and harvest failure may increase over the next few months.