UK expands aid to Ethiopia to tackle drought

23 Dec 15

The UK has pledged a further £55m to support Ethiopia after a drought in the country left an estimated 18 million people in need of assistance.

The funding includes a £30m package, half of which will go to the World Food Programme to distribute emergency food to 1.9 million people. The UN’s Humanitarian Response Fund will see a further £14m, supporting the provision of water and healthcare and the protection of vulnerable women and girls. The final £1m will fund the secondment of experts to work on the crisis in the UN and the Ethiopian government.

The UK’s Department for International Development also announced a further £25m to support a programme by the Ethiopian government which currently supplies around 8 million severely food insecure people with food and works to boost longer-term food security.

UK international development minister Nick Hurd said the “relentless drought” echoes the famine which killed almost a million people in the country in the 1980s. 

While the Ethiopian government are in a stronger position to help today, the scale of the current crisis means more needs to be done and the international community need to step up, he said.

The crisis in Ethiopia is the result of failed harvests and a record-breaking drought caused by the El-Niño weather pattern. Since the start of the year, when 2.9 million people were found to be in need, that number has grown to 18 million.

The UK is working alongside the country’s government, the UN and others to prevent child malnutrition, treat disease outbreaks and keep children in school, Hurd said. The new funding will ensure families get the emergency food they “so desperately need to survive”.

The US, the EU and other member states are just some of the other countries that have contributed funds to help alleviate the crisis, with the new donations brining the UK’s total humanitarian response to £113m.

Hurd added “a stable, more prosperous Africa is firmly in Britain’s national interest” and said “it is right the country do all it can to prevent the crisis spiralling out of control”.

The UK government recently announced a new strategy for overseas aid, which has placed firmer emphasis on aligning the aid budget with British national interests in the face of a public who can be sceptical about the country’s commitment to spend 0.7% of national income on overseas aid.

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