OCHA OPERATIONS DIRECTOR PRAISES ETHIOPIAN GOVERNMENT POLICIES; CALLS FOR MORE FOOD DISTRIBUTION
5/14/2012 6:50:00 PM -
NEW YORK, May 14, 2012/African Press Organization (APO)/ -- Following a two-day visit to Ethiopia, OCHA Operations Director John Ging has praised the Ethiopian Government for its innovative and effective efforts to build resilience and self-sufficiency in the midst of ever more challenging climatic conditions.
'Ethiopia has made quite incredible advances in mitigating the impact of drought,' said Mr. Ging. 'Multi-year investments in safety nets and significant advances in health and nutrition have saved countless lives and protected millions from the famine experienced elsewhere in the Horn of Africa.' Mr. Ging went on to say that 'the successful policies pursued by the Ethiopian Government provide an invaluable experience to share, not just elsewhere in the Horn, but also across the drought ridden Sahel.'
During his visit, Mr. Ging met with Government officials, humanitarian partners and representatives of the donor community to discuss the impact of the delayed onset of the belg (mid-February to May) short rains. Mr. Ging was pleased to hear that donors and aid agencies stand ready with the resources necessary to respond quickly to this additional challenge in partnership with the Government.
Visiting a therapeutic feeding centre in Boricha, in the Southern Nations Nationalities and People Region (SNNPR), Mr. Ging heard from mothers about the harrowing plight of being unable to feed their children as planting and harvesting are both delayed.
'It is heartbreaking to see children so acutely malnourished. Their immediate suffering, and the long term damage done to their learning abilities, leaves us all in agreement that more must be done to protect and prevent children from ending up in these centers,' he said.
Mr. Ging commended government officials and aid agencies for expanding targeted and general food distributions and encouraged them to continue to act quickly and decisively, saying that 'prevention is always better than cure.' In encouraging the continued expansion of targeted blanket food distributions, it was emphasized that it is critically important to address immediate humanitarian needs in a way that does not undermine the longer-term development agenda. But with the number of malnutrition cases rising on a daily basis, Mr. Ging urged everyone to 'use all means available to stabilize and reverse this trend, as every child in a therapeutic feeding center is a child too many.'