Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
09ADDISABABA1673
2009-07-15 13:37:00
UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY
Embassy Addis Ababa
Cable title:  

A/S CARSON DISCUSSES FOOD SECURITY IN ETHIOPIA

Tags:  EAID EAGR PHUM PGOV PREL ET 
pdf how-to read a cable
VZCZCXRO8016
PP RUEHROV
DE RUEHDS #1673/01 1961337
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 151337Z JUL 09
FM AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 5494
INFO RUCNIAD/IGAD COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEPADJ/CJTF HOA PRIORITY
RUEWMFD/HQ USAFRICOM STUTTGART GE PRIORITY
RUEHRC/DEPT OF AGRICULTURE WASHDC
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 ADDIS ABABA 001673 

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EAID EAGR PHUM PGOV PREL ET
SUBJECT: A/S CARSON DISCUSSES FOOD SECURITY IN ETHIOPIA

REF: (A) ADDIS ABABA 1348
(B) ADDIS ABABA 1556
(C) ADDIS ABABA 1498

-------
SUMMARY
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UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 ADDIS ABABA 001673

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EAID EAGR PHUM PGOV PREL ET
SUBJECT: A/S CARSON DISCUSSES FOOD SECURITY IN ETHIOPIA

REF: (A) ADDIS ABABA 1348
(B) ADDIS ABABA 1556
(C) ADDIS ABABA 1498

--------------
SUMMARY
--------------


1. (SBU) In a meeting with humanitarian community representatives,
Assistant Secretary Johnnie Carson described the Obama
administration's plans to promote food security by emphasizing
agricultural development. Participants described Ethiopia's chronic
food insecurity and Government of Ethiopia (GoE) denials of the
severity of the situation, noting that only a comprehensive approach
- addressing agricultural development, climate change, population
control, land tenure, and government regulation - will help Ethiopia
achieve food security. END SUMMARY.

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ETHIOPIA'S CHRONIC FOOD INSECURITY
--------------


2. (U) On July 7, Assistant Secretary Carson met with
representatives of USAID, UN agencies, the UK's Department for
International Development (DfID),CARE, Save the Children - UK, and
Food for the Hungry International to discuss Ethiopia's food
security needs and the Obama administration's planned shift from
humanitarian food aid to agricultural and other development
assistance.


3. (SBU) Attendees described Ethiopia's chronic food insecurity
(Ref A),which is exacerbated by outdated agricultural practices,
rapid population growth, an unstable land tenure policy, climate
change, and myriad GoE regulatory and economic policies. The group
noted that Ethiopia's food needs are greater than usual this year
owing to successive seasons of failed rains, including the failure
of the belg (spring) rains earlier this year (Ref B).

--------------
GOE CONTINUES TO DOWNPLAY HUNGER
--------------


4. (SBU) Despite agreement amongst the humanitarian community that
at least 6.6 million Ethiopians are currently in need of relief food
aid (Ref C),the GoE continues to downplay need, citing its own
figure of 4.9 million. (Note: Neither of these figures includes
the 7.5 million people currently receiving food assistance through
the donor-funded Productive Safety Net Program. End Note.) The
GoE's refusal to admit the full extent of the problem is based on
both its fear of international embarrassment (and subsequent impact
on security and investment) and domestic political concerns.
Denials are also linked to the GoE's firm belief that all
development must be directed and provided by the government.


5. (SBU) However, at the local level, there is a strong recognition
of growing hunger. Woreda officials, for whom hungry constituents
are more visible, are not towing the GoE line on food need and
requests for assistance. This politicization of hunger breaks down
the trust that the GoE will need to enact sustainable solutions to
its food needs.

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WHILE EMERGENCY FOOD AID IS NOT SUSTAINABLE...
--------------


6. (SBU) The humanitarian organizations represented stressed that
without a new strategy, Ethiopia's food needs will increase, owing
to climate change and a population growth. For both of these
reasons, and in light of donor resource constraints, providing
emergency food aid is not sustainable. A/S Carson noted that the
Obama administration's first major initiative in Africa will focus
on sustainable agricultural development, adding that without a new
dialogue on food security, everyone will pay a price. Those who are
hungry pay the greatest price, and every dollar spent to save a
person from crisis is a dollar not spent to develop that person.

-------------- ---
...FOOD SECURITY REQUIRES A COMPREHENSIVE APPROACH
-------------- ---


7. (SBU) While praising plans to focus on agricultural development,
attendees encouraged a comprehensive approach to food security. For
example, climate change will have a major impact on the agriculture
sector in Ethiopia, and plans must specifically consider that
impact. From a broader perspective, food security cannot be
achieved without macroeconomic and regulatory reforms, including the
strengthening of land tenure. Moreover, food security cannot be
achieved without population control - which the GoE has the
capacity, if not the political will, to improve.

ADDIS ABAB 00001673 002 OF 002



YAMAMOTO