Ethiopia’s Drought Is No 1984 Rerun And Won’t Hurt Economic Growth

Written by Kevin Mwanza

A devastating drought in the northern parts of Ethiopia is nothing like what the country experienced in the 80’s and would not affect the country’s stellar economic growth or force the government to divert resources from the budget in response.

According to a Reuters report, a drought in the East African nation of 93 million people has caused a food and water shortage in the largely agricultural north and may require as much as $600 million to cope with the climatic crisis.

Abdulaziz Mohammed, Ethiopia’s finance minister, told Reuters the effect of the drought on the country’s economic growth was limited since “the drought affected areas are peripheral and pastoral communities in the southern and eastern parts of the country”.

“Normally, those parts of the country contribute not more than 5 percent to our GDP. On the other hand, we expect harvest to be more this year,” Mohammed said.

Ethiopia’s economy has grown at an average annual rate of 10 percent over the past decade, driven partly by ever increasing agricultural productivity.

Ethiopia has already received $97 million from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to help feed more than 8 million people in need of aid because of the drought.

The United Nations warned that more than 15 million people in Ethiopia could be in need of food aid by the beginning of 2016 as the East African nation come face to face with the worst drought since 1984 due to El nino weather effects, which cause extremes such as scorching weather in some regions of the globe and heavy rains and flooding in others.

The drought which has just begun is expected to get worse in coming months and has been equated by the BBC the worst drought in Ethiopia in mid 80’s that saw global celebrities come together for one of the largest charity event ever seen to help starving people in the horn of Africa country.

In a statement, the Ethiopian Embassy in London refuted the BBC comparison and said the government was in a position to “overcome the problem”.

“The sensational news broadcast by BBC TV, regarding children dying on a daily basis, does not reflect the current broad reality on the ground and the full preparation that has gone into overcoming the problem,” the embassy said in the statement.

On the ground the Ethiopian government has responded to the drought by distributing more than 400,000 tons of wheat in the affected regions and says it has allocated nearly $200 million for relief efforts, The Guardian reported.