Big changes are underway in Ethiopia, WFP's largest country of operations. A fast-growing economy is reducing the number of people living in extreme poverty (from 38 percent to 29 percent over the last decade). The government has made strides in expanding its health networks and combating HIV/AIDS, and hundreds of thousands of new pupils enter Ethiopian schools every year.
Despite these positive advances, Ethiopia remains one of the world's most food-insecure countries, where approximately one in three people live below the poverty line. The 2014 Humanitarian Requirement Document (HRD) released in January by the Government of Ethiopia and the humanitarian community, estimates that 2.7 million Ethiopians will need food assistance in 2014 due to droughts and other short-term shocks.
WFP is working with the government and our partners to strengthen the resilience of Ethiopians and to chart a more prosperous and sustainable future for the next generation. In 2014, WFP Ethiopia plans to assist nearly 6.5 million vulnerable people with food and special nutritional assistance, including school children, farmers, people living with HIV/AIDS, mothers and infants, refugees and many others.
Ethiopia faces new challenges, with the arrival of tens of thousands of South Sudanese refugees who fled the fighting that erupted in their country in mid-December. By the end of this year, humanitarian agencies forecast Ethiopia could be hosting roughly 150,000 or more South Sudanese refugees. WFP is responding by offering food assistance in camps and at border points. In addition, we are meeting the needs of nearly 400,000 other refugees, including those from Somalia and Eritrea.
WFP also works to help prevent hunger in the future. We do this through programmes that use food as a means to build assets, spread knowledge and nurture stronger, more dynamic communities. This helps communities become more food secure.
Under the Ethiopian government’s MERET programme, WFP aims to provide food assistance in 2014 to nearly 650,000 people participating in environmentally friendly public work projects such as sustainable land and water management. WFP also plans to offer similar assistance this year to 1.2 million Ethiopians involved in public works projects like building roads and schools as part of the next phase of the government’s Productive Safety Net Programme (PSNP)
Our Purchase for Progress Programme (P4P) aims to strengthen the management and marketing capacities of smallholder farmers. This year WFP plans to purchase 40,000 tons of maize and haricot beans from P4P farmers - double our 2013 purchases. WFP will use that food for our various programmes, cutting the cost of importing food while boosting the local economy. For example food grown by P4P farmers is used in the Home Grown School Feeding initiative which provides a daily hot meal to some 40,000 children. This is part of the WFP’s school feeding programme benefitting 670,000 children from food-insecure families.
WFP also offers special nutritional supplements to the most vulnerable Ethiopians - including pregnant women, nursing mothers, children under 5 and those living with HIV/AIDS. And we continue to find new and innovative ways of delivering our assistance, such as through cash and voucher pilots for our relief and refugee operations.
WFP's Vulnerability and Analysis Mapping (VAM) unit has developed a variety of early warning tools to strengthen Ethiopia's fight against food insecurity - and assist the government's shift towards proactive disaster risk management. Our operations also serve the broader humanitarian community, notably through the construction of a new logistics hub in Djibouti, scheduled for completion in 2015, and by operating the UN Humanitarian Air Service (UNHAS), that serves UN agencies along with hundreds of other humanitarian organisations.