Friday, July 25, 2014

Building food security in Ethiopia

IRIN: Ethiopia’s Productive Safety Net Programme (PSNP), set up in 2005, aims to make fully food secure the millions of people still dependent on food aid, provide support to the vulnerable to prevent the depletion of livestock, and create productive assets at community level. But nearly a decade on and over US$3 billion spent, how successful has it been?

PSNP claims to be a programme that bridges the response gap between emergency relief and long-term development aid, and helps build resilience.  Initially, it was available in four regions - Tigray, Amhara, Oromiya, and the Southern Nations and Nationalities’ Peoples’ Region - and was later extended to the more remote regions of Afar (in 2006) and the Somali Region (2007), according to the World Bank, one of its main backers.

The Ethiopian government spends 1.1 percent of GDP on PSNP and a complementary scheme called the Household Asset Building Program (HABP).  Both schemes are largely donor funded. The current phase of PSNP (2010-2014) which includes HABP, costs more than $2 billion. Donors include the World Bank, International Development Association (IDA), the US Agency for International Development (USAID), Danish International Development Assistance (DANIDA), UK Department for International Development (DFID), European Commission, the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA), the governments of Canada, Ireland, Netherlands and the World Food Programme and the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

PSNP provides transfers - cash or food - to between six and eight million chronically food insecure Ethiopians for six months each year, according to DFID. At least 85 percent of the beneficiaries receive cash transfers as wages for labour on small-scale public works projects. These projects are selected by the community and contribute to environmental rehabilitation and local economic development, while 15 percent are “direct support” beneficiaries (disabled, elderly, pregnant or lactating women) who receive unconditional transfers.

Both donors and the government have become increasingly aware that PSNP does not really help secure those who have very limited or no assets against shocks, and help them “graduate” from a chronic situation to a state of food security....

Food aid at Dolo Kobe camp in Ethiopia, USAID photo

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