Ethiopia Still Requires Food Aid, But Situation Is Improving

Its amazing what peace can actually do. In Ethiopia, crop production in 2004 was 24 percent higher than in the 2003, and 21 percent higher than the average of the previous five years according to a report by the Food and Agriculture Organization and World Food Program.

Ethiopia is not yet food self-sufficient, however, but it is slowly edging to that point. In 2004, for example, Ethiopia required 965,000 tons of food to help prevent hunger among 7 million people who lacked enough food. This year it will only require about 387,500 tons of food to aid 2.2 million people who are at risk of not having enough food.

In part, that food aid is needed due to drought in the eastern and southern parts of the country. But in the northern and western country — with Ethiopia’s war with Eritrea over for the moment — farmers were able to concentrate on improving yields with better seeds and fertilizer.


Ethiopia’s crop production up 24%. The BBC, February 2, 2005.

Boutros Boutros Ghali Predicts Regional Water Wars

In an interview with the BBC, former United Nations Secretary Boutros Boutros Ghali predicted that conflicts would soon arise between countries in the Nile basin over rights to water that flows through the Nile.

Egypt has long been the largest user of water from the Nile, but countries upstream are coming closer to more intensively using that water, which Boutros Ghali predicts will lead to conflict between Egypt and countries such as Ethiopia, Tanzania and Kenya.

Boutros Ghali noted that Egypt’s population has more than tripled over the last 50 years and is still growing, putting heavy demand on Nile water resources. Boutros Ghali told the BBC,

The security of Egypt is related to the relation between Egypt and Ethiopia, Sudan, Kenya and other African countries. The real problem is that we need an additional quantity of water and we will not have an additional quantity of water unless we find an a agreement with the upstream countries which also need water and have not used Nile water until now.

But the BBC interview failed to mention a major overriding problem with water in the Middle East and Africa — it is almost universally mismanaged, since it relies on bureaucracies setting water targets and policies rather than letting markets dictate the true cost of water.

In Egypt, for example, 85 percent of water goes to agriculture, and agricultural water use is micromanaged to the point where government committees plan out a year in advanced which crops will be allowed to grow where and how water will be allocated among them. Not surprisingly the result is large-scale inefficiency and misallocation of water resources.

Mismanagement of water is almost universal, even in countries such as the United States which don’t yet have severe water problems. But places like the Middle East and Northern African simply cannot afford to protect industries or individuals from the true cost and scarcity of water. Unfortunately, doing so is likely to prove very politically unpopular, but one can always hope that developing countries might prefer transparent markets in water to conflicts between states that may lead to larger problems, while leaving the underlying problem uncorrected.


Ex-UN chief warns of water wars. Mike Thompson, The BBC, February 2, 2005.

You Mean Genocide and Corruption Aren’t Good for the Economy?

Speaking at a conference in Ethiopia, United Nations investment analyst stated the obvious — investors don’t want to put their money into Africa when they see genocide in Sudan, civil war in Ivory Coast, and the sort of endemic corruption in countries like Zimbabwe.

According to the BBC, Africa as a whole only sees about $15 billion total each year. That’s just pathetic.

Moreover, even in countries where there are not ongoing wars or endemic corruption, there is plenty to trouble investors. South African president Thabo Mbeki’s close relationship and support of Zimbabwe strongman Robert Mugabe, for example, must surely give some investors pause.

Unfortunately, there seems to be no end in sight to such problems, as Africa seems unable to get itself off a vicious cycle of war and corruption.


Africa conflicts ‘scare investors’. The BBC, November 22, 2004.

Ethiopia and the International Monetary Fund at Loggerheads Over Privatization

Ethiopian officials complained in September about International Monetary Fund requirements that it privatize several industries in order to receive further IMF aid. Ethiopia formally rejected IMF requirements that it privatize state-run telecommunications, power and water utilities.

The IMF agreed on a $190 million loan to Ethiopia in 2002 to reduce poverty in that country, and provided it with an emergency loan of $14.3 million in August 2003 to combat the effects of drought.

In a press release announcing the August loan, IMF Deputy Managing Director and Acting Chairman Shigemitsu Sugisaki said of Ethiopia’s economic performance,

Recent economic performance has been seriously affected by a severe drought in 2002, the worst in many years. As a result of the drought and a sharp drop in cereal production, real GDP declined in 2002/03, and food prices rose markedly. An estimated 12.6 million people are in need of food assistance.

Despite this shock, Ethiopia’s performance during the second annual program was broadly satisfactory. All the quantitative performance criteria and benchmarks through December 2002, as well as the indicative targets for end-March 2003, were observed. In particular, the introduction of the value-added tax was carried out in January 2003, a performance contract was signed with the Commercial Bank of Ethiopia (CBE) in June 2002, and an audit of the CBE by independent auditors was completed in May 2003, after a delay of four months. The ongoing decentralization of fiscal powers to woredas (local districts), however, contributed to delays in the implementation of structural benchmarks (and HIPC Initiative completion point triggers) related to the improvement of public expenditure management.

Ethiopia apparently wants to retain a controlling interest in any utilities that it privatizes, even though at the moment the state industries represent a drain on Ethiopia’s budget.

Meanwhile, the World Bank and IMF plan to send representatives to Ethiopia by the end of November to evaluate Ethiopia’s progress in making structural changes that it agreed to in order to receive the 2002 loan.


Ethiopia hits out at IMF. The BBC, September 1, 2003.

Ethiopia rejects IMF proposal to privatize loss-making state firms. Agence-France Press, August 31, 2003.

IMF to send experts to review EthiopiaÂ’s achievements. Tamiru Geda, CapitalEthiopia.Com, September 29, 2003.

IMF Completes Review Under Ethiopia’s PRGF Arrangement and Approves US$14.3 Million Disbursement. Press Release, International Monetary Fund, August 28, 2003.

Ethiopian Immigrant Charged with Circumcising 2-Year-Old Daughter

An Ethiopian immigrant living in Atlanta, Georgia, was recently charged in that state for allegedly mutilating the genitals of his 2-year-old daughter. In Ethiopia, female genital mutilation is believed to be widespread, with as many as 70-90 percent of adult women having been subjected to it.

Khalid Adem, 27, is accused of using a pair of scissors to to mutilated his daughter sometime in 2001 when the girl was just 2-years-old. Authorities were made aware of the female genital mutilation after the girl’s mother — who says she was unaware of what had happened — took her for an apparently routine doctor’s visit. Adem has since been charged with cruelty to children and aggravated battery.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that The Centers for Disease Control and PRevention estimates that as many as 160,000 young girls and women in immigrant communities in the United States have experience female genital mutilation.

Adem’s family appeared at a preliminary hearing maintaining that his family did not practice female genital mutilation and that the mother of the girl was using this as part of a divorce case. Police testified that the 4-year-old girl told her doctor that Adem had performed the procedure on her while a friend of Adem’s held her legs.


Ethiopian in George charged with circumcising 2-year-old daughter. Associated Press, April 4, 2003.

Family defends man in circumcision case. Lateef Mungin, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, April 8, 2003.

Man accused of circumcising girl. Lateef Mungin, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, March 29, 2003.

Illegal Abortions a Major Killer of Women in Ethopia

According to the World Health Organization, complications arising from illegal abortions are now the second leading cause of death for young women in Ethiopia. Only tuberculosis kills more young women in that poverty-stricken nation.

Abortion is illegal in Ethiopia except in cases where the mother’s life is in danger, but illegal abortions are easy to obtain and widespread. According to WHO, the death rate from illegal abortions in Ethiopia is a staggering 1,209 per 100,000 abortions. In the United States, by contrast, the death rate from legal abortions is about 1 per 100,000.

A number of factors help to make the death rate so high, including a lack of access to contraception, a very low literacy rate among women (only about 14 percent of women are literate), and Ethiopia’s poverty which leads to only about US $1.50 per person being spent on health care resources annually.


High Death Rate from Illegal Abortions. UN Integrated Regional Information Networks, October 28, 2002.

Teens Pay The Deadly Price Of Religious Taboo. Tewedaj Kebede, Panos, July 2001.

Many Ethiopian Teens Dying from Illegal Abortions. Women’s E-News, November 4, 2002.