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Have you eaten today?

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: Africa, Humanitarian, Nutrition

I assume that if you have internet access (and perhaps own a computer) then you've probably eaten without thinking, as many of us do every day.  There's nothing wrong with that.

Go to the World Food Day site

I'm writing this as we mark World Food Day.  Living in Ethiopia - which has over 6 million people relying on emergency food aid - World Food Day feels particular relevant.  What are the causes of the current food crisis here?  A combination of the global spike in food and oil prices this year and a couple of consecutive failed harvests.   If you don't have much to start with, you and your family are vulnerable to being pushed into needing emergency assistance.

DFID has provided £42m this year to help respond to the food crisis in the Horn of Africa, which includes Ethiopia.  Saving lives like this seems like a good use of money to me.  But as Head of DFID's programme in Ethiopia, I'm conscious that emergency aid doesn't represent the best value for money.  It's far more cost-effective to stop people needing food aid in the first place.  This is exactly what the 'productive safety nets' programme aims to achieve in Ethiopia, providing cash and food for work and helping people stop having to sell off vital assets when times are particularly hard.

In the long-term, development assistance needs to prioritise agricultural growth and productivty, if we're to make sure that in years to come everyone, no matter where they live, has enough to eat.  In a nutshell, that's what World Food Day is all about.

We should aspire to a future where World Food Day isn't necessary.  But will there always be hungry people?

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  1. Comment by Owen abroad » Blog Archive » World Food Day - Worry about incomes, not food production posted on

    [...] one of DFID’s splendid new blogs, Howard Taylor, Head of DFID Ethiopia , emphasizes the need for greater agricultural production: In the long-term, development assistance needs to prioritise agricultural growth and productivty, [...]

  2. Comment by Sebastyanos Beyene posted on

    Dear Mr Taylor,
    To begin with,welcome to your new posting,where once again my challenging country has brought many dedicated people like yourself and coleagues to the forefront of the battle to eradicate hunger.
    My message and quesion though,is that no matter the emphasis on the need for greater agricultural production,without accepting the need for GM production,the once again missed targets,rain shortage.....not to mention ill thought out land policy and sheer incompetence mantra will be the norm.I know this is a sensitive subject(cultural & so forth)but a stand is due on this issue,and hopefully you can lead a debate on this pertinent question.

  3. Comment by Michael Saunby posted on

    Sebastyanos makes a very good point. The only way to give an improved and sustainable quality of life for the population of Ethiopia is if she is able to feed herself every year and in good years have surplus to sell to he neighbours.

    As I'm not an aid worker when I visited Ethiopia last year I chose to visit an area where there were productive farms with no droughts and no fighting, and it was an altogether fantastic experience. BUT.. the farms had no machinery, the farmers were illiterate, and there was almost no support for their development. Now it might seem to many that Ethiopia has bigger problems, but I reckon not. If these farmers aren't enabled to increase their production, many of their fellows in more challenging regions will continue to starve.

    Though Western aid is always well intentioned, the road to hell is similarly paved. If aid investment was made on a commercial basis a lot more money would go to those who had shown a capacity to produce, in order that they produce more.
    Oh and some of the children in Nekemte called me "China". I guess they don't see many Europeans these days.

    As for GM. Is it really that dangerous in Africa? It seems to be very effective in producing cheap feed for European and American livestock. Ethiopia does have a great deal of livestock to feed.

  4. Comment by Sebastian Beyene posted on

    Well,in terms of GM foods,Agricultural Food production... we look forward to tonights promising program on HORIZON:BBC 2/ 9.00PM (25.11.08).I hope we can use this medium as an exchange.Thanks. SSB.

  5. Comment by Maida Lavene posted on

    It’s hard to seek out educated people on this subject, however you sound like you recognize what you’re talking about! Thanks