03 November 2011

Ethiopia and Drought: 1984 vs 2011

A24 Media and ONE have produced a video on Tigray, Ethiopia that looks at the difference between the 1984 famine that lead to events like Live Aid and the present drought that has contributed to the present famine in South Somalia. The press release says:
The project was led by Salim Amin, Chairman of A24 Media and son of Mo Amin, the Kenyan photojournalist known for his remarkable footage of the Ethiopian famine in the 1980s.

Salim and his film crew travelled to Tigray in Ethiopia, the place hardest hit by the 1984 famine and the place his father captured his best known footage.

What Salim found was a situation in stark contrast to the images his father captured. Long-term investments by governments, donors and local communities have allowed the community to develop agricultural programmes that are resilient to drought and help create a path out of poverty.
Yes, the video does not touch on everything and it is hard to precisely say that aid has lead to the present ability for the region to handle drought, but it is clear that development is taking place. The area is much better prepared to handle drought and the scale of its impact on farmers is significantly less than it was 27 years ago.

The lesson was obvious well before the famine was in full swing in Somalia, but this does drive home the point that agriculture capacity is one of the problems. The challenges in Somalia are many and the Kenyan incursion is not making things easier right now, but talking about how this was preventable is important from the communications side.  A video like this tells the story that self-sustainability in Horn of Africa nations is attainable.

The question is how much is attributed to aid and foreign assistance.