Ethiopia receives World Bank financing to help 8.3 million food insecure people through 2015 By Keffyalew Gebremedhin

April 9th, 2012 Print Print Email Email

Although Ethiopia has been fighting to get past its hunger and famine image, it has hardly managed to do so with several million people still dependent on international food aid — just to be alive.

It should not come as surprise that, during a presentation on 4 April 2012 at Stanford University, California, in response to a questioner’s concern about Ethiopian productivity and the various policy bottlenecks and poverty-related problems, Bill Gates explained, “Ethiopia is a very interesting case, because it has more food insecure people who need food aid than any country in the world.”

This is the kind of truism that annoys Prime Minister Meles Zenawi. We now know that the task of ‘overhauling Ethiopian agriculture’, which has been taking place with utmost secrecy is now becoming public knowledge. For instance, following the meeting Meles Zenawi had with USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah on April 5, 2012, the Ethiopian News Agency, quoting a foreign ministry official for the first time reported that the two “discussed as to how overhaul the agriculture system in Ethiopia.”

That article should be honored for cryptically signaling a watershed in Ethiopian agriculture, which I would not dare to call it a new beginning.

In fact, the deal was done with Bill Gates on 28 March, after “a couple of hours” of haggling in his first trip to Ethiopia. It appears that he has won a few concessions and leaving the rest for future contacts, which he described as “another chapter”, during his presentation. This page would discuss it in a forthcoming article.

Ethiopia is still a country of several million people that are in dire need of assistance — possibly for a long time to come — just to be alive. It is unlikely we have learnt as a nation that either denying altogether the existence of widespread hunger in the country or covering it up even in the early phases of harsh droughts, as some human lives and substantial livestock perish, helps. The way forward is greater openness and transparency and facing the problem head on.

We are staring at a very serious problem in Ethiopia. The reason — Bill Gates says, “Their agriculture is not working…they had messed up in terms of fertilizer distribution, farmer education, not using the latest varieties of the crops.”

He is optimistic though that the project he now is helping through the Agricultural Transformation Agency (ATA), the Gates Foundation recommended its creation to Meles Zenawi and is accepted. In hoping against hope, one should expect that Gates the entrepreneur and the philanthropist would make important achievements. However, Ethiopians may not expect much out of it, as Mr. Gates seems to want and believe. Removal of the obstacles in fornt of his project and the scientific community calls for tackling the Ethiopian developmental problem in a holistic manner.

Productive Safety Net Project (PSNP)

In the meantime, the task of saving lives must be left to others. For six years now, the problem of killer hunger in Ethiopia has officially been contained, not by the productive capacity of Ethiopia’s economy but by international food aid, euphemistically called Productive Safety Net Program (PSNP). Even at this very moment, according to reports filtering out of the country, in some remote corners people are dying of hunger, the situation worsening because of the terrible food shortages resulting from the last drought and the longstanding double-digit food inflation that has made food inaccessible.

The magnitude of the problem seems to be in line with recent conclusion by the International Food Policy Institute (IFPRI), which acknowledges, “Ethiopia’s government safety net program, for example, reaches 8 million people [under normal times] but covers only about 25 percent of the country’s poor.”

There is no doubt that the PSNP has helped save several million lives, ranging from 7.5 million people under normal times, to higher ups by several millions. Nevertheless, the project has a number of problems, especially about the graduation criteria of beneficiaries. The World Bank blames the government; government blames donors. Most of all, a few experts in the World Bank have doubts, and rightly so, that the success of the project is dependent on a poorly constructed tool of assessing graduating beneficiaries.

Moreover, its role should not be confused with other development activities/initiatives, since that is not PSNP’s role. The PSNP is only another means of keeping alive the millions of people it has been supporting since 2005. It is a fact that only a small number of beneficiaries get to successfully graduate from that program, some thousands, not to speak of returnees into the program.

Therefore, if there is genuine interest in changing this situation, I mean in the interests of the beneficiaries, the World Bank and its patrons must look beyond the mere handing out food aid and small amounts of cash. These activities must be calibrated, in the interest of the beneficiaries, to facilitate their graduation — judging their situation with appropriate yardsticks. this would help them stand on their two feet and become self-supporting and self-sustaining productive citizens.

The existing measures are not efficient, as even the press release, announcing the approval of a credit of $370 million toward the beneficiaries, seems to belabor. It is announced therein that the beneficiaries number would reach 8.3 million by 2015. In addition to the other problems discussed above, the number of beneficiaries is simply dubious. How did they get to that number, why not even possibly on the upper or lower end.

In such a press release, the Bank speaks to the people around the world. But I regret to say it acts, as if it does not take into account, if at all, the evaluation reports written about its work, especially regarding the very subject we are discussing. If it continues to do this, it would hurt its own credibility, giving the impression that it is behaving like some propaganda addicted governments.

In this regard, I should point out that the evaluation report is generous in rating the Bank’s performance as SATISFACTORY, and the government’s MODERATELY SATISFACTORY.

I am referring here to the evaluation report by the Independent Evaluation Group and the recommendations thereon. For instance, in its June 2011 report entitled, ROJECT PERFORMANCE ASSESSMENT REPORT: PRODUCTIVE SAFETY NET PROJECT (CR. 4004, IDA Grant H136, TF056013), it highlighted the problems around PSNP and recommended further work in respect of the management and how the project should be reformulated to serve the interests of the beneficiaries’ successful graduation from PSNP, instead of keeping them dependent on aid or pushing them out–fore prestige sake–before they are equipped to face life with their own means.

Here is one of the problems the evaluation group has identified:

Despite widespread public, government and donor support for the PSNP (including financial resourcing until 2015) and the many improvements made, there remain significant risks to the program.

First, claims that political affiliations influence access to the PSNP continue, despite the Bank putting numerous safeguards in place, including monitoring systems and independent evaluations.

Second, Ethiopia has the ninth fastest growing population in the world with an annual increase of more than three percent. Given the importance attached to graduation from the PSNP (i.e. raising household income such that it is no longer food insecure) and reversing the trend in chronic food insecurity, population growth is likely to undermine progress towards achieving the very ambitious goals of the PSNP and may undermine government and donor support for the program.

Third, donor willingness to fund the PSNP is partly influenced by government performance on governance and democracy and this remains a significant risk to development outcomes in the PSNP.

Finally, government commitment to the PSNP was (and continues to be) dependent on unrealistic graduation objectives that involve highly ambitious objectives of reducing food insecurity.

Press here to read the full press release issued by the World Bank

*This article is reissued after correcting some errors in the original relating to some financial data and related editorial reasons. Our apologies for that!

  1. Tadele Yemir
    | #1

    This ETA thing smells a lot like Weyanne & Weyanne. Most of the big people in it are Tigrians. My warning to Mr Bill Gate is ETA can be an another organization set up to do work for all Ethiopians but in reality works day and night to empower the Golden people. My friends, if Mr Bill doesn’t know who these golden people in Ethiopia are, in my opinion he didn’t do his homework, so he should go back to drawing board. Zenwai has mastered all the tricks in the world doing that already for the last 20 years. He is up to something here, but only time will show what. My recommendations to Mr Bill Gate is to hire one or two non-Tigrains preferably of an Oromo and Amahra decadent of non-Ethiopian citizens preferably an American for their own personal security reason and empower them with authority. The other important issue and we need to see in organization set up by Mr. Bill money is an absolute and complete transparency. I also hope that someone like Mr. Wondwossen Mezlekia gives a close scrutiny to this entity as well he does to ECX an organization setup to create and disseminate an information asymmetry to benefit Guna and the like of them.

  2. Girum
    | #2

    The capitalist system systematically and clandestinely plunders and robes you to starvation and then it stretches its hand as if it is a philanthropist. It takes away or cheats you systematically 100 dollar from you and when you get starved or impoverished to death then it gives you back some 5 dollars as donation or as loans as if it is kindly. The entire game in capitalist system has gradually evolved in to such a huge pool of Ponzi-Scheme. Due to SAP(Structural Adjustment Programs) that is called as the “Economic-Medicine” of IMF and World-Bank that has been systematically implemented in 3rd world countries, then the entire mass has been systematically plunged in to impoverishment and the aftermath political economical and social chaos. Such financial institutions institutions established under Bretton-Woods agreement following world war-II are mainly such a strong instruments of Anglo-American Global-Capitalism Empire. It may seem thy help as but in reality is what they help us is what they have already robbed us systematically in advance. There is no such a thing as pure and humanly humanitarian philanthropy in capitalism. Nations are systematically and clandestinely lulled and trapped in to ‘debt’ hostage in which they must not be indebted in the first place because it can not be paid as it is economically inefficient in the first place. Most of the time when a nation is made hostage of certain debt trap who mainly benefits from such indebtedness are transnational companies who make unfair business that is not that much beneficial to the mass. So the mass is systematically made indebted for which the mass is not as such aware, responsible and beneficiary. And then when a nation is indebted then it is heinously and systematically being prepared for massive plundering of all it resources, in what is called “Asset Grab” in order to ‘pay’ the debt. What has been tragically happening in Greek and others PIGS(Portugal Ireland Greek and Spain) especially in Greek is such Ponzi-Scheme of global Capitalism.
    So the main insidious scheme of global capitalism is to make nations, especially the mass, to get ‘indebted’ in unfair and immoral and economically inefficient debt trap so that it shall not have a right to say anything on its nation’s resources. So today in Ethiopia and all other 3rd world nations the price of food and other basic consumable necessity items has been deliberately made to skyrocket in price in order to systematically plunder and impoverish the mass. And if the mass is impoverished to this extent of misery then it bows and becomes subservient to elites of the global capitalists system if it is so brainwashed and becomes so docile plebs. And if the mass is well conscious of the very source of its misery that is this all sabotage, plundering implemented in ponzi-scheme then it will say no and then revolt against the system. There is no any scientific or moral and rational basis for the very few capitalist elites (even less that even 0.01) percent to make the global mass their debt hostage and slave. There is no any reason that our TPLF mafia style regime claims that it is subsidizing edible oil and wheat while in reality it is not subsidizing us while the mass is even being unfairly robed by unfair skyrocketing prices.
    If I was able to buy one litter of oil for 20 birr and then all of a sudden its price is deliberately made to skyrocket to 50 Birr and under this condition if the government is still claiming that is is subsiding for edible oil how come I have to accept this joke and game? Before 2 or 3 months I heard that around 500 million children world wide are at risk due to malnutrition. The very reason is the unfair immoral inhuman capitalist system that has made the price of food to skyrocket for the sake of money capital wealth accumulation mainly driven by Ponzi-scheme of speculation manipulated by global market speculators. It is by very few global stock market speculators that the fate of billions poor peoples around the world is decides. So first they systematically plunder us and make us starved till death and when we are in a our last ghastly moments of death then thy come and throw us a penny from what they have already robbed us in advance and then thy claim they help as Look what is happening in Ethiopia. Yes the exporters like EFFORT takes away our organic healthy food for export and in return same exporters made us in return to import in-organic junk food and when we are ill due to this junk food then they also provide us junk medication. This is how the very few becomes richer and richer from time to time while to the contrary the mass becomes poorer and poorer. It is like a Zero-sum game. Look what is even happening in ECX(Ethiopian Commodity Exchange).ECX is indirectly the property of TPLF like EFFORT.ECX is starving and impoverishing the Ethiopian mass in order to make undeserved highest possible profit for the very few speculators and brokers who control the market under the disguise of export driven market. Recently I read some where that Alamudin told that one of the hotels in Dubai fully uses Ethiopian exported fruits and vegetables. Here locally the mass is malnutrition to death. To the contrary junk foods and expired foods with attractive coverage are made imported to feed the mass. Though TPLF claims that it advances and follows AGLI(Agriculturally Led Industry)what we see still today is starvation and donation in that still after 20 solid years we do not achieve food-security. TPLF is making its own dirty business and dirty politics on the rural farmer society.For the last 20 years TPLFites have been devouring the rural as well as the urban population. As long as such parasitic rent-seeking comprador elite is not toppled and perished how on earth the mass can get out of such severe impoverishment and misery? What we see as wealth creation in Ethiopia by few comprador parasitic rent seeking society, especially the TPLFites, is almost the result of the impoverishment and misery of the mass.I do not have that much trust that such financial institutions like Wolrd bank and IMF do any thing long-lasting good for the mass. They are rather the ones who have been creating havoc and misery in 3rd world nations. Recently the uprising in Nigeria was the result of direct IMF order to the then government to remove fuel subsidy. The mass got strong to revolt and then restored the situation to previous subsidy. Similarly World bank contributed such a great deal for the problems created regarding food-security in Ethiopia. The Bill gates foundation has also been working in Ethiopia as ‘philanthropy’ in order to disseminate GMO(Genetically Modifies Seed) in Ethiopia. The previous bio-diversity is gradually perishing like a Dinosaur and is being replaced by GMO. For some one who has the knowledge of GMO then it is not something obscure what sort of danger is lurking a head of us. The heinous clandestine motive behind the donation of such philanthropist is this.For every penny we receive today be it as donation or as loan it is expected that individually we shall not pay it back. But the entire nation and the coming generation will pay it back in its misery and impoverishment. When donor nations give us donation or loan they already know that we shall not pay them back for ever in cash. But their plan is to make us massively indebted and become their hostage slaves for ever so that we are not able to pay them back but they will take the nation in its entirety as their trophy. The problem with us is that we easily get lulled and cheated for every penny thrown to us and do not think farsightedly what we shall potentially loose in return for the future.
    The loan and donation is mainly intended to lull, bribe and trap the local comprador rent-seeking parasitic stooge client-regimes like TPLF. So the mutual symbiotic relation ship is mainly between the global capitalists system and the local national comprador rent-seeking parasitic stooge client-regimes like TPLF and associated elites. So the mass is just a miserable slave between the two symbiotic evils. So many intellectuals have missed the very insidious and clandestine intention and motive such amazing unrestrained loan and donation to 3rd world client-regime nations like TPLF despite the fact that such TPLF regimes are severely despotic and plundering. For TPLF and Global Capitalism the entire nation like us is not something worth to be properly ruled by good governance or democracy but rather it is such a huge market place as certain “black-box” entity to make business for profit as usual in its entirety.
    And hence though TPLF is claiming as AGLI, well indeed the motive behind AGLI is only to make business for TPLF. Who is provider of fertilizers for the farmers? Is it not TPLF-EFFORT? In order to get fertilizers the farmers are becoming political hostages for TPLF. And like wise when GMO is implemented in Ethiopia who is making business from it in importing the inevitable GMO related pesticides and seeds? Is it not EFFORT? With such chronic system how comes we are able to become food-secured? So the entire game during the last 20 solid years is economically how to make the usual game of dirty business on the entire nation in order to plunder and despoil it and politically like wise how to racially discriminate the mass and then make it hostile to each other for the sake of divide-and-rule so that the nation will eventually become a complete subservient hostage to local comprador elites as well as their MASTER global capitalists system. For me real help is to help others so that they can help themselves in the long run. To plunder and robe other in to massive impoverishment and then give back some penny for he sake survival is not a real help for me. Capitalism tries to be philanthropist in this regard in order to mask or camouflage its inherent evil inner workings. How can we get out of this perpetually devised insidious debt trap of Global Capitalism? Very vital question we have to ask and answer. How some one is critically ‘indebted’ in such perpetual debt trap can achieve real freedom and real democracy in the first place? If a nation is indebted like the way we see in Greek and other then it is like some terrorist is kidnapping or hijacking and is making you hostage so that you are entirely blackmailed to do what ever you are ordered to do so. Therefore, for the last 20 solid years of TPLF rule, who mainly benefited and to the opposite get hurt from loan and donation? TPLF and its closely working affiliated Global Capitalists system have got the main benefit. Who get lost and hurt is the majority mass. The problem with us is that we can easily and immediately see overtly the results of donations and loans manifested in the luxurious livelihoods of very few comprador elites. But we are blinded and failed to envisage the insidious damage covertly and gradually taking place against the “Common-Goods” in the big nation and its peoples in its entirety. Yes in return for such misleading donations and loans upon which very few parasitic societies benefit, then the mass have been systematically loosing its “Common-Goods” that are of very survival nature. Debt trap is the primary heinous inner workings and survival means of global Capitalism. And who is primarily benefited from such debt trap? TPLF and its affiliated global Capitalism.Who is a loser and sufferer of this sort of debt trap? The poor innocent MASS.
    As there is no such a thing as free lunch and hence there is no such a thing as philanthropy and donation, for that matter even real democracy, in the heydays era of global capitalism. So let’s no as such get lulled and mislead by donations and philanthropy. So finally I want to assert that please be aware that for every penny we receive as donation or loan let’s be wise and pragmatic what we are expected to give back in return either in kind or cash in the long term or the short term.

  3. ananymous
    | #3

    The title should read, “weyane receives another $8.3 million to kill, torture, and terrorise the Ethiopian people”. As the old say goes, fool me ones on you, fool me twice on me!

  4. code
    | #4

    woyane is working hand and glove with its backers to kill us.
    woyane means, hatred, division, poverty, lack, starvation, hunger, begging, torture, imprisonment, gagging of people, exile, rape, sale sale sale everything including women and children, incite ethnic violence, eviction, dispossession, war, harassment, kidnap, death,…………………..

  5. Gigi
    | #5


  6. Anonymous
    | #6

    This is the result when the country is being govern by a bunch of heartless, money hungry criminals who are getting filithy wealthy by draining the poor Ethiopians. Ethiopia could have fed itself and even the rest of Africa, if the government had invested the money in agriculture, than selling the most fertile land to foreigners. The number of Ethiopians who need help is under estimated by 50%. Most probably, the number of Ethiopians who go to bed on empty stomach in everyday basis, and the number of those who do without food, water and starve to death are probably close to 15 to 20 million Ethiopians, if not more. Simply, heartbreaking! Ethiopia has been under the most brutal dictatorship for the last 2o years of misery and the current starvation is caused by the coldblooded, ruthless TPLF. If Ethiopians don’t die of food shortage and lack of medical care, they get killed by Meles’s Agazi Army. The money worshiper Woyanes do not care if Ethiopians live or die and the Aid money once again will end up in woyanes pockets.

  7. Ethiopian from Minnesota, U.S.A
    | #7

    It is wonderful to have Ethiopian intellectuals around the world who can dissect and analyze the geopolitical as well as the socioeconomic status of this unfortunate poverty stricken country. It is amazing to read the literally attracting comments of participants of this forum. But what I haven’t come across to is suggestions to how we can solve this forty five years of hunger that the people of our beloved country have been suffering and dying from. We are continuously writing and commenting about the atrocity, cruelty, and undemocratic rule of Meles’s regime. But I haven’t read anything regarding the solutions how we can tackle this prolonged problem of the country. Blaming the westerners as neocolonialists or being suspicious of their goodwill show how much we are entrenched in our own negativity. We Ethiopians in diaspora haven’t done anything to alleviate the continuous pain and sufferings of the Ethiopian people. What have we done to fight the ongoing hunger? Yes, the members of Meles’s regime have enriched themselves. Yes, some of the members of his family and close associates have become filthy rich. Yes, his wife, Azebe, has become “Imalda Marcos” of Ethiopia, controlling every major business sector in the country including “kat or chat” export. At this moment we do not have any control to reverse this dirty actions of Meles’s regime. But we can play a big role by coordinating our actions to expose the ugly administration of Ethiopia’s current dictator. We can lobby the congress of USA on behalf of the Ethiopian people to reprimand their puppy Meles. Those in Canada, Western Europe, and Australia can do the same thing. Bill Gates is doing far better to help Ethiopians in Ethiopia than what we have done except keeping blaming Meles. Meles is not afraid of Ethiopians in Diaspora because for the last 22 years what we have done is talking the talk but not walking the walk. Until we come together to take a well coordinated action to expose the real nature of Meles’s regime and stop blaming the foreigners, we will be arguing on paper or online forums to satisfy our insatiable political ego, and that is not what is expected of us. Is there anyone who can propose or suggest how to go about coordinating a common action of exposing and fighting Meles’s regime? Come on Ethiopian political junkies, please coordinate the large majority of Ethiopians in Diaspora to stand up for the truth by fighting the incredible lies of Meles’s regime.

  8. Anonymous
    | #8

    Like you I’m also frustrated and angry that the most majority of Ethiopians are against the despicable dictator and TPLF mafia group, and yet, they are still in power dividing, terrorizing and robbing Ethiopians in every corner of the country. From your writing, I can see that you’re an intelligent and a capable person that can start some kind of associations with Ethiopians around your area and start a writing letters campaign to every powerful US senators or congress men and women, to major news media, accomplished people like Bill Gates, well known actors and actress that can make a difference as George Clooney has done in Darfur, etc. Just gather Ethiopians who live around your area and exchange ideas and start doing something tangible to stop the human suffering of our people at the hands of the most evil, insensitive, merciless subhuman Meles!

  9. Ethiopian from Minnesota, U.S.A
    | #9

    Dear, Anonymous: Thank you for your suggestion, and it can be done. The most difficult part is convincing Ethiopians to participate in signing the petitions.We talk about the cruel and tyrannical regime of Meles in the coffee shops or in their kitchens or on forums like this one, but hesitate to put their names on papers. We do not want to expose and sacrifice ourselves, but we wish that let somebody else do the fight and sacrifice. That is what I see in Ethiopians in my locality. In spite of that it is my duty and obligation to give voice to the voiceless Ethiopians back home. Let us start something tangible, as you said, and coordinate the actions.

  10. Anonymous
    | #10

    There are no Ethiopians around where I live and my writing skill is not good to write letters, but I started going to an evangelical Church just for this purpose, and start telling the Church members about the atrocities that is going on in Ethiopia and ask them if they could pray for them and write letters to their congress man and state senators to stop the suffering in Ethiopia and I also requested if they could add Ethiopia in their church bulletin every Sunday to pray for Ethiopia. If Ethiopians start telling at least one new person everyday about the atrocities going on in Ethiopia, soon the whole world start to know what Meles is doing to Ethiopians. Every time when someone ask me where I am from, I tell them where I’m from and also about the crimes of dictator Meles and how he gotten rich by American Tax Payers. If you’re a student tell every student you meet everyday, tell your coworkers what is going on in Ethiopia, tell your church members about the horrific crimes that is being committed on Ethiopians and ask for prayers and if they could write letters to their congress man/woman and their state senators. Be the voice to the voiceless Ethiopians in anyway possible.

  11. Shiferaw Shigute Yeyaz
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