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Federal gov’t urges regional states to take more responsibility for addressing humanitarian needs, covering up to 70% of total requirement

According to the World Food Programme, 15.8 million people in Ethiopia require food assistance, with the majority of these individuals concentrated in drought- and conflict-affected regions such as Afar, Amhara, Oromia, and Tigray (Photo: France 24)

Addis Abeba – Following the endorsement of the national Disaster Risk Management (DRM) policy by the Council of Ministers in late February 2024, the federal government is urging regional states to independently cover at least 70% of their humanitarian needs.

According to information obtained by Addis Standard, regional governments have been directed by top officials, including Shiferaw Teklemariam, head of the federal Disaster and Risk Management Commission (DRMC), to take on a more significant role in addressing humanitarian needs.

The federal government’s latest initiative aims to achieve this through a two-pronged approach: fostering self-sufficiency via local production initiatives and allocating sufficient budgetary resources to support citizens during times of displacement or drought.

This development comes at a time when the number of people in need of humanitarian assistance in the country is skyrocketing.

Recently, the World Food Programme (WFP) disclosed that 15.8 million people in Ethiopia require food assistance. According to a May 2024 report from a UN agency, the majority of these individuals are concentrated in drought- and conflict-affected regions such as Afar, Amhara, Oromia, and Tigray.

Officials have been highlighting how escalating humanitarian requirements are taking a toll on the government’s coffers.

While presenting the ministry’s nine-month report to parliament in May 2024, Finance Minister Ahmed Shide highlighted Ethiopia’s fiscal challenges stemming from instability and substantial humanitarian spending.

He specifically pointed out that instability in certain regions has significantly increased the costs of humanitarian aid and reconstruction efforts.

During the parliamentary session, his deputy, Eyob Tekalgn, also emphasized the need for regional governments to boost revenue generation and enhance their financial self-sufficiency to address the escalating financial demands.

Although the latest initiative was rolled out in October 2023 during a meeting of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, chaired by the Deputy Prime Minister of Ethiopia, it gained momentum following the policy’s approval four months ago.

During the meeting, a consensus was reached that regional states would be responsible for covering 70% of humanitarian requirements, while the federal government would cover the remaining 30%.

On June 25, 2024, officials from the federal Disaster and Risk Management Commission and its regional counterparts held a web discussion to review the preparatory work done so far to enable regions and city administrations to independently meet humanitarian needs.

Due to conflict and violence, millions of people remain displaced in Ethiopia (Photo: AFP) 

In an interview with Addis Standard, Moges Edaie, head of Busa Gonofa Oromia (Oromia Disaster Prevention and Preparedness Commission), disclosed the details and agreements reached during last week’s meeting.

“The government came to this decision mainly because of the decrease in foreign aid,” he stated. “Since natural disasters and conflicts are increasing, it has been decided that regional states will have greater responsibilities.”

In February 2024, a US$3.2 billion humanitarian response plan was launchedIn February 2024, a US$3.2 billion humanitarian response plan was launched to provide vital humanitarian aid to millions of Ethiopians facing severe crises. to provide vital humanitarian aid to millions of Ethiopians facing severe crises. However, as of April 23, only $287 million had been funded, according to the UN.

In April 2024, a high-level pledging event in Geneva, co-sponsored by Ethiopia, Britain, and the United Nations, garnered $630 million in pledges—$370 million shy of the targeted US$1 billion.

According to Moges, the Oromia region is actively working towards achieving the initiative’s goal. “We are mobilizing resources to realize the objective,” he stated.

Moges further indicated that one way to achieve the objective is by acquiring farmland within the region and producing the necessary food items. “Based on the directives provided by the federal government, the required amount of land to be cultivated has been allocated to each region,” he disclosed.

To achieve this goal, regional bureaus have been instructed to provide assistance. “For instance, Regional Agriculture Bureaus will assist by providing agricultural inputs such as improved seeds,” he explained.

Moges emphasized that the Oromia region had been implementing this approach even before the federal government established it as a directive for all regions.

“Since the Oromo community has a longstanding tradition of cooperation and mutual support, we have been fostering this value,” he revealed. “By following this approach, we have been able to garner over 24 million members so far.”

In addition to collecting monthly contributions from members, Moges indicated that resources have been collected in the form of gifts and donations.

“We will build warehouses in the 21 zones of the Oromia region during the current winter season. We will store agricultural products in these warehouses so that, in times of need, we can provide support by utilizing these stocks,” he explained.

According to Moges, all regional states have been engaged in preparatory work since October 2023.

“Although regional states have not yet achieved the goal of covering 70% of the humanitarian requirements, they have been supporting their communities by allocating sufficient budgets for the purchase of essential food items,” he explained. AS

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