Menu ENN Search

Food security in Eritrea and Ethiopia

Summary of published research1

The food security impact of the 1998-2000 border war between Eritrea and Ethiopia, and its legacy, is examined in a recent paper published in Disasters. The war claimed an estimated 80,000 lives and displaced up to one million people. The paper is based on research and consultancy work on food security and conflict in Eritrea and Ethiopia that the author has been involved in since 1987, as well as on related published and grey literature.

The author argues that successive food crises in these two countries are better seen not as isolated episodes, but as part of a longer-term trend of rising livelihood and health vulnerability among sizeable populations that live at the margins. According to the author, reversing the secular decline in people's resilience to shocks necessitates a longer-term commitment to measures that are more imaginative, holistic and participatory and based on a better analysis of complex livelihood processes and their regional and international dimensions.

Furthermore, the 1998-2000 border war and its unresolved tensions have had adverse effects on livelihoods that continue to be felt in many ways. These are not easily separated out from each other and from other political, social, demographic and environmental factors.

One way in which the war affected food security was through its impact on donor attitudes. The author suggests that the tragically slow donor response to the impending food crisis was a reflection of international pressure to end the war. This occurred in spite of the donor policy, announced at the time, to cut development aid to the two warring governments while maintaining support for humanitarian assistance. Moreover, this donor policy of 'principled conditionality' is inherently problematic, as much of what is characterised as development aid comprises initiatives necessary for addressing food insecurity and reducing the risk of famine.

Donors can draw a number of lessons from this experience. There is clearly a need for humanitarian responses to be rapid, genuinely unconditional and sensitive to needs that extend beyond food aid. But donors also need to give more thought, especially where authorities are involved in conflict, to an ethical framework within which decisions can be taken about what kind of conditionalities, if any, should be applied to aid interventions beyond emergency relief. Such decisions should reflect not only diplomatic objectives informed by sounder political economy analysis, but also a wider and longer-term perspective on what is happening to livelihoods and food security between crises. This applies to pastoralists and agro-pastoralists, as well as other rural and urban communities.

Show footnotes

1White P (2005). War and food security in Eritrea and Ethiopia, 1998-2000. Disasters, vol 29 (S1): S92-S113, 2005

More like this

FEX: Remittances and their economic impact in post-war Somaliland

Published paper1 War affected Somalia - Tarabuunka IDP Camp, Mogadishu. An enduring difficulty of assessing needs amongst certain emergency affected populations has been...

FEX: Long term strategies to target vulnerability in Somalia

Summary of published paper1 Food stall at IDP camp in the former Coca Cola factory in Mogadisho Aid agencies should reorient and expand existing interventions to assist poor...

FEX: A Review of the advances and challenges in nutrition in conflicts and crises over the last 20 years

Abbreviated version of unpublished paper Food distribution at the ICRC kitchen in Tonj. By Frances Mason and Anna Taylor This paper is a shortened version of the complete...

FEX: Issues and challenges for livelihoods programming in emergencies (Special Supplement 3)

8.1 Introduction The previous sections of this supplement have highlighted various challenges in livelihood support programming in emergencies. Most of these are within the...

FEX: From the editor

Ethiopia is a diverse country where a significant proportion of the population live on or below the poverty line, where food insecurity is widespread and rates of acute...

FEX: References for Special Supplement 3

Beatrice, a beneficiary of the CRS seed voucher scheme in Burundi 1. Abdulai A., Barret, C., Hoddinott, J. (2004, June). Does food aid really have disincentive effects? new...

FEX: References for Special Supplement 1

Women selling food in South Sudan AbuSaleh A, 1993. Cost effectiveness of feeding programs in Hartisheik A camp, for Somali refugees, Ethiopia 1988-1989. Unpublished report...

FEX: Critical gaps in drought response in Greater Horn of Africa

Summary of published research1 The drought currently affecting an estimated 11 million people in the Greater Horn of Africa is said to be the worst in more than a decade, with...

FEX: Rapid response and long-term solutions: Christian Aid and food security in Ethiopia

By Antoinette Powell Antoinette Powell is the Communications and Information Officer, Africa with Christian Aid since 2007. Previously she worked as Advocacy Officer, The...

FEX: Minimum standards in post-emergency phase

Summary of online published paper1 In the acute phase of complex humanitarian emergencies, assessment data on service delivery and health outcomes for interventions are...

FEX: Oxfam’s Somaliland-Ethiopia Cross Border Drought Preparedness Project

By Abay Bekele Abay Bekele works for Oxfam GB as Senior Pastoral Programme Manager. He has over nine years of technical and managerial experience in pastoral development and...

FEX: Targeting Emergency Food Aid – Experiences in Ethiopia

Summary of a Published Paper The Relief and Rehabilitation Network(RRN), has recently published a network paper entitled 'Between Relief and Development: targeting food aid for...

FEX: Nutrition Surveillance in Somalia

By Noreen Prendiville Noreen Prendiville has been involved in health, nutrition and food security programmes in East Africa over the past fifteen years and has a special...

FEX: Issue 22 Editorial

The more cynical amongst us in the emergency nutrition sector may sometimes be heard complaining that there is nothing new in this profession and that we just keep re-inventing...

FEX: Giving voice to silent emergencies

Summary of editorial1 A recent issue of Humanitarian Exchange focuses on 'Silent Emergencies'. According to the editorial, many emergencies do not attract significant amounts...

FEX: Disasters

Journal of Disaster Studies, Policy and Management Can YOU afford NOT to subscribe? Special offer to Field Exchange readers: £30.00 for four quarterly issues in 1999, plus the...

FEX: Inappropriate Interventions in the Great Lakes

Summary of published research1 The aid community has reacted to many crises in the Great Lakes region with a multitude of interventions aimed explicitly at improving the food...

FEX: Revisiting Sphere: new standards of service delivery for new trends in protracted displacement

Summary of research1 Protracted refugee situations (PRS) are those in which refugees find themselves in a long-lasting and intractable state of limbo. Roughly half of the...

FEX: Advocacy from Eritrea: working with WFP

By Hassan Taifour Hassan Taifour is the Emergency Response Nutritionist for SC(UK). He graduated from the Faculty of Agriculture, University of Khartoum in 1985 and completed...

FEX: Livestock and livelihoods in emergencies

Lessons learned during the 1999 - 2000 emergency response in Kenya Summary of report* "The provision of veterinary drugs, such as de-wormers, prolongs the life of an animal...

Close

Reference this page

Food security in Eritrea and Ethiopia. Field Exchange 27, March 2006. p6. www.ennonline.net/fex/27/foodsecurity

(ENN_2276)

Close

Download to a citation manager

The below files can be imported into your preferred reference management tool, most tools will allow you to manually import the RIS file. Endnote may required a specific filter file to be used.