Nov. 23 - As the worst drought in decades ravishes the Horn of Africa, Ethiopia is taking steps to avoid repeating the devastating famine of the 1980s. Deborah Gembara reports.
These images from Tigre Ethiopia from the 1980s made clear the impact drought could have on a population. Today as the worst drought in decades ravishes the Horn of Africa, the region at the epicenter of 1980's famine, looks very different. Lush valleys and tilled, terraced hillsides are busy with activity and fields are full of ripening cereals and vegetables. The Safety Net Programme - a joint initiative from the Ethiopian government and international donors -- is giving communities a far better chance of survival. Farmers attend classes where they learn basic land management. For their efforts, they receive cash or food aid. The plan's long-term goal is to make communities self-sufficient - even in times of drought - thereby avoiding the need for donor relief. SOUNDBITE: Ethiopian President Meles Zenawi saying: "When people talk about drought in the Horn of Africa, they are right, there is a massive drought in the Horn of Africa. But when they talk about famine in the Horn of Africa, there is no famine in Ethiopia, there is no famine in Kenya." An estimated 250,00 people in neighboring Somalia are on the verge of perishing. And while Ethiopia is no longer at the center of the suffering, progress is relative. The yield from better irrigation channels and terracing could take years to realize and there are still four and a half million people reliant on emergency food aid. Deborah Gembara, Reuters.