Ethiopia seeks donor support to meet drought needs

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Ethiopia Drought
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Ethiopia seeks donor support to meet drought needs
In this photo taken on Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2016, Momena Abdela feeds her malnourished nephew Abdu Ali at Megenta Kebele clinic in a rural village Dubti Woreda, Afar, Ethiopia. Morbid thoughts linger on peopleâs minds in the area. The crops have failed and farm animals have been dying amid severe drought that has left Ethiopia appealing for international help to feed its people. (AP Photo/Mulugeta Ayene)
In this photo taken Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2016, Fatuma Hussein, feeds her child Yasin Ahmed at Megenta Kebele clinic in a rural village Dubti Woreda, in Afar, Ethiopia. Morbid thoughts linger on peopleâs minds in the area. The crops have failed and farm animals have been dying amid severe drought that has left Ethiopia appealing for international help to feed its people. Hussein has spent two months at a local clinic trying to get her child treated for malnutrition. (AP Photo/Mulugeta Ayene)
In this photo taken Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2016, Hamed Dawud, Deputy Administrator of the Megenta area inspects failed crops in the Afar region. Morbid thoughts linger on peopleâs minds in the area. The crops have failed and farm animals have been dying amid severe drought that has left Ethiopia appealing for international help to feed its people. (AP Photo/Mulugeta Ayene)
In this photo taken on Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2016, women wait to get their children examined, at Megenta Kebele clinic in a rural village Dubti Woreda, Afar, Ethiopia. Morbid thoughts linger on peopleâs minds in the area. The crops have failed and farm animals have been dying amid severe drought that has left Ethiopia appealing for international help to feed its people. (AP Photo/Mulugeta Ayene)
In this photo taken on Tuesday, Jan.26, 2016, a farmer shows his failed crops and farmland in the Megenta area of Afar, Ethiopia. The farmer said he has lost 100 percent of his crops. Morbid thoughts linger on peopleâs minds in the area. The crops have failed and farm animals have been dying amid severe drought that has left Ethiopia appealing for international help to feed its people. (AP Photo/Mulugeta Ayene)
In this photo taken on Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2016, a malnourished baby lays on her motherâs lap at Megenta Kebele clinic in a rural village Dubti Woreda, Afar, Ethiopia. Morbid thoughts linger on peopleâs minds in the area. The crops have failed and farm animals have been dying amid severe drought that has left Ethiopia appealing for international help to feed its people. (AP Photo/Mulugeta Ayene)
In this photo of Monday Dec. 14, 2015, elder residents of Kobo, Ethiopia, speak of the cumulative effects of several bad rainy seasons that have made this the worst drought they can remember. The United States government has announced $88 million to help feed hungry people in drought affected areas of Ethiopia, bringing the total number of humanitarian aid provided to the country in 2015 to more than $435 million. The announcement came as the Ethiopian government is appealing for $1.4 billion from the international community and donors to help feed more than 10 million people. (AP Photo/David R. Kahrmann) . --
In this photo taken Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2016, Mayrem Humeyisu talks about food supply in her neighborhood in a rural village Dubti Woreda, Afar, Ethiopia. Morbid thoughts linger on peopleâs minds in the area. The crops have failed and farm animals have been dying amid severe drought that has left Ethiopia appealing for international help to feed its people. (AP Photo/Mulugeta Ayene)
Ethiopian Deputy Prime Minister, Demeke Mekonene, second right, and UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, right, meeting residents in a drought stricken area in Ziway Dugda district, Ethiopia, Sunday, Jan. 31, 2016. (AP Photo/Mulugeta Ayene)
Ziway Dugda district communities waiting for food distribution at Ogolcha food centre in a drought stricken area in Ziway Dugda district, during UN Secretary General, Ban Ki moon's visit to Ethiopia, Sunday, Jan. 31, 2016. (AP Photo/Mulugeta Ayene)
UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, rear right, meeting residents in a drought stricken area in Ziway Dugda district, Ethiopia, Sunday, Jan. 31, 2016 (AP Photo/Mulugeta Ayene)
UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-Moon, center, listening attentively to Ziway Dugda district community members in a drought stricken area in Ziway Dugda Ethiopia, Sunday, Jan. 31, 2016 (AP Photo/Mulugeta Ayene)
In this photo taken on Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2016, mothers and their children wait to be called to assess the level of malnutrition and receive food supplements for one week of treatment, at Megenta Kebele clinic in a rural village Dubti Woreda, Afar, Ethiopia. Morbid thoughts linger on peopleâs minds in the area. The crops have failed and farm animals have been dying amid severe drought that has left Ethiopia appealing for international help to feed its people. (AP Photo/Mulugeta Ayene)
An Afar boy walks through failed crops and farmland in Magenta area of Afar, Ethiopia, on Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2016. Crops have failed and farm animals have been dying amid a severe drought that has left Ethiopia appealing for international help to feed its people. (AP Photo/Mulugeta Ayene)
Ethiopian Deputy Prime Minister, Demeke Mekonene, second right, and UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon meeting residents in the drought stricken Ziway Dugda district, Ethiopia, Sunday, Jan. 31, 2016. (AP Photo/Mulugeta Ayene)
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OGOLCHO, Ethiopia (Reuters) - Ethiopia urged international donors on Sunday to offer aid promptly for relief operations to support 10.2 million people critically short of food, and said it was committed to allocating as much of its own funds as necessary.

Deputy Prime Minister Demeke Mekonen was speaking beside U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon during a tour of an area where one of the worst droughts in decades has left children malnourished, killed livestock and damaged livelihoods.

The relief operation by the government, World Food Programme (WFP) and charities needs $1.4 billion this year. The government says donors have covered about 30 percent so far. The WFP says $500 million is needed to continue operations beyond April.

"Our government is committed to allocating the budget and mobilizing any resources to the target groups," Demeke told reporters at a food and cash distribution point in Ogolcho, a region south of the capital Addis Ababa.

"The action of the international community is very critical and that should be on time," he added.

The drought is as severe in some areas as the one in 1984, when conflict and failed rains caused a famine that killed a million people. Ethiopia now has one Africa's fastest growing economies, but the crisis is still straining the nation.

The government spent $272 million last year on relief and has allocated $109 million so far this year, a hefty burden in a country which remains one of the poorest in Africa per capita and where many people rely on subsistence farming.

Before flying by helicopter to Ogolcho, Ban met in Addis Ababa with government officials, U.N. agency staff and representatives of donors, such as the European Union and the United States, both major contributors.

"We are doing all we can, mobilizing necessary funding," Ban said, praising the government for taking the lead while noting that "they have limited resources."

Ban, in Ethiopia for an African Union summit that ended on Sunday, toured a small health post in the Ogolcho area where children are checked for malnourishment.

Ogolcho is in Ziway Dudga district, where the main harvest almost completely failed last year. More than 65 percent of the district's population is dependent on relief food assistance. The north and east of Ethiopia have also been badly hit.

Ban was shown a site where food and cash transfers are made under one of Ethiopia's flagship development initiatives, the Productive Safety Net Programme (PSNP), through which about 7.9 million people around the nation who are deemed chronically food insecure receive support in return for community work.

The program was started more than a decade ago, and experts say the crisis would have been far greater without it.

(Writing by Edmund Blair; Editing by Andrew Bolton)


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