Urban Food Security Strategy On Stream for 2016

Ethiopia will implement its first urban food security strategy starting in February 2016 to improve social safety nets by 60pc, labour markets by 30pc and other areas of urban development by 10pc.

The implementation will be supported by a 559 million dollar grant the World Bank is expected to approve on December 15, 2015. The Council of Ministers approved the strategy in May 2015.

Ethiopia aspires to become a middle income country by 2025; but one challenge to that endeavour has been the fact that 25.7pc of urban population still lives under the poverty line (earning below 1.2 dollars a day), calling for a priority, said Abraham Petros, programme & policy head at the Ministry of Urban Development & Housing (MoUDH) and supervisor of the technical committee established for the implementation of the strategy.

Donor support will see the implementation through its first phase of five years in 11 cities, including Addis Abeba and Dire Dawa, as well as the capitals of nine regional states.

A total of 1.1 million people will be addressed in this phase; among these 800,000 people will be covered by the World Bank’s grant. Central Statistical Agency (CSA) figures for 2010/11, indicate that urban population below poverty line was 4.7 million; this could be up to eight million now, says Abraham.

Ethiopia has one of the lowest urban populations in the world, well below the Sub-Saharan Africa average of 37pc percent. That is expected to triple from 15.2 million in 2012 to 42.3 million in 2037, growing at 3.8 per cent a year. The strategy has forecast 18.7 million or 20pc of the population to be urban by 2014/15.

“Ethiopia: Urbanization Review”, a World bank report released a couple of weeks ago indicated that the country is going through a demographic transition showing increment in the urban labour force, which is expected to grow from 33 million in 2005 to 82 million by 2030.

The strategy consists of three programmes, namely, the safety net programme, job creation and capacity building. The safety net programme will have two components; one is direct financial aid to elderly and disabled who have no capacity, while the second is support via community based participation;

The modality of how funding cash is to be distributed, whether it should be in kind or in cash itself, will be determined based on the situation of those included in the programme, according to Abraham. There will be flexibility.

On the other hand for those who can work, job opportunities, for instance in irrigation development will be created. Moreover training will be given to enable those to have improved, to create their own businesses, develop business plans and foster entrepreneurship.

Implementation of the programme, is specifically designated to a new organisation, which will be crafted from the existing structure, the Federal Micro and Small Enterprises Agency (FMSEA). The Agency, accountable to the MoUDH, is being split in two, pending approval by the Ministry and Council of Ministers, said a source from the restructured body.

The report indicated that creating job opportunities will be essential if Ethiopia is to exploit the demographic dividend.

The Ethiopian Government’s vision is to reach middle-income status with an estimated gross national income per capita of 1,560 dollars by 2025. If well managed, urbanisation could be an important catalyst to promote economic growth, create jobs, and connect Ethiopians to prosperity, stated the report.

Another report has also indicated that 75pc of households were food insecure and 23pc were in a state of hunger. Households with higher food insecurity scores tend to have lower dietary diversity and are less likely to consume high quality diets, according to a study made in 2014. The study concludes that food insecurity is not only the problem of rural areas but is an urban challenge too and recommended that policy makers should look into the case.

For this purpose Federal Micro & Small Enterprises Agency (FMSEA) will have a stake in addition to the Ministry of Agriculture & Natural Resources (MoANR), Ministry of Labour & Social Affairs (MoLSA). For instance MoLSA will have a role in providing guidance, mobilising and allocating resources and ensuring linkages with the National Social Protection policy and strategy.

FSMEA will break into two separate agencies. One, Urban Food Security & Job Creation Agency, which will have a role in the food security strategy. The second will be Small & Micro Manufacturing Industry Authority, according to Asfaw Abebe, deputy director at FSMEA. Regulations are under preparation for the formation of these agencies.

An implementation manual is being prepared by a committee drawn from MoANR, FMSE, MoUDH and the World Bank (WB). Directives will also be developed. In addition a National Steering Committee will be established involving the above stakeholders and the Ministry of Finance & Economic Cooperation, Ministry of Children & Women and the Ministry of Youth & Sport.






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