Remarks by Ambassador Patricia Haslach at the Save the Children Event to Recognize Ethiopian Government Drought Response

Remarks by
Patricia Haslach
U.S. Ambassador to Ethiopia
at the Save the Children Event to Recognize
Ethiopian Government Drought Response
Wednesday, January 13, 2016
U.S. Embassy Addis Ababa 

(As prepared for delivery)

USG–Save the Children Partnership in Ethiopia

Good Evening to our Government of Ethiopia counterparts, fellow Ambassadors, Carolyn , Diana, John Graham and the Save the Children team and other distinguished guests.  It is great to be here with all of you this evening.

Without a doubt, Ethiopia has made great strides in recent years toward reaching the UN Millennium Development Goals, and I’m proud to say that our partnership with Save the Children has played its role in supporting these efforts in a wide range of areas.

As most of you are surely aware, Save the Children and the U.S. Government have enjoyed a long and fruitful partnership working together here in Ethiopia; Save is currently one of our largest partners in Ethiopia, managing more than $181 million in U.S. Government funding.

Through its partnership with the U.S. Agency for International Development, Save the Children has provided vital health care services, particularly in the area of maternal health, to reduce neonatal morbidity.  Our partnership also affords educational opportunities to Ethiopian children, such as our work to build a culture of reading and strengthen literacy within the country’s next generation.

Our joint nutrition and economic development (ENGINE) project collaborates with the Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance rapid response partner (GOAL) and USAID’s Feed the Future implementers (PRIME and GRAD) to sustain the resilience of food insecure communities to overcome shocks, improve the nutritional status of women and young children, and to measure the results of USAID’s humanitarian and development programs.

And when moments of crisis strike, such as the current drought, our partnership adapts, and we bolster our emergency response efforts to save lives and preserve development gains in drought affected areas.

We know and fully value the work and role of non-government organizations and the role of civil in helping us address crises like the one facing Ethiopia now, but generally in promoting development goals and good governance.  The United States government places a very high value on this cooperation, and we would shudder to think what we would do as a nation or international community, if we did not have a vibrant and independent non-government sector to partner with.

NGOs such as Save the Children, the Catholic Relief Services and Mercy Corps are playing leading roles in our drought response and in building resilience necessary to strengthen Ethiopia’s response to similar crises in the future.   We thank all of them for their support, professionalism and hard work, and will continue to do what we can to enable them to the best work they can do.

NGOs are our close and crucial partners in other sectors as well, be it health, democracy and governance, economic growth.  They are crucial to our work here, and as a democratic society, the United States believes strongly that their independence and strength are crucial to the healthy and balanced development of all societies.

Drought Response

As for the current drought facing Ethiopia that NGOs like Save are addressing so vigorously, it currently threatens the wellbeing and livelihoods of millions of people. In 2016, more than 10 million Ethiopians will need emergency food assistance, while more than 8 million additional people who are chronically food insecure will continue to need assistance.

Through USAID, the United States has stepped forward to assist the Government of Ethiopia response to this crisis.  Fortunately, thanks to early warning systems and careful tracking of the progression of El Niño in the Horn of Africa, USAID food assistance contributions have been early and robust, allowing us to pre-position additional food here in Ethiopia and ensure that more food is on its way.

Total U.S. humanitarian assistance for Ethiopia has been more than $435 million since October 2014 – this includes funding for nutrition, food, sanitation, and hygiene.

We are currently supporting 2.6 million Ethiopians with emergency food assistance through the Joint Emergency Operation Program (JEOP), a USAID-supported consortium of NGOs led by Catholic Relief Services which includes Save the Children.

We are also providing emergency food assistance through support for WFP activities and continue to fund the Ethiopian Government’s Public Safety Net Program at approximately $100 million per year, which improves food security for recipients.  Save, as you all know, is one of four partners implementing USAID-supported PSNP activities.

At the same time, several of our large development initiatives are pivoting their activities to support emergency response efforts while continuing to ensure that they stay on track with their development objectives.   

I had the opportunity a few weeks ago to go with the Irish Ambassador, John Graham and his team to visit some drought affected areas in North Wollo. We observed the food distribution process and talked to local farmers about the problems they are facing. People are getting by, but they are very concerned about the year ahead.

We also met with local leaders and I can tell you that they are appreciative of the work that USAID and NGOs like Save are doing during these difficult times.

We rely on Save and all of our non-governmental organization partners to oversee our emergency response programs.  Our strong engagement with GOAL, for example, provides rapid nutrition interventions in districts of Ethiopia with high levels of malnourishment.  In addition, USAID’s partnership with the International Rescue Committee allows for an immediate response when water is scarce and also provides essential supplies to displaced Ethiopian households.

Without our NGO partners and the expertise and experience they bring in dealing with a humanitarian crisis like the one we are now facing, we would not be able to provide the Government of Ethiopia with the support it needs. We will continue working with our Government of Ethiopia counterparts to help facilitate the entrance of support staff and experts working with the NGOs into the country – thereby helping to ensure that the additional assistance coming in has the maximum positive impact for the people of Ethiopia.

We will also continue to urge other donors to join us and our European, North American and Asian partners in digging even deeper to see what assistance they might be able to provide.

Looking beyond this drought and keeping a keen eye on the new Sustainable Development Goals, we look forward to working with partners like Save the Children to assist Ethiopia as it strives to continue being a leader in reaching development targets.