The North-South Institute



On the Knife’s Edge

May 12, 2012


The Ottawa Citizen


- Rains in this part of Ethiopia have de-creased 15 to 20 per cent since the mid 1970s.

- Rising temperatures are making dry con-ditions even worse.

- The drop in rainfall is happening in the country’s most populated and fast-growing areas, creating conditions that “could dramatically increase the number of atrisk people in Ethiopia during the next 20 years.”

Whether it’s called climate change or not, says Moyer, the reality on the ground looks the same to the people living there.

“Whereas these regions may have seen severe droughts every five years and catastrophic ones every 10 years, we’re seeing them sometimes back-to-back,” he says. “If you’re going to face two months of severe drought and a potential famine situation where you can’t access food, if you have to sell off your livestock or your key household assets, you’re going to be worse off for a long period and may be even less equipped to deal with the next crisis that comes.”

For Cornelius, that’s where relief comes in. And go ahead, he says, call it a Bandaid solution.

“We have Band-aids for a very good reason,” he says. “We need to cover wounds so they don’t get infected and lead to bigger problems. If you don’t provide relief and the family takes their kids out of school, that’s compromising the future.”

For many Ethiopians, the future is measured by the next meal, the next crop, the next rainfall. The longer term solutions, are, for the most part, out of their workweary hands.

Carl Neustaedter is Deputy Editor of the Citizen. He travelled in Ethiopia on a food study tour organized and funded by the Canadian Foodgrains Bank.


Canada’s aid from government sources peaked in 2009-10.

Most is administered by the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA).


Foreign donors spent $3.5 billion in Ethiopia in 2010. (Canada ranked 8th.)

- United States $875M

- World Bank/IDF $668M

- Britain $407M

- Global Fund $256M

- European Union $237M

EXPLORE AID ONLINE: The new Canadian International Development Platform tracks Canada’s aid in the developing world. Find data and analysis on who’s spending, who’s receiving and for what, at


Insufficient or late rains in many parts of Ethiopia are causing poor crops and failures, leading to a famine early warning organization to predict food shortage and emergencies between April and June.