Disaster Prevention to Improve Livelihoods and the Economy

This past August marked some of the worst flooding Ethiopia has ever seen. AllAfrica reports that days upon days of heavy rain forced tens of thousands of people to leave their homes and washed away miles of planting in the fertile farmland along rivers.

Governments can do more than just ward off national disasters. They can work together with farmers to create a a thriving, food secure country. (Photo credit: Bernard Pollack)

In the aftermath, many farmers are unable to afford new seeds to replant. And with extreme weather events on the rise due to climate change, many experts fear this is a sign of what’s to come instead of a one time occurrence.

But the government is working on a new disaster prevention plan. After years of being known as the country that receives aid from others, Ethiopia’s Prime Minister, Meles Zenawi, hopes the new strategy will lead to a more food secure future. By 2015, he recently announced, Ethiopia will no longer need outside food aid.

A driving factor of the government’s new focus on perennial disaster prevention and mitigation is the desire to transform Ethiopia’s international reputation for being hungry and vulnerable. This has caused some aid workers to express concern that Ethiopia will focus too much on superficially minimizing the problem instead of actually addressing it. Although, it could only take another flood or a drought or a  bad harvest year to reveal the country’s true disaster relief readiness.

But governments that invest more in agriculture—and in disaster relief and prevention—can benefit in more ways than by just improving a bad international reputation. Agricultural growth has been shown to improve local economies as well as farmers’ livelihoods, access to education, and diets.

Governments can do more than just ward off national disasters. They can work together with farmers to create a a thriving, food secure country.

To read about how investment in agriculture can help countries rebuild economies, restore peace, and maintain political stability, see: Women Farmers: An Untapped Solution to Global Hunger, Agriculture Makes the Front Page, Urban Women Grow Food in Sacks, Women Farmers Are Key to Halving Global Hunger by 2015, An Agricultural Success Story, Putting a Stop to the Spreading Sands, and Obama Says Teach A Man to Fish.

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