From Emergency Aid to Economic Empowerment

August 19, 2011
Nena Terrell/USAIDCommunity members in East Hararghe, Ethiopia, work to improve their mountainside farms through terracing, with help from a USAID-supported Catholic Relief Services project.

Last week, I traveled with four of my USAID colleagues to a drought-stricken area of Ethiopia as part of a larger visit to the Horn of Africa region. The worst drought the region has seen in 60 years has put more than 12.4 million people in Somalia, Kenya, Djibouti, and Ethiopia in need of urgent assistance.

One purpose of our visit was to observe the drought emergency, but we were also there to determine how to better merge USAID’s drought recovery programs with long-term development programs like Feed the Future, the U.S. Government’s multi-agency global food security initiative. It all seems simple enough, but the more we saw, the more we realized the complexities of our work. As difficult as it is to feed people in the midst of a crisis, it is much harder to prepare them before a crisis so food aid will not be required in the first place.