June 21, 2008 (ADDIS ABABA) — Ethiopia’s government insisted Saturday it could tackle a searing drought that has put 4.6 million people at the mercies of relief aid, despite legislative proposals that could curb aid groups working there.
"The current food shortage witnessed in pocket areas of the country is transient and will soon be brought under control through emergency aid and the regular agricultural schemes," the information ministry said in a statement.
"Though some citizens are exposed to food shortage, the problem is not beyond control as the government in collaboration with all stakeholders is striving to reverse the situation."
The United Nations last week appealed for 325 million dollars to provide nearly 400,000 tonnes of food to the country’s hardest-hit central and southern regions.
The appeal came as the federal parliament considers a bill which, if passed, could restrict the activities of foreign aid groups in the nation of 80 million people that suffers from chronic food shortages.
Addis Ababa said the number of people in need of food aid had risen to 4.6 million from from 2.2 million due to failed rains.
Aid groups and donor countries have vowed to press the government on the issue, warning that too many curbs on the work of NGOs could lead to a shortfall in foreign funding.