Ethiopia has one of the fastest-growing economies in Africa. Yet, the inability to access food and proper nutrition remains a reality in many communities. Ten percent of the population suffers from chronic food insecurity. 85 percent of Ethiopians are dependent on subsistence agriculture. Its fast-growing population and dependence on subsistence agriculture puts tremendous pressure on the land and natural resources that are the cornerstones for the country's growth.
During a four-day CARE Learning Tour, we visited several U.S.-supported programs that are feeding millions of people throughout the country and helping people to feed themselves. Around the world there are more than 850 million people who do not have enough to eat. Most of them are women and girls.
The United States government is the largest provider of humanitarian assistance in the Horn of Africa, providing over $1.8 billion since 2011. Despite the best of intentions, we learned that American food aid can be slow to reach people in need, inefficient, and not cost effective. On average, U.S.-grown emergency food aid can take more than two months longer to reach its destination than locally procured food aid. Local and regional procurement is a lower cost alternative and a more efficient method for virtually all U.S. food aid commodities.
This trip gave us an opportunity to witness how smart, strategic, and coordinated emergency food and nutrition initiatives create long-term food security and boost local economies. With this experience, we hope to continue to be a voice for the poor and continue the fight with CARE to end global hunger.