Yes, Ethiopia has problems – but this drought is no 1984 rerun

William Davison

With rapid economic growth and a government safety net, Ethiopians are understandably angry at being associated in western minds with misery

When the BBC’s Michael Buerk brought Ethiopian famine to the world’s attention in 1984, the footage panned over thousands of people on the brink of starvation in the region of North Wollo. A BBC report this week, filmed in the same drought-stricken area, focused on one mother’s loss of her son to hunger. But it was an indication that although Ethiopia still suffers preventable tragedies, it may well have gained the capability to prevent catastrophe.

A statement from the Ethiopian embassy in London was quick to challenge yesterday’s report: “The sensational news broadcast by BBC TV, regarding children dying on a daily basis, does not reflect the current broad reality on the ground and the full preparation that has gone into overcoming the problem.”

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