An Overview of the Emergency Situation in Ethiopia

NSIAD-85-70: Published: Apr 12, 1985. Publicly Released: Apr 12, 1985.

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GAO reviewed the emergency situation in Ethiopia as part of an overall review of U.S. famine relief to Africa.

GAO found that firm statistics concerning the number of people at risk of starvation were difficult to establish and that the number could double if the next harvest failed. GAO found that, although improvements had been made in increasing the port capacity for scheduling and offloading operations, the increased capacity might not offset the difficulties in moving food inland from the ports. GAO also found that, while there was plenty of food to distribute, there was a shortage of distribution vehicles due to inoperability and availability. Despite the improvements, the transportation situation needs more and continued attention. GAO noted that the United Nations Assistant Secretary General for relief operations improved donor coordination and fulfilled an important role as the main interface with the host government. GAO found that there were long delays in the delivery of U.S. food due to the establishment of appropriate controls to ensure that the food would get to the intended recipients. GAO noted that the situation in Ethiopia presented some special difficulties for U.S. officials charged with program oversight because of the size of the monitoring task and travel constraints within the host country.

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