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Boston, MA ? International relief and development agency Oxfam America has been awarded a $2 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to help over 225,000 people affected by the drought and food crisis in Ethiopia. The funding will support Oxfam's work to address immediate humanitarian needs as well as its development work in Ethiopia."This funding comes at a critical time, when people worldwide are striving to save the lives, and the livelihoods, of millions who are suffering," said Raymond C. Offenheiser, president of Oxfam America. "Malnutrition continues to grow as global food prices for rice, wheat and corn have risen 83 percent worldwide over the past three years."
Oxfam's response to the Ethiopian crisis in the short term will focus on livestock health, distribution of food supplements for children and cash- and food-for-work programs. The foundation's funding will also support Oxfam's longer term projects in Ethiopia designed to help communities reduce their risk in the face of crisis. Projects include distribution of higher quality seed, small scale irrigation development, rain water storage, drought early warning systems, grain bank creation and animal restocking.
"On behalf of the people who will benefit from this grant, particularly the women and children who are bearing the brunt of the crisis, Oxfam offers its heartfelt thanks to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation," said Offenheiser. "The foundation is addressing both immediate needs and helping organizations such as Oxfam to implement programs that will have a real effect on reducing poverty in the long run."
"Ethiopia receives the most emergency aid in Africa per capita, but it receives the least development aid," continued Offenheiser. "With proper long term development assistance and agricultural investment, Ethiopian villages can build irrigation channels, rain storage facilities, and get access to higher quality seeds. All of this will mitigate the impact of drought and help the country to feed itself."
Oxfam's grant is part of a $17.6 million package of assistance to humanitarian agencies that was announced today by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. While these grants address some of the most urgent consequences of the global food crisis, the foundation is also deeply committed to funding nutritional programs that promote lasting health and supporting long term, sustainable efforts to help hundreds of millions of small farmers boost their yields and incomes.