Accepted paper:

Hunger and Reforestation: Environmental Dilemma of the Food Aid Project in Northern Ethiopia


Keiichiro Matsumura (Okayama University)

Paper short abstract:

This paper analyzes food aid projects aiming at reforestation in Northern Ethiopia and clarifies that environmental degradation in the region has been envisaged as the reason for the "hunger". Those discourses conceal the socio-political reasons of food insecurity and produce unsolved dilemmas.

Paper long abstract:

This paper argues that the development policy in Ethiopia is drawn and implemented mainly on the basis of a deforestation discourse. The attitude is reinforced by international agencies and donor countries that provide massive food aid to tackle "hunger." The food aid has provided concepts and resources to realize the discourse, although the donor countries offer the aid primarily to serve their political and economical interests. Ethiopia has received enormous food aid, particularly after the famine of the 1970s. The relief food has frequently been utilized in many development projects promoting tree-planting under the Food-For-Work scheme in which people receive food in return of their labor. In 2005, an extensive food aid program, Productive Safety Net Program (PSNP), was initiated with the support of the World Bank, UN agencies, and donor countries. A case study of the program in Wollo area indicates that the "hunger" is still considered a result of deforestation in Ethiopia and that tree-planting and soil conservation practices continue to be the foremost target of food aid programs. Although the concepts and institutions of the current program are sophisticated, the circle of "hunger," "environment," and "food aid" still makes it possible to conceal the other socio-political reasons of food insecurity and produces unsolved dilemmas and contradictions over "a desirable environment."

panel PE53
Anthropology of crises and disasters