How the humble Irish potoato is breaking the cycle of dependence on emergency relief Ethiopia
Irish potatoes have prevented another major humanitarian food crisis in one of the poorest and most remote parts of Ethiopia, Concern Worldwide has said.
The humble spud, introduced by the Irish aid agency into the country’s drought-prone northern highland regions of South Wollo in Amhara in 2007, is credited with a major drop in food shortages and improvements in the local economy.
The vegetable is thriving where other crops had failed up to 3,000 metres above sea level (Ireland’s highest mountain Carrauntoohil in Co. Kerry is 1,038 metres above sea-level) where visitors can struggle to breathe.
Concern recently received confirmation of this success when four districts, Dessie Zuria, Tenta, Legambo, and Delanta, which were classed as hunger hotspots, were found by a joint UN/Ethiopian government body to no longer be in immediate need of humanitarian assistance.
Their emergency response priority status dropped from one, meaning the situation is extremely urgent, to the lowest level of three, meaning they require monitoring, but no longer lack enough food for an active and healthy life.
This dramatic improvement in the four districts where Concern works in South Wollo, with a combined population of over 704,000 people, is the first since this hunger “hotspot classification” measurement system was introduced in 2000.
“This incredible success has broken the cycle of dependence on emergency relief and restored dignity and hope in areas that have been hit by recurrent disasters,” said Concern’s Ethiopia Country Director, Eileen Morrow.
“It is very challenging to increase the yield of crops in high altitudes. Very little can thrive at 3,000 metres, but the Irish potato has proven to be a rare exception.