Western donors agree that a sudden and severe drought in June and July has made Ethiopia vulnerable to another famine. Rainfall in some areas was as low or lower than in 1984 and 1985. Donors said Ethiopia's food request, if anything, understates the seriousness of the coming food shortage.
Then, the daily death rate was already about 16,000 a day in famine camps in the countryside. The figure comes from Dawit Wolde Giorgis, who headed Ethiopia's famine relief commission at the time and has since defected to the United States. According to Dawit, [Mengistu Haile Mariam] sought to cover up the famine, ordering him to "keep the soldiers and the Addis population satisfied until the celebration was over."
Ethiopia has resisted the free-market farm reforms that have swept across Africa in the past three years. Avowedly socialist countries such as Tanzania have instituted reforms that pay higher prices to farmers. The results of such reforms in Tanzania, and across Africa, have been encouraging. Ethiopia has not budged.
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