CHARLOTTESVILLE, Virginia — Armed conflict in the Tigray region located in northern Ethiopia has displaced millions of people since early November 2020. Despite the fact that the conflict officially ended in late November 2020, violence and instability are ongoing, leading to displaced people and food insecurity. People have gone months with little or no humanitarian assistance due to access issues. In March 2021, in Eastern Tigray, access improved and the UNHCR and partners were able to reach some previously inaccessible areas. With the need for humanitarian aid in Ethiopia’s Tigray region growing, Canadian singer and songwriter, The Weeknd, is helping fight hunger in Ethiopia. He recently made a $1 million donation to provide two million meals through the World Food Programme.
The Weeknd’s Donation
On April 4, 2021, Abel Tesfaye, also known as The Weeknd, donated $1 million to the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP). The funds would provide more than two million meals to support hunger relief in Ethiopia’s Tigray region. The Weeknd has donated to various humanitarian and social causes during the course of his career. In 2017, The Weeknd donated $100,000 for the construction of the Suubi Health Center, a rural clinic in Uganda. In August 2020, The Weeknd donated $300,000 to the Global Aid for Lebanon campaign. His donation was to assist victims of an explosion in Beirut that resulted in more than 200 deaths.
The Weeknd is helping fight hunger in Ethiopia through his most recent donation of $1 million to the WFP. The Ethiopian government has estimated that 4.5 million people will require humanitarian support at least until late 2021. The government has asked for the WFP’s support for at least 1.4 million people.
The World Food Programme
The World Food Programme has been working in Ethiopia since 1968. It provides food assistance to the victims of violence, displacement and drought. With more than 2.9 million internally displaced people (IDPs) living in Ethiopia, the WFP has been working to ensure displaced people have reliable access to humanitarian aid. The WFP focuses mainly on food assistance, but its programs have gone beyond that to ensure sustainable development in Ethiopia.
The Productive Safety Net Program (PSNP) has provided 1.6 million Ethiopians with food and money in exchange for assistance in developing local infrastructure like roads, schools and clinics. The WFP has used its Purchase for Progress program to provide Ethiopian farmers with equipment and training to grow food and develop businesses. The WFP purchased 44,000 tons of locally grown corn from Ethiopian farmers. With it, the WFP provided food to people through its other programs. Additionally, more than 616,000 Ethiopian children have been provided with nutritious meals to encourage school attendance. Finally, more than 2.2 million of the most vulnerable people, including pregnant and nursing mothers, children younger than 5 years old and people living with HIV/AIDS, have all been provided with supplementary nutrition.
The WFP is seeking $170 million to continue working in the Tigray region, providing emergency support to those impacted by the crisis. Ethiopia has seen significant progress in combating poverty and malnourishment for the past 20 years. The poverty rate has dropped from 48% in 1990 to 25% in 2014. Furthermore, malnourishment has fallen from 75% in 1992 to 32% in 2015. Increased humanitarian support is necessary to continue poverty progress and reduce malnourishment. Donations like The Weeknd’s are crucial to help fight hunger in Ethiopia and will spread awareness of the ongoing crisis.
– Gerardo Valladares