Gov’t Reaffirms Commitment to Continue Supporting Drought-affected PeoplePresident Ramaphosa engages youth ahead of SONA

Addis Ababa: The Government of Ethiopia will continue supporting drought affected areas and saving the lives of citizens at any cost, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said. Responding to questions by members of the House of People's Representative today, the PM stated that drought has occurred in some parts of Tigray, Amhara, and Oromia, which is not a new trend for Ethiopia. Using the drought as a political tool is not, however, appropriate since it is not the government that brought drought, he noted. Calling for more cooperation to save lives in drought affected areas, the premier recalled that last year's collaboration to support drought affected people living in Borena was exemplary. For the premier, cooperation is crucial to avoid any death due to drought, but using the drought as a political tool is damaging. During the past four months, for example, about 500,000 quintals of grain has been delivered to Tigray region, primarily by the government and some partners, the PM said. The Interim Administration of Tigray has to deliver the limited resources to the ones who needier, the PM added. The government will continue to support the people with all its capability, the premier said, stressing that "we will do our best to help our people to pass such a difficult time." Dismissing the baseless accusation against his government for giving less attention to the matter, he revealed that the government allotted 15 billion Birr for drought victims. Of this, partners contributed only about 4 billion Birr. According to him, the government is primarily prioritizing saving lives and will continue to support people that have been affected by the drought. The premier further noted that there has been no death due to drought so far. PM Abiy also reaffirmed the commitment of his government to continue supporting drought affected areas and save the lives of citizens by giving special priority at any cost. He emphasized the significance of increasing production and productivity to cope with the recurrent drought. Accord ingly, the nation has cultivated 300,000 million hectares of land during the past Ethiopian harvest season and 120,000 million quintals of wheat is expected. Source: Ethiopian News Agency President Cyril Ramaphosa has held a pre-State of the Nation Address (SONA) engagement with young people at the Belhar Sports Complex in Cape Town. The engagement was aimed at taking stock - together with the youth - of the past three years since the commencement of the Presidential Employment Stimulus (PES) and Youth Employment Intervention (PYEI). The two programmes have created more than 1.7 million job opportunities and provided livelihood support, predominantly benefiting young people. At the engagement on Tuesday, President Ramaphosa told the youth that the sixth administration has, since it took office, made a decision to 'focus on young people" because of the youth unemployment challenge that South Africa faces. "We are going to craft many programmes and as many as we can. We did so because we wanted to give young people an opportunity to start off with their lives. 'Sitting here, I am rather pleased that we've set up this Youth Employment Service,where we've said to the private sector: take youn g people and give them a life chance opportunity by getting them to learn on the job. But we went further and we set up the PYEI, which has opened up enormous opportunities,' he said. Reflecting on the past 30 years of democracy and how the lives of young people are impacted by this, the President said that since the end of apartheid, government has opened the doors of learning for all school going children, and assisted more than a million older youth in attaining higher education. 'When apartheid ended, we decided that we are going to open the doors of learning for young people to go into learning institutions by their millions and having done so, we opened up no-fee schools… We decided that we are going to feed young people at school. We have the biggest feeding programme on the whole continent, feeding nine million children everyday for five days of the week. 'We focused on higher education, [where]... today NSFAS [National Student Financial Aid Scheme] supports 1.2 million young people. I know of no c ountry on the African continent that does so,' he said. President Ramaphosa noted that by putting more youth through higher education, more effort needs to be put into creating jobs for those who graduate. 'This is what led to the conceptualisation of all these [employment] programmes. We rely on the private sector to create jobs but they are not creating jobs fast enough so government had to step in to create those job opportunities. 'The vision is to make sure that we prepare the future of South Africa through educating, through skilling and then creating job opportunities for these young people,' he said. The President assured the youth that government will not stop in its efforts to ensure that the youth are skilled and employed. 'We never had those opportunities but the democratic government has made sure that we open all these opportunities and they are there for you to take…and to make a good start in your own lives. 'But we are going to massify. I want to see millions of young people becoming in volved in various opportunities and getting into jobs. Our commitment to you, as young people, is irrevocable, it is permanent, it is there committed like no other,' President Ramaphosa said. Source: South African Government News Agency