Statement by Principal Deputy Press Secretary Speakes on Food Assistance to Africa

November 1, 1984

President Reagan today approved further measures the United States is taking in response to the growing food emergency in Africa.

The President approved food assistance to three more African countries: Kenya, 120,000 metric tons of food, valued at $25.5 million; Mozambique, 73,000 metric tons, valued at $12.7 million; Mali, 15,000 metric tons, valued at $6.9 million.

These new approvals total 208,000 metric tons valued at $45.1 million. This brings the total drought-related food assistance obligated to Africa in fiscal year 1985 (since October 1, 1984) to $131.0 million for 15 African countries. Niger and Chad are also under active consideration for food assistance.

M. Peter McPherson, Administrator of the Agency for International Development, will meet with Ethiopian Commissioner Dawit Walde Giorgis, Director, Ethiopian Relief Agency, today and tomorrow in Washington to discuss efforts of the Ethiopian and U.S. Governments to deal with the drought in that country. Subject to discussions with the Ethiopian Government, the President has authorized AID to contract with TransAmerica, a U.S. based airline, for two L - 100 cargo planes to airlift emergency food supplies to drought victims within Ethiopia. The planes can arrive in Ethiopia on November 4th and 5th and remain for at least 60 days at a cost of approximately $2.4 million.

In fiscal year 1984 the United States provided more than 500,000 metric tons of emergency food to more than 25 African countries. The value of the food exceeded $173 million for fiscal year 1984.

The President is committed to addressing the drought emergency on an Africa-wide basis. In Ethiopia, the problem has largely been on the Ethiopian side, reflected in an inability or unwillingness to get the goods to the people in need. There are some signs of improvement now.

We note that the Soviet Union has announced that it will provide some limited transportation assistance to help deliver food in Ethiopia. We hope this means a basic change in Soviet policy. Their record has been one of overwhelmingly military-oriented programs in the Third World, with little assistance in terms of aid and development.