Every day dozens of WFP chartered vessels ply the oceans of the world en route to distant ports. Laden with food the vessels steer their course towards the continents of Asia, South America and Africa where the need is often greatest. The beautiful highlands of Ethiopia have long struggled to support that proud nation's burgeoning population but have often been unable to meet the demand. As a result WFP has been asked to step in and establish a vital food lifeline from countries around the world whose grain surpluses can meet the needs of the Ethiopian people.
For years the Port of Djibouti served as the main port of call for all food flowing into landlocked Ethiopia. Following the separation of Eritrea from Ethiopia in 1993, Ethiopia, which once had the privilege of using the ports of Asab and Massawa along the Red Sea coast, suddenly found itself reliant upon the tiny nation of Djibouti for access to the Gulf Of Aden, the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean. An increase in commercial cargo, humanitarian cargo and government cargo led to congestion in the Port of Djibouti and strained the overland transport capacity to Ethiopia.
While some years were worse than others, the past two years have presented additional challenges. The Ethiopian government's request for support of over 11 million people has suddenly pushed the supply chain to its limit. (The amount of food WFP estimates it will need to move into Ethiopia is nearly 800,000 metric tonnes.) As a result of this request, WFP undertook an assessment to determine the feasibility of using the ports of Sudan and Berbera, located to the north and south respectively, as alternate supply routes into the landlocked nation. Early test shipments proved successful so additional shipments of bulk grain were sent into the two alternate ports.
We have been lucky enough to receive images from these early shipments to the remote port of Berbera and of the overland convoys moving into Ethiopia from Sudan. We took the liberty of compiling the images into a multi-image show complete with a custom audio track. It highlights the process involved with moving food into some of the world's most remote regions. Hopefully, the new routes will prove to sustainable new passages into the heart of Ethiopia.
Special thanks to the Ethiopia, Djibouti, Somalia and Sudan country teams, the Shipping unit and Will Thompson for the music!