APAP held a half-day workshop on the affordability of food at the Assembly Hall of the Federal Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission, in Addis Ababa, on August 14, 2008. The workshop was organized in partnership with the Ethiopian Consumers’ Protection Association, and was officially opened by Ato Seifu Ali, a member of the Association’s Board of Directors.

A total of 36 people, who were drawn from the various consumers’ cooperatives in and around Addis Ababa, participated in the workshop. The main objectives of the workshop were resolving the major problems that the consumer cooperatives have hitherto been plagued by and raising the awareness of the participants about the Ethiopian Government’s obligation to respecting citizens’ rights to food.

APAP has long known that the consumer cooperatives want to sell food items at lower prices and thereby give much-needed support to the most vulnerable segments of society, especially now that food prices have been steadily increasing. They have not, however, been able to do that in a truly meaningful manner, mainly because the material and financial resources at their disposal are too meager for them to do that on their own. So they could not help but bring to the attention of the Government what they want to do and why they could not do it—in the hope that it (the Government) would give them the support they need in this regard. And, according to the information that APAP has been able to obtain, the types of support they need are, among others, access to the supply of foodstuffs at less-than-the-market-prices, long-term credit; and a plot of land on which they can construct a warehouse where they will store the foodstuffs to be made available to them.

Based on this information, APAP prepared discussion papers aimed at raising the awareness of the participants of the workshop about the Government’s legal obligation, as per the international legal instruments that Ethiopia is a party to, to respecting citizens’ rights to food and about the practical problems that have long plagued the consumers’ cooperatives. The discussion papers were presented by APAP’s staffs.

Following the presentation of the papers, discussions were held on the underlying causes and the severity of the problems and how they had crimped the cooperatives’ efforts.

Finally, the participants wrapped up their discussion by deciding to form a steering committee that would lobby the Government on behalf of their Association.

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