By Philip Bushill IT is twenty years since the BBC screened its memorable documentary about the massive human tragedy in Ethopia. Seven million people faced starvation and slow death. The response was Live Aid and Band Aid, and the world rightly felt this was a job well done. Last year the number relying on food aid to avoid starvation swelled to fourteen million. Average life expectancy is only 41. There is so much still to be done – as I saw at first hand on a recent visit. One problem is lack of water, for farming as well as drinking. Households consider themselves fortunate if they only have five miles to walk to get fresh water. Of the potentially irrigable land, only 3% is irrigated: this is despite an average rainfall of 34 inches a year – much of which simply runs away. Thanks to European Union funding, this could change. I was shown a particularly exciting project, namely the trapping of natural rainfall into two cisterns. Each pair held 120'000 litres, enough to supply a small farm until the next rains arrived, and came with a foot–pump and a holding tank. The total cost is less than $1500: as each such project allows the farmer to raise three crops a year instead of one, payback is within nine months. Hundreds of such pilot projects have been launched in the past two years: hundreds of thousands more are needed. But there is another immediate issue that needs attention, that of fair trade. The developing world needs ready access to our markets. Developing world needs ready access to our markets. Developing world does not need EU produce surpluses The developing world does not need EU produce surpluses, the result of the failed Common Agricultural Policy, dumped on theirs. Ethiopia also needs help to combat HIV/Aids. One of the most heart–rending experiences of my short trip was a visit to a home run by the Sisterhood of Mother Teresa. Many of the residents were not only destitute: they were dying. Room after room had row after row of beds. All were full. In the corridors and open spaces were lines of people of all ages lying or sitting, with nothing to do except wait with patient resignation for the next meal or the next – perhaps their final – sleep. In a corner of the complex was a children's section. Many were handicapped. Most were orphans, both their parents having died of Aids. Many had Aids themselves. To see so much poverty, surrounded by so much love, was unforgettable. We have to ensure that the world as a whole does not forget either. Two of the biggest demographic challenges in the EU are that Europeans are getting fatter, and are living longer. Ethiopians would be delighted to have both problems.

Matthews, Tory
Party Euro MP