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US, other nations boosting Africa famine aid

As famine fears ease in Zimbabwe and other countries in southern Africa because of prolonged rain, they worsen farther north and west. The outpouring of aid from individuals is slowing down, according to European and US private aid agencies. But some governments are giving more.

The United States has provided $400 million in food aid so far in fiscal year 1985, and the House of Representatives has approved $700 million more. If the Senate goes along, as expected, the US will be providing more than $1 billion worth of aid in the 12 months that began Oct. 1, 1984. Washington provided $172 million in fiscal 1984.

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Rep. David R. Obey (D) of Wisconsin, chairman of the foreign operations subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee, said the extra money would have to be borrowed, deficit or no deficit, because ``this is a life-threatening situation. We have no other course.''

President Reagan has released 300,000 tons of wheat from the US Food Security Reserve -- the first time this has been done for a famine -- and the Agency for International Development (AID) is providing $50 million to process and transport it.

For Ethiopia alone, AID earmarked 278,398 metric tons of grain between last Oct. 1 and Feb. 13, 1985, according to agency officials. Of this amount, 100,252 metric tons have already been shipped.

US emergency food aid to other countries in the same period: The Sudan -- 160,445 metric tons, Kenya -- 129,845 metric tons, Chad -- 43,520 metric tons, Mali -- 35,150 metric tons, Mozambique -- 61,644 metric tons, and Niger -- 83,898 metric tons. Food aid to the Sudan, which has received more than 1.5 million refugees from Ethiopia, Uganda, and Chad, continues, despite a freeze on economic aid.

The World Bank has announced a new development fund of $1 billion to help sub-Saharan Africa. Bank sources say $600 million of this is new contributions from members, to make up for a reduction in contributions to the bank's ``soft loan'' window to the third world, known as the International Development Agency (IDA).

Many IDA members wanted a loan level of $11.5 billion this year, but the Reagan administration opposed the amount and refused to agree to more than a $9.5 billion ceiling. Bank president A. W. Clausen has the $600 million in a separate Africa fund -- and the promise of $400 million more from West Germany, Japan, Britain, and others -- to be lent in conjunction with the $600 million.

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