In 2008 Ethiopia again faced a serious humanitarian crisis with over 12 million people in need of emergency food aid. This year an estimated 6.2 million Ethiopians need emergency humanitarian assistance due to severe drought. There is a long history of disasters in Ethiopia and a rich literature that can be drawn upon to inform the response to the current crisis. Much of this literature has been published in Disasters over its 32-year history. This virtual issue brings together 36 articles for the first time ranging from an examination of nutrition issues in Hararghe from 1977 to an article examining destocking from June 2008. Five free articles examine measurement of vulnerability to food insecurity, relief during the 1983 drought and famine, commercial destocking interventions, lessons learned from the 1999-2000 crisis and food security during the 1998-2000 conflict with Eritrea.
There is a tendency within the humanitarian system to reinvent the wheel with each new crisis and this virtual issue is full of salutary reminders of the rich history, experience and capacity in responding to crisis built up over the past decades by successive Ethiopian governments, civil society and affected populations.