International Complacency Compounds Humanitarian Impact Of Drought In Horn Of Africa

28 Jul 2019 by Staff - Water Diplomat
OXFORD, United Kingdom

The Horn of Africa is once again in a drought that appears to be a new norm in the region, with more than 15 million people in need of urgent assistance in Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia. The region, which hasn’t fully recovered from a drought in 2017, is once again facing a humanitarian crisis.

Appeals to governments have been partly successful, but only one-third of commitments have been fulfilled. Lessons learned from the 2011 famine, which killed over 260,000 people, helped avert the 2017 famine with large scale, swift funding that ensured an effective humanitarian response, according to Oxfam.

At the same stage two years ago the humanitarian response was three-quarters funded but that level of support has failed to materialize this year. Without swift and substantial support, Oxfam is anticipating an even greater crisis.

As reported in OOSKAnews, poor and erratic rains have destroyed crops, leaving well more than 7 million people in severe hunger. The crisis has been further compounded as conflict and drought “refugees” have been forced to flee their homes in the region.

Lydia Zigomo, Oxfam’s Regional Director for the Horn of Africa, said:"We learned from the collective failures of the 2011 famine that we must respond swiftly and decisively to save lives. But the international commitment to ensure that it never happens again is turning to complacency. Once again it is the poorest and most vulnerable who are bearing the brunt.”

The shortfall in funding has been in varying degrees by Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia and security and humanitarian access has improved. Each country must expand its efforts but without more international support they will not be able to avert a greater crisis.

Halima Adan, Deputy Director with Oxfam partner organization, Save Somali Women and Children, said: “Without enough funds and the right kind of support, our hands are tied.”

Oxfam and its partners are currently helping hundreds of thousands of people with life-saving support in Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia by providing clean water and rapid flexible cash assistance, matched with longer-term support to build stronger, more resilient communities.