One year on from the devastating drought and famine that affected over 12 million people in the Horn of Africa region, CARE International is calling on governments and donors to take action to stop the repeated cycle of food crises in the region.
‘Humanitarian interventions since 2011 have helped to prevent excessive deaths but in 2012, families are still struggling to feed themselves and rebuild their livelihoods,’ said CARE’s East and Central Africa Regional Director Emma Naylor-Ngugi. ‘Rain predictions for 2012 are fair but cannot be guaranteed; even the slightest risk of poor harvests, continued displacement due to conflict or a rise in commodity prices could see families in need of our help once again’.
CARE is calling on governments, NGOs, community leaders and individuals to work together to address and prevent the continual cycles of crisis in the drylands areas of the Horn of Africa. As the Sahel region struggles to cope with a similar crisis on the other side of the continent, the lessons learned from 2011 and before cannot be ignored, cautions CARE.
‘We have to act in good time,’ says Emma Naylor-Ngugi. ‘2011 has taught us that our best efforts at utilising early warning systems and monitoring the food security situation of local communities will always be undermined if these warnings are not heeded and acted upon. We’ve been through droughts so many times before; we know very well when poor rains are likely to turn into something more serious. We must learn to trust this judgement and for others to trust us too’.
In 2012 food security levels in south central Somalia, eastern and north eastern Kenya and southern Ethiopia remain at crisis and emergency levels and are expected to persist until at least September. The 2011 drought and famine have left many communities without the necessary reserves to survive further shocks. For this reason, the mixed and generally below average March to May rains, steady rise in food prices and persistent insecurity facing the region means that many people will struggle to cope in 2012.
‘The communities we work with in the Horn of Africa region are still very vulnerable,’ said Naylor-Ngugi, ‘if the harvest is again poor this year, if conflict persists in preventing aid from reaching vulnerable communities in Somalia, and if long term investment is not prioritised emergency responses may again be necessary. However, we should not have to reach crisis levels before taking action. By investing in longer term interventions that protect people’s assets and supporting them to cope and develop resilience to the continued challenges of food insecurity in the region we should be able to turn this cycle around’.
CARE is calling for:
• Regional bodies and Governments to embrace the structural and policy changes necessary to improve the lives of vulnerable communities in the Horn of Africa
• Donors to support funding mechanisms that allow for emergency scale up and response within existing development funded programmes
• Governments in the Horn of Africa to prioritise greater infrastructural investment in areas facing food insecurity.
In 2011 CARE raised USD 16 million in an appeal for assistance for the Horn of Africa and reached over 2.8million beneficiaries. Needs over the next 5 years are estimated at USD320 million.
Dadaab, the largest refugee camp in the world is facing a critical funding shortage which will affect at least 200,000 people, a group of seven aid agencies, including CARE said last week. The agencies called on the international community to rethink its approach to long-term solutions for the camp, and warned that the gaps in aid could worsen insecurity in the region. For more information, please visit: http://www.care-international.org/Media-Releases/emergency-funds-running-dry-in-worlds-largest-refugee-camp.html