UN and partners appeal for $7 billion to prevent disasters in the Horn of Africa

By: Francisco May. 25,2023

More than 43 million people across Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia continue to face one of the worst droughts in recent history, triggered by five consecutive seasons of poor rainfall.

Years of conflict and insecurity have triggered mass displacement, compounded by soaring food prices and the recent conflict in Sudan.

Later in the day, UN OCHA announced that donors had pledged $2.4 billion.

Call to action
Guterres stressed, "Action must be taken now to prevent the crisis from turning into a disaster. Let's act together now to provide greater support more quickly."

The pledging event was convened by the United Nations and Italy, Qatar, the United Kingdom and the United States in partnership with three affected countries in the Horn of Africa.

Guterres said he witnessed firsthand the devastating effects of the drought during his recent visits to Kenya and Somalia.

Families go out in search of food
"In parts of northern Kenya, parched land and dead livestock have forced many families to leave their homes in search of water, food and income," he said.

In the Somali city of Baidoa, fighting with al-Shabab militants continues. During his visit, Guterres met with local communities who have lost their livelihoods due to drought and insecurity.

He said, "I was struck by their hard struggle. I am inspired by their resilience, their courage and their determination to rebuild their lives. But they can't do it alone."

Local women speak with OCHA staff member Mirka, who was in drought-affected Garissa, Kenya, for the rally launched by the United Nations appeal. The women shared stories of how the drought has changed their lives and how they are coping.
OCHA/Basma Ourfali Local women speak with OCHA staff member Mirka, who was in drought-affected Garissa, Kenya, for a UN Appeal rally. The women share their stories of how the drought has changed their lives and how they are coping.
Stepping up support
Guterres pledges that "action will change everything." Last year, donors combined to provide survival assistance to 20 million people, helping to avert famine.

He called for increased support for multiple humanitarian programs in the region, which are currently less than 20 percent funded.

He said this is "unacceptable" and warned that without an immediate infusion of funds, "emergency operations will come to a standstill and people will die."

Building climate resilience
Guterres said data from the World Health Organization and UNICEF show that last year's drought in Somalia claimed 40,000 lives, half of them children under the age of 5.

Although recent rains have eased the situation, vulnerable communities still face another year of great hardship.

"People in the Horn of Africa are paying an unjustifiable price for the climate crisis, but they are not the ones who caused it," he said.

"We owe them solidarity. We also owe them aid. And we owe them hope for the future. That means immediate action is needed to ensure their survival. Sustained action is needed to help communities across the Horn of Africa adapt and increase their resilience to climate change."

New challenges emerge
In videos shown during the event, the heads of key UN agencies working in areas such as aid delivery, food security and assistance to migrants and refugees made the case for expanded support.

One of them was Joyce Msuya, the U.N. assistant secretary-general for humanitarian affairs and deputy emergency relief coordinator.

She said that while improved rainfall has begun to mitigate the effects of the drought, it has also brought new risks and challenges such as disease outbreaks.

The humanitarian community is determined to provide the support that is needed," she told participants. But five months into the year, there is a severe funding shortfall."

She noted that cash-based food assistance "has declined dramatically" and that "humanitarian partners have run out of funds and many face the possibility of having to suspend, scale back or close programs."

Planting seeds of hope
Somali Foreign Minister Abshir Omar Huruuse spoke at the pledging conference as one of the senior representatives of the affected countries.

He said this is a critical moment, as the federal government and partners have liberated more than a third of the areas previously controlled by the extremist Somali group Al-Shabaab.

"We can help more people through life-saving humanitarian support and high-impact development projects," he said.

Urge donors to consider increasing funding, Hulusse said, "Together, we will plant seeds of hope and nurture a future where no one dies for lack of assistance."
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