Global perspective Human stories

Long-term plan vital to combat crisis engulfing Horn of Africa – UN official

Long-term plan vital to combat crisis engulfing Horn of Africa – UN official

Solutions to chronic food shortages in the Horn of Africa jeopardizing the lives of almost 20 million people in the region lie in long-term economic strategies as well as providing immediate emergency assistance, stressed a senior United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) official.

Despite near normal rainfall from October to December 2008, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia and Uganda continue to suffer from high levels of food insecurity due to high and volatile food prices, market disruptions, significant losses to farmers’ assets and regional conflicts among other factors.

Livestock diseases and cattle rustling across the borders of Kenya, Ethiopia, Sudan and Uganda have also compounded the situation for an estimated 15 to 18 million pastoral farmers who are among the most vulnerable groups within the region.

Although humanitarian efforts have shown some positive results in the short-term, a sustained recovery effort requires a development plan that restores and preserves livelihoods as well as reduces future risks, Tegegnework Gettu, UNDP Director of the Regional Bureau for Africa, said in his closing remarks to a two-day High-Level Meeting on the Horn of Africa Crisis.

“The magnitude, complexity and urgency of the humanitarian situation in the Horn of Africa –and the underlying structural causes – oblige actors across the humanitarian and development spectrum to move away from a ‘business as usual’ model towards a different business model,” said Mr. Gettu, who chaired the meeting held in Nairobi, Kenya.

“This meeting has highlighted three elements of the current crisis: conflict and insecurity, drought and food insecurity and a socio-economic crisis,” he told the meeting, attended by high-level representatives of ten UN agencies, 12 international and non-governmental organizations (NGOs), donors and the World Bank.

“It has been made clear that the problems are structural, yet we are constantly responding in crisis mode,” he added.

Mr. Gettu underscored “the importance of strategic partnerships to bridge the divide between humanitarian relief and long-term, sustainable development by investing in capacity building and the strengthening of institutions.”