Aid effort for drought-hit Horn of Africa must include long-term measures – UN

13 July 2011

Participants at a United Nations meeting on food security said today that short-term drought assistance to millions of people in the Horn of Africa must be linked to long-term sustainability aimed at putting an end to the “cycle of recurring crises,” a UN spokesman said.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called the meeting of the High-Level Task Force on the Global Food Security Crisis (HLTF), which took place at UN Headquarters, “to review the deteriorating situation in the Horn of Africa, and to consider options for its overall global strategy,” his spokesperson, Martin Nesirky, told reporters.

The Task Force concluded that “short-term relief must be linked to building long-term sustainability and resilience through climate-smart agriculture, so an end can be put to the cycle of recurring crises,” he stated.

“The Secretary-General stressed that the global effort should be in synch with energy and climate change strategies.”

The Task Force, which comprises the heads of more than 20 UN departments, also emphasized the role of trade and commodity markets in helping with improved agricultural productivity and enterprise building among small-scale farmers, especially women, in the developing world.

The 11 million people in the Horn of Africa that need life-saving assistance as they face the worst drought in decades and others at risk are also receiving social support, water and sanitation. Pastoralist communities are especially vulnerable, and women and children are worst affected, Mr. Nesirky said.

Yesterday Mr. Ban called on countries to urgently support the work of UN agencies in the affected region. Humanitarian agencies have asked for $1.6 billion for their work, but have so far received only about half that amount.

Meanwhile, the UN World Food Programme (WFP) said today it is working with other UN agencies and donor countries to “explore every opportunity” to return to southern Somalia from which it withdrew in 2010 because of threats to the lives of its staff and the imposition of taxes by the rebel Al-Shabaab group which controls the area.

Last Wednesday Al-Shabaab announced that it had withdrawn its restrictions on international humanitarian workers. Mark Bowden, the UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Somalia, welcomed the announcement but asked for guarantees against workers being targeted or taxed.


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