At a public forum on the famine in the Horn of Africa held at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota on Wednesday, USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah “announced the U.S. is pledging an additional $23 million in grants to support famine relief efforts, bringing the total commitment from the United States to $600 million,” the Associated Press/KSTP reports (Theisen, 8/31). House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Rep. Tim Walz (D-Minn.) also attended the forum, which was moderated by Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) and drew about 350 people, including many in the local Somali community, KARE 11 writes (Croman, 8/31).
Environment and Climate Change
“U.N. refugee agency chief Antonio Guterres said Tuesday that relief groups should increase aid to war-battered and drought-hit Somalis to reduce the exodus to neighboring countries,” Agence France-Presse reports. “‘Our objective is to create conditions for Somalis to be able to live in Somalia and for Somali refugees, when they have the opportunity, to go back home safely,’ Guterres added,” the news agency notes. “Tens of thousands of Somalis have in recent months fled to camps in Ethiopia and Kenya due to the drought, the Horn of Africa’s worst in decades,” AFP writes (8/30).
“Erratic weather has exacerbated food insecurity in one of Indonesia’s driest regions,” including the districts of West Timor (TTS), Nusa Tengarra Timor (NTT), and North Central Timor (TTU), “leaving farmers and families hoping for the best as October’s planting season approaches,” IRIN reports. “The availability of food is a constant issue in … the mostly undeveloped eastern province where an estimated 30 percent live below the poverty line on an average income of US$280 a year” and “[m]ore than half of all children younger than five are underweight and stunted, according to the Nutrition Security and Food Security report [.pdf] on NTT in 2010,” the news service writes.
At a meeting of the African Union (A.U.) in Ethiopia on Thursday, “African governments … pledged $46 million for the crisis in the Horn of Africa amid warnings that the emergency stretches far beyond hunger to encompass health, security and livelihood,” the Guardian reports. The amount fell short of the $50 million asked for by the aid group Africans Act 4 Africa, the newspaper adds, noting that “the African Development Bank announced a $300 million donation for long-term development in the Horn of Africa” (Tran, 8/25). Reuters reports that money is “to be spent over a four-year period, not to be used to bridge a $1.4 billion shortfall aid groups say they need for the emergency” (Malone, 8/26).
The African Union (A.U.) “held a rare fundraiser in Ethiopia Thursday in a bid to plug a $1.1 billion shortfall in aid for millions facing starvation in the Horn of Africa’s worst drought in decades,” Agence France-Presse reports. The A.U. has pledged $500,000 of an estimated $2.4 billion “required to assist the 12.4 million drought victims,” according to AFP (Vaughan, 8/25).
IRIN reports on the difficulties some people living with HIV in Kenya face in accessing food. “Partly because of a prolonged dry spell, some 3.6 million Kenyans need emergency food assistance,” and, while there is food aid available in Kenya, poor roads prevent the aid from reaching some villages, according to IRIN.
The World Food Programme and Development Seed have developed a map showing current food security situations in the Horn of Africa and featuring “operational data collected from organizations responding to the humanitarian emergency … The featured data was provided by the Famine Early Warning System Network (FEWS NET) and the Food…
The cost of addressing the effects of drought and famine in the Horn of Africa “has soared to $2.5 billion, just to keep malnourished children alive, and the number of people requiring humanitarian aid has doubled” since “November last year, [when] it would have cost $500 million to prevent the situation from deteriorating,” Jo Khinmaung, a food security policy adviser for Tearfund, writes in the Guardian’s “Poverty Matters Blog.”
UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake told reporters on Friday that “[m]ore than 300,000 children in the Horn of Africa are severely malnourished ‘and in imminent risk of dying’ because of drought and famine,” the Associated Press/Washington Post reports.
“The United States has offered North Korea up to $900,000 in emergency flood assistance but has made no decision yet on a broader request for humanitarian food aid for the isolated country, the State Department said on Thursday,” Reuters reports. State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland “said the flood assistance would not include food, and was considered separately from a standing appeal by North Korea for food aid to offset bad harvests that a U.N. report said earlier this year had left millions hungry,” according to the news agency (Quinn, 8/18).