NAIROBI, Kenya (August 24, 2011)
– As the African Union (AU) meets in Ethiopia today (Thursday, August 25) for a pledging conference to tackle the drought and famine in the Horn of Africa, aid agency World Vision stresses that time is running out for hundreds of thousands of children across the region.
“The African Union and others in the international community were warned late last year that a severe drought was on its way,” says World Vision spokesperson in Addis Ababa, Njeri Kinyoho. “We need to see action now on pledges of funding and to ensure the money is spent to help those children most affected.”
Across the Horn there are 2.3 million acutely malnourished children. More than 29,000 from Somalia alone have already died during the first three months of the crisis.
As well as increasing pledges to help meet the US$1.3 billion funding gap for the total US$2.4 billion needed, it is important that the leaders of AU member states ensure that resources continue to flow to help communities build resilience to future ongoing droughts.
World Vision’s development work has already proved that investment in irrigation, agriculture and marketing helps villagers cope with drought conditions that cause children to die in communities where no such investment has been made.
“More attention needs to be paid to giving long-term help to families and communities to ensure they can withstand shocks such as droughts,” Kinyoho said. “Women like Gaalo Adan Ali need urgent help.” A Somali mother of nine, Gaalo Adan Ali suffered two consecutive dry seasons and lost two of her children on a 15-day trek to Puntland in northern Somalia to find food.
Country-level planning and delivery is key to long-term sustainability, which is why the leaders of the AU member states are so important. Comprehensive national food policies and other food security strategies do exist, but many regional and national agreements have not been fully implemented. Countries need to live up to their promises.
In 2010, a number of international players developed an action plan to address the root causes of the food insecurity that has plagued the Horn of Africa for nearly three decades. The plan calls for a partnership between countries, regional institutions, humanitarian organizations and the development assistance community, to link long-term development efforts with humanitarian assistance in order to build food security. The African Union and the international community should prioritize this as their key focus to address the current crisis and help prevent future reoccurrence of such tragedies.
World Vision seeks to raise US$100 million to fund a Horn of Africa-wide response that targets 2.5 million of those most affected. So far, $36 million has been committed to the response by the organization.
Multi-Agency Letter re. the African Union Summit (PDF)
World Vision Recommendations for the AU Pledging Conference for the Horn of Africa (PDF)
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About World Vision:
World Vision is a Christian humanitarian organization dedicated to working with children, families, and their communities worldwide reach their full potential by tackling the causes of poverty and injustice. We serve the world's poor— regardless of religion, race, ethnicity or gender.For more information on their efforts, visitWorldVision.org/press or follow them on Twitter at @WorldVisionNews