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Will global donors rise to the occasion and prevent starvation and death for millions in Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya?

Will global donors rise to the occasion and prevent starvation and death for millions in Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya?

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April 25, 2022 – As donors convene in Geneva, over 50 NGOs and NGO networks call for an urgent and substantial step-up in funding and leadership to respond to the humanitarian catastrophe facing millions in the Horn of Africa due to the severe drought, warning that further delays will cost lives.

This drought is compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic, conflict, desert locusts, and now a further surge in food and commodity prices due to the conflict in Ukraine. Over 14 million people across Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya – about half of them children – are already on the verge of starvation. This number will rise to 20 million by the middle of 2022 if the rains continue to fail, prices continue to rise, and significant funds are not surged to meet the needs of those in crisis. In Somalia alone, over half a million people have already fled their homes in search of food and water since the start of 2022.

Even in the best-case scenario with above-average rains, it would take months for people to recover, and as many as 11 million people would remain highly food insecure in drought-affected areas through September 2022.

Women and children, especially girls, are always hit hardest by a food crisis. Many are at an increased risk of abuse and gender-based violence, including child marriage. Nearly 5.7 million children are threatened by acute malnutrition which leads to lifelong cognitive and physical impairments, increases the risk of other illnesses, and ultimately causes death. “Because of the drought, we are skipping meals. I have to ration supper, and divide meals so that some of my children who need additional food are able to eat more than others,” **says Elizabeth Akaale, mother of seven children living in Turkana, Kenya’s northwesternmost county. **

The outpouring of support and solidarity for people affected by the conflict in Ukraine has demonstrated a strong sense of shared humanity. However, as humanitarian and development actors working in Somalia, Ethiopia, and Kenya, we have yet to see the same level of urgency and solidarity for millions of people like Elizabeth and her children, who bear the brunt of some of today’s biggest shared challenges, including the climate crisis.

“Not getting much-needed international attention and additional resources at a time of historic need in the Horn of Africa would result in the loss of thousands of lives that could have been saved by a timely and at-scale response,” says Heather Amstutz, Danish Refugee Council Regional Director for East Africa and the Great Lakes.

We saw the horrific consequences of acting too late in Somalia in 2011, when over a quarter of a million people died as a result of drought and famine. In 2017 however, the Somali government and humanitarian community prevented the worst impacts of drought by swiftly acting on early warning signals, showing that a collective “no-regrets” approach to funding and programming can effectively avert famine. Now, more than ever, our shared responsibility must translate into action for communities in the Horn of Africa.

“In Somalia, national and local actors are making every effort to intensify their response, but there is only so much they can do without the necessary funds. It is critical that funds are directly channeled through local actors who work on addressing the root causes of hunger through a community-driven, integrated humanitarian response,” **says Issack Malim, Executive Director of the Nexus Platform in Somalia. **

Failing to act quickly will also cost more to donors in the long run and risk reversing the last decade of investments in building resilience and ending drought emergencies in the region.

Humanitarian partners have requested more than $4.4 billion in funding to provide life-saving aid and protection to approximately 29.1 million people in Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya in 2022. For Somalia, so far less than 5% ($64.7 million) of that has been secured. The near-record levels of resources and attention for the Ukraine response sit in stark contrast with the badly underfunded crisis in the Horn of Africa, but also show that with enough political will, the response could be rapidly scaled up.

Efforts by the EU and UN to convene the international community to discuss the crisis in the Horn of Africa and unlock additional, flexible funds is an urgent first step, but we were disappointed to see the event downgraded from a pledging conference to a high-level roundtable. Preventing further deterioration of the crisis will require donors to start acting with a sense of urgency and take decisive action now. The question that remains, as we watch global donors gather in Geneva this week, is will they rise to the occasion?

This statement was endorsed by the following 53 local, national and international NGOs and NGO networks working in Somalia, Ethiopia, and Kenya:

“In addition to a hunger crisis, we are seeing communities’ capacity to cope and recover from shock at its breaking point. The clock is ticking, and we must act quickly and wisely by increasing investments to strengthen communities’ resilience to future shocks,”** says****Sean Granville-Ross, Mercy Corps Regional Director for Africa.**

In the past, the strong leadership and convening power of donor governments have proven very effective at mobilizing attention and resources in moments of humanitarian crisis. Today, that leadership is missing in the Horn of Africa.

Action Against Hunger, Action in Semi-Arid Lands, ACT Alliance, ADRA Kenya, Aid Vision, Arid Lands Development Focus (ALDEF Kenya), ASAL Humanitarian Network Kenya, Care International, Catholic Agency for Overseas Development (CAFOD), Centre for peace and Democracy, Christian Aid, CLEAR Global, Cohere (Formerly Xavier Project), Concern Worldwide, Daami Youth Development Organization, DanChurchAid, Danish Refugee Council, Diakonie Katastrophenhilfe, European Committee for Training and Agriculture, FCA Kenya, FCA Somalia, FilmAid Kenya, Food for the Hungry, Gargaar Relief Development Organization (GREDO), Horn of Africa Voluntary Youth Committee (HAVOYOCO), Humanitarian Translation for Somalia, Humanity & Inclusion, International Aid Services Kenya, International Council of Voluntary Agencies (ICVA), International Rescue Committee, Irman Foundation, Johanniter Unfall Hilfe e.V. Kenya, KAALO, Kenya Charter for Change Working Group, Malteser International, Mercy Corps, Misereor, Norwegian Refugee Council, Oxfam, Plan International, Relief Reconstruction and Development Organization, Social-life and Agricultural Development Organization (SADO), Save the Children, Somali NGO Consortium, Somalia Nexus Platform, Save Somali Women and Children (SSWC), Taakulo Somali Community, Tearfund, Trocaire, Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO), WASDA, We World, World Vision International.

 
 

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Notes to editors

The World Food Programme has warned that the number of people facing hunger in the Horn of Africa due to the drought might rise from 14 million to 20 million by the end of the year.

In Somalia, around 6 million people (38 percent of the entire population) are suffering from severe food insecurity (IPC3 or above), with 1.7 million of them in Emergency (IPC 4), and 81,000 people projected to face famine conditions (IPC 5) before June. There is a real risk of famine if humanitarian aid is not scaled up immediately.

According to FSNWG’s Special Report on Drought, under an average to above-average rainfall scenario, Widespread Stressed (IPC Phase 2) and Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes would be likely through September 2022, with between 7 to 11 million people still highly food insecure (IPC Phase 3+) in drought-affected areas.

According to UNICEF nearly 5.7 million children are threatened by acute malnourishment in the Horn of Africa, with more than 1.7 million at risk of severe acute malnutrition.

As trade routes from Ukraine and Russia are severely disrupted, staples such as wheat are becoming increasingly scarce and expensive. Countries such as Somalia, which relies on Russia and Ukraine for 90% of its wheat supplies, have seen wheat and oil prices rise by 300%. Because of the disruption in these imports, the cost of bread and other essential products is rapidly rising, disproportionately affecting the most vulnerable.

For more information on the impact of drought and food crises on gender-based violence, check the Gender Based Violence AoR’s Brief Overview of Research, Evidence and Learning on the Links between Food Insecurity and Gender-Based Violence in Conflict Affected Settings.

For more information on humanitarian funding gaps for Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya, refer to the UN OCHA’s Financial Tracking Service

The High-Level Roundtable on the Horn of Africa Drought is co-hosted by the European Union and the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). It will take place in Geneva on Tuesday 26 April 2022 from 4:00 pm – 6:30 pm (EAT) and will be held in a hybrid format (online and in-person).

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ASAL Humanitarian Network Drought Emergency Response in Kenya, 2021

ASAL Humanitarian Network Drought Emergency Response in Kenya, 2021

The ASAL Humanitarian Network is a platform led by local and national NGOs promoting a humanitarian system that enables more locally-led responses. Its current 30 members are all operational within the Arid and Semi-Arid Land (ASAL) counties in Northern Kenya. They have a wide array of expertise, including food security and livelihoods, cash transfer programming, WASH, media and advocacy and community engagement. As a network, member organizations complement and add value to each other’s programmes and have invested in structures that cover the breadth of the ASAL counties that can be used for rapid and timely delivery of interventions, whilst coming together with a collective voice against injustice.

AHN and its INGO partners are fundraising for an overall proposal with a target of USD 12 million to cover 20,830 households in 10 counties (5 cycles especially for eastern flank of the country) WASH, Gender and Protection and Multipurpose Cash Transfer (MPCT) at 50% Minimum Expenditure Budget of Kes 7,965 + Kes 134 transaction costs in accordance to the cash working group rate for IPC3+ in crisis populations. Drought emergency response has started in Isiolo, Marsabit, and pipeline for Turkana, Samburu, Wajir, Garissa, Mandera, and Tana River counties.

For further information and requests, please contact:

Ahmed Ibrahim – ALDEF CEO and Convener of ASAL Humanitarian Network, ahmed.ibrahim@aldef.org

Michelle Van Den Berg – Strategic Coordinator, michelle.van.den.berg@aldef.org

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One in ten Kenyans face crisis levels of food insecurity – Joint statement by the ASAL Humanitarian Network

One in ten Kenyans face crisis levels of food insecurity – Joint statement by the ASAL Humanitarian Network

In March 2021, over1.4 million individuals (equivalent to 10% of the analyzed population in the ASAL areas) faced high levels of acute food insecurity(Integrated Phase Classification 3 and above)and were in need of urgent action. 412,066 children between 6 and 59 months old and 98,759 pregnant and lactating women were also estimated to be malnourished and in need of treatment1.

Forecasts suggest another below-average rainy season starting in March 2021. Should this poor rainy season materialize, sharp food security deteriorations beyond the current 1.4 million food insecure people are likely.

These shocking figures should not be considered business as usual. Immediate anticipatory action is required to prevent further deterioration in pockets of severe malnutrition and food insecurity. The underperformance of the October to December short rains meant that pasture availability was poor and crop harvests were below average in many marginal agricultural areas. Livestock diseases are also anticipated to increase if animals are forced to migrate further should the next rainy season fail. Desert locust swarms
re-invaded Kenya in December 2020, further impacting farmers and agro-pastoral households. The desert locust infestation has been the worst in 70 years, affecting up to 29 counties during the peak of the crisis.

19 cases, and WHO statistics show that the current wave is the fastest growing that the country has faced since the beginning of the pandemic2. By March 22, 2021, positivity rates increased to 19 percent compared to 2.6 percent in January of the same year. A steep increase in the number of hospital admissions related to COVID-19 has also been witnessed, with a reported increase of 52 percent in 13 days during the second half of March3; putting a strain on an already fragile health care system. On top of that, households are
facing restricted access to health and nutrition services due to the pandemic, a slowdown in trade, and losses of incomes and livelihoods due to restrictions put in place to control the spread of the virus.

A recent assessment conducted by members of the ASAL Humanitarian Network supported by ACTED, Oxfam, and Concern Worldwide highlighted that drought conditions and lack of rains have placed a strain on water assets, water access, and livelihoods4. As of March 2021, 814 water trucking sites were reported across Turkana, Wajir, Mandera, Marsabit, Garissa, Samburu, Isiolo, and Tana River.

Drought puts persistent strain on pastoral livelihoods, undermining household resilience, income and food security, and access to water. Similarly, agricultural activities were also reported to have been adversely affected by drought and desert locust infestations. This is further compounded by the predicted below-normal long seasonal rains between March and May 2021 in most of the ASAL counties.

Kenya is witnessing an increase in the recurrence and severity of climatic shocks, including flooding, droughts and desert locust infestations. Without county authorities allocating resources for preparedness and addressing the strengthening of communities’ resilience, these crises will have a devastating impact on the ability of households to respond to future ones.

These compounded crises will thus lead to increased vulnerability of pastoralist and agro-pastoralist communities across the ASAL counties of Kenya. It is imperative that county authorities and the national government invest in preparedness and that early action is initiated to safeguard the livelihoods and food security of hundreds of thousands of vulnerable households. The ASAL Humanitarian Network advocates for the humanitarian donors and agencies to develop contingency planning and mobilize resources for the
affected areas of Kenya in support of the local authorities and the Government of Kenya’s efforts.

For further information and requests, please contact:

Ahmed Ibrahim / ALDEF CEO and Convener of ASAL Humanitarian Network, ahmed.ibrahim@aldef.org

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Kenyan ASAL counties face a looming disaster as drought intensifies

Joint statement by the ASAL Humanitarian Network

Following yet another below-average long rain season between March and May 2021, food security in the Arid and Semi-Arid Land (ASAL) counties in Kenya is deteriorating quickly. This is an alarming situation at the onset of the dry season, with over 2 million people already experiencing food insecurity (IPC 3 and 4) and numbers are expected to continue rising. Immediate action is required to prevent further deterioration of food security and nutrition.

The underperformance of the long rains means that pasture and browse conditions are below average for this time of year. The below-average conditions of pasture and browse have already affected the condition of livestock – and their condition is likely to worsen due to increasing distances to water and pasture and an anticipated increase in livestock diseases and livestock deaths. Distance to water sources has increased already to about 40% further than the June average, the recharge of open water sources is already at 30-45% below average and the cost of water in the pastoral livelihood zones has increased by 40%. Tensions and conflict over limited access to resources are increasing as pastoralist communities are moving in search of water and pasture, both within the traditionally negotiated areas or outside of these locations.

The below-average rain season has come at a challenging time where farmers and agro-pastoral households are still recovering from the damage caused by the desert locust invasions, especially in northern pastoral areas.

The COVID-19 pandemic has further exacerbated the situation by restricting access to health and nutrition services, a slowdown in trade and losses of income and livelihoods due to measures put in place to control the spread of the virus. Between March and April 2021, Kenya came through a third wave, which was the fastest growing and the highest in number of people infected since the beginning of the pandemic. However, since the beginning of June, the COVID-19 positivity rates have started increasing again and a fourth wave of increased COVID infections is looming.

The locust, COVID-19 and drought crises come at a time when Kenya is grappling with a growing debt and fiscal crisis. While the Government continues to seek more loans to fulfil its short- and long-term commitments, debt repayments in FY 2021/22 already consume up to 70% of the revenue targets, with little remaining for other obligations. Liquidity problems between March to June resulted in delayed Hunger Safety Net Programme (HSNP) payments, directly affecting the most vulnerable. As the most vulnerable are further left behind, and with an impending food and nutrition crisis, this is not setting the country on the path to economic recovery anytime soon.

With the onset of drought on top of the existing crises in Kenya’s ASAL counties, the ASAL Humanitarian Network (AHN) and partners (ACTED, Concern and Oxfam) have started early action responses, including cash transfers, complementing interventions by communities and counties. In an effort to scale up early action interventions, results from an AHN Drought Needs Assessment will become available by 31st of July, focusing on the ASAL counties most at risk, including: Baringo, Garissa, Isiolo, Mandera, Marsabit, Tana River, Samburu, Turkana, and Wajir. The needs assessment will provide a snapshot on how the drought situation is progressing and will inform immediate interventions, before the more in-depth results from the Long Rains Assessment will become available.

As food security is rapidly deteriorating and once again unveiling systemic inequality, assistance to mitigate the impacts and act before it is too late is lagging behind. The ASAL Humanitarian Network:

  • Calls upon the national and county governments to release available funding and to work in close cooperation with development and humanitarian partners.
  • Urges for mobilization of (no-regrets) anticipatory financing and early action to protect affected households from the deepening impact of two consecutive poor rain seasons, in de midst of a COVID-19 pandemic, and as households are still recovering from widespread desert locust infestations.
  • Recommends the adoption of Forecast Based Action that combines water and food security indicators, urges the Water and Sanitation Coordination Group (WESCORD) to prioritize the incorporation of a water severity index, which sets in prior to food insecurity in ASAL context
  • Supports enhanced coordination to monitor the context and to reinforce an inclusive response effort, including strong linkages between different ministries, integrating interventions across the development and humanitarian nexus and the reactivation of coordination at national, county and operational levels through County Steering Groups and sectoral working groups, including for cash, WASH, health and nutrition.
  • Calls for locally-led responses that are timely, and that sustains and reinforces existing community efforts.

For further information and requests, please contact:

Ahmed Ibrahim / ALDEF CEO and Convener of ASAL Humanitarian Network, ahmed.ibrahim@aldef.org