The international community must ensure that measures are in place to deal with the food and health crises unfolding in the Horn region
The health situation is indeed worrisome with numerous outbreaks threatening the lives of already fragile populations. The crisis of drought and food insecurity is being compounded by climate change, cyclical bouts of conflict, rising food prices and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. On top of that, Ethiopia’s northernmost region of Tigray was the centre of a year-long armed conflict since November 2020 involving ethnoreligious militias, the federal government, and neighbouring Eritrean military. The conflict led to the displacement of many populations, diverted the delivery of essential humanitarian supplies, and contributed to the further destabilisation of the already volatile HOA region.
The conflict led to the displacement of many populations, diverted the delivery of essential humanitarian supplies, and contributed to the further destabilisation of the already volatile HOA region.
Africa’s macroeconomic performance and its attempts to integrate countries on the continent with the global economy continue to be hindered by exogenous shocks like the Russo-Ukrainian war and the COVID-19 pandemic. Rising fuel and food prices, inflation, financial instability, and declining currencies relative to the dollar are disrupting the continent’s recovery from the pandemic. It is no secret that various African countries are dependent on agricultural imports. Russia and Ukraine are major exporters of items such as wheat, sunflower oil, barley, and soybeans to a number of African countries like Egypt, Sudan, Nigeria, Tanzania, Kenya, South Africa, and Algeria. However, the disruption in trade and supply chains caused due to Russia’s decision to block exports of grains through the ports at the Black Sea resulted in the prices of wheat skyrocketing. This development had a profound impact on African countries that are already struggling to cope with the multiplier effects of drought, COVID-19, and climate change.
The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) estimates that without proper international attention and support for the displaced populations, certain districts in Somalia may face famine.
One of the primary way to galvanise and mobilise resources to respond to the crisis has been consolidated appeals at the country-level. The Government of Ethiopia put in place a Drought Response Plan in July 2022, which called for a funding of US$1.66 billion to respond to the food crisis. In Kenya, a “Flash Appeal” has been in place since 2011. This appeal has been revised now and calls for US$290 million. Although the Kenyan government has received some amount of this appeal, critical sectors like health, protection, water hygiene and education, continue to remain underfunded. In neighbouring Somalia, the situation is similar to Kenya. While the Somalia Humanitarian Response plan calls for US$2.6 billion in funds, sectors like education, protection, and water hygiene continue to be underfunded.
The Government of Ethiopia put in place a Drought Response Plan in July 2022, which called for a funding of US$1.66 billion to respond to the food crisis.
The drought response has unfortunately had to predominantly rely on a single donor—the US. The US has contributed to each of Ethiopia, Kenya, and Somalia’s humanitarian response plans. Most of these fundings have been channelled through the UN and United States Agency for International Development (USAID). China has entered into conflict mediation efforts in the Horn. It sponsored the Africa Peace, Good Governance and Development Conference in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in June 2022. The United Kingdom allocated US$156 million in funding for humanitarian aid in East Africa in order to play a more proactive role in the continent. India, for its part, has spearheaded the proposal to declare 2023 as the International Year of Millets. Unlike other staples, millets require less water and agricultural inputs and is a traditional food that is consumed by millions of people in Africa. Whatever the international response has been so far, it has been largely inadequate. There is a clear funding deficit for the HOA region as compared to funding that the Ukraine appeal has received. This points toward a broader inequality in global aid distribution, much along the same lines as ‘Vaccine Apartheid’ which African countries were subjected to. In the long run, the impact of climate change is going to become more severe and frequent. Therefore, it is the responsibility of the international community to ensure that funds, social and humanitarian safety networks, and early anticipatory appeals are in place if the Horn of Africa is to prevent a famine in 2023.
To prevent the declaration of famine in the Horn of Africa, urgent, immediate, and coordinated action from the global community is required.
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Abhishek Mishra is an Associate Fellow with the Manohar Parrikar Institute for Defence Studies and Analysis (MP-IDSA). His research focuses on India and China’s engagement ...Read More +
Sophia Donald Prakash is a recent economics graduate from Mata Sundri College for Women University of Delhi with a strong background in research methodology and ...Read More +