It is critical that countries and communities in the Horn of Africa have the capacity to protect the vulnerable livelihoods on which so many people’s lives depend, while also strengthening the resilience of affected households and livelihood systems during this crisis and beyond. A combination of immediate humanitarian action and strategic medium-term investments in risk management to promote and safeguard the foundations of food security now and in the future is urgently needed.
Today’s food and nutrition security challenges in the Horn of Africa range from a deepening drought affecting nearly 12 million people (Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia and Uganda) and conflict to peace transitions (Sudan, South Sudan and northern Uganda), to rising staple and input prices and more localized protracted and seasonal conflicts. Of particular concern are the interlocking vulnerabilities and regional effects of drought, animal disease, conflict and displacement, particularly for populations in southern Somalia.
Effective management of the current crises calls for strong capacities at all levels through:
- proactive leadership of African governments, the African Union (AU) and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development a (IGAD) in implementing humanitarian, recovery and development strategies;
- effective, evidence-based, coordinated, accountable and appropriate humanitarian support to save lives through support to life-sustaining livelihoods;
- close integration of action for risk reduction with humanitarian intervention strategies; and
- strategic investments in medium- and long-term strategies to enhance livelihood resilience and strengthen local and national capacities for agricultural development and disaster risk management.
The patterns of resilience and vulnerability in particular at the level of households and livelihood systems vary throughout the region, requiring careful monitoring and tailored humanitarian, recovery, risk reduction and development approaches. A brief overview of the immediate and medium- to longer-term strategies for each country is provided in this paper.
Twin tracks to food security
Overall, the drought emergency – the most severe food security emergency in the world – requires concerted, generous and informed response strategies targeted at saving lives and ensuring recovery through supporting agriculture-based livelihood systems, including:
- protecting the livelihood assets of vulnerable, small-scale herders;
- ensuring resources for crop production of farmers for the upcoming planting season; and
- protecting vulnerable households from rising food prices, including through expanded productive safety nets.
Even as there is increased focus on humanitarian responses to the drought emergency, concomitant resources are required for medium- to longer-term sustainable interventions to:
- achieve sustained and equitable agricultural growth and rural development;
- ensure adequate availability of and access to nutritious food for all; and
- build sustainable livelihoods to increase resilience in the face of accelerated disaster cycles and climate variability.
These measures are consistent with the twin-track approach of the updated UN Comprehensive Framework for Action, i.e. to meet the immediate needs of vulnerable populations while building longer-term resilience (the “twin tracks to food security”) and address all aspects of food security – access, availability, use and stability – in order to secure sustainable reductions in hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition.