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Building political momentum for famine-free Horn of Africa

Diouf urges adequate and predictable funding for HoA region

Photo: ©UN photo
FAO's Director-General Jacques Diouf
24 September 2011, New York - FAO Director-General Jacques Diouf today called for “adequate and predictable” financial resources to resolve the crisis in the Horn of Africa.

“I have no doubt that the fight against hunger in the Horn of Africa can be won, and that food security can be ensured for all the people in the region,” Diouf told a Ministerial “Mini-Summit” meeting in New York to address the emergency. 

“But to achieve our goal , we need adequate, predictable financial resources to ensure that the technical knowledge we have and the strategies and programmes developed can help us achieve that vision,” he added.

Response delayed

The international community’s response to the drought and spreading famine affecting 13 million people in the Horn of Africa has, however, been “delayed and inadequate” so far, Diouf stated. Only 63 percent of the United Nations’ funding requirement – $2.5 billion in all – has been pledged.

The number of hungry people in the region had thus grown by 1.7 million in the last two months, with famine declared in six regions of Somalia and 750 000 people at high risk, he noted.

Mitigating future risk

In the course of two meetings held at FAO Headquarters in Rome in July and August, Governments and other stakeholders agreed on a series of measures to mitigate the immediate disaster and build resilient livelihoods to lessen the risk of future calamities, Diouf recalled.

Such medium and long-term interventions could be implemented through the existing Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) prepared with the support of FAO and approved by the African Union at Maputo in 2003, Diouf said. 

But “We must assure sufficient, predictable resource flows from both affected national governments and their development partners, without which, we will find ourselves returning to today’s agenda with depressing regularity,” Diouf stressed. 

Long-term development

Diouf said he was encouraged by a recent meeting of Horn of Africa Governments with the African Development and World Bank representatives in mid-September, when the banks agreed in principle to mobilize $500 million for long-term development.

“FAO has confirmed its readiness to support this programme through its technical, disaster-risk management, policy and investment planning expertise,” he declared.  

“Let us sustain the political momentum that will create a famine-free Horn of Africa,” Diouf concluded.