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Brussels, 17 March 2008

Horn of Africa: Commission allocates €30 million decision for drought preparedness

The European Commission is providing €30 million in humanitarian aid to improve drought preparedness in the Greater Horn of Africa. The lives and livelihoods of around 12 million people are at risk in the region because of recurrent severe droughts. The Commission's aim is to reduce their vulnerability by helping communities to improve their response to and preparedness for recurrent drought cycles. Nomadic and semi-nomadic pastoralists in seven countries (Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Sudan and Uganda) will benefit from the assistance. The new funding will bring the Commission's total humanitarian support for vulnerable people in the Greater Horn of Africa to almost €460 million since 2005. All funds are channelled through the Commission's Humanitarian Aid department under the responsibility of Louis Michel, the European Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid.

Louis Michel said: "The human tragedy in the Horn of Africa continues to get our full attention. Humanitarian aid is mainly about emergency response and saving lives but with this regional decision, the Commission has stepped up its focus on disaster preparedness and risk reduction, with the aim of increasing people's resilience."

The Commission's humanitarian support focuses on cross-border initiatives: drought is an issue that transcends national boundaries and the same is true of the challenges that confront the region's pastoralists. These key issues are addressed in the EU's regional political partnership for peace, security and development in the Horn of Africa.[1]

The Greater Horn of Africa is one of the poorest and most conflict-prone regions in the world. Climate change and, in particular, the long-term decline in rainfall is causing desertification. Farming populations have little time to recover after one drought before the next one occurs. Drought cycles of just two to three years are common. It is estimated that around half the estimated 24 million farmers in the region are at risk. The Commission aims to assist these people by concentrating its support on five major areas of need: water, animal health, human health, mainstreaming of community preparedness and coordination.

The Commission's financial support covers:

  • the maintenance of critical water points;
  • the mapping of water sources;
  • providing water maintenance equipment;
  • the formation of community networks;
  • support for traditional structures (such as camel trains to carry water);
  • improved access to unused rangelands (where possible and appropriate);
  • support for early warning systems and institutions responsible for disaster prevention and preparedness at regional and district level;
  • vaccination campaigns (for humans, in particular children, as well as animals);
  • the delivery of primary health care (including mother and child health care); and
  • improved sanitation.

This new funding follows on from the previous Regional Drought Decision for the Greater Horn of Africa, worth €10 million, that was adopted in 2006 (see IP/06/775).

Commission-funded humanitarian projects are implemented by non-governmental relief organisations, specialised UN agencies and the Red Cross/Red Crescent movement. The Commission has a humanitarian regional support office in Kenya's capital, Nairobi, and humanitarian experts based in Sudan and Uganda. They closely follow developments in the humanitarian situation, monitor the use of Commission relief funds and play an active role in the local coordination of relief efforts.
For further information:

[1] See also IP/06/338: "EU Commissioner Louis Michel proposes a strategy for peace, security and development in the Horn of Africa".

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