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Brussels, 20 July 2012
Joint Statement by Commissioner Kristalina Georgieva and Commissioner Andris Piebalgs on the Horn of Africa, a year after the declaration of famine
One year ago, the United Nations declared famine in Southern Somalia. At that time, the entire Horn of Africa was dramatically affected by a major food crisis triggered by drought, conflict, high food prices and the near impossibility of humanitarian organisations to reach the people who needed aid in Somalia. Malnutrition and mortality rates rose to unprecedented levels and hundreds of thousands of refugees from Somalia crossed the border to neighbouring countries, often reaching refugee camps on the verge of death from exhaustion and hunger.
The European Commission and Member States responded to the crisis from its outset; providing fast, generous and sustained assistance. Building on its long-established relief programmes in the Horn of Africa, the European Commission mobilised a total of €181million in fresh humanitarian aid funding from the EU budget in 2011, reaching some 6.5 million people in need of relief. We then significantly stepped up our assistance as the crisis grew worse.
Thanks to the massive international assistance given and the abatement of the drought, today the overall situation in the Horn of Africa is better than at any time during 2011, but the challenges remain huge and there is no room for complacency. Food insecurity continues. There are still close to 9 million people in need of humanitarian assistance.
The uneven distribution of rains and the conflict in Somalia which regularly spills over into neighbouring countries mean that the situation could easily worsen again. In refugee camps, most notably Dadaab in Kenya, the safety of residents and humanitarian workers is increasingly compromised. This is why the European Commission is not lowering its guard and continues to provide humanitarian assistance that is adequate to the scale of the needs on the ground.
In parallel to our massive emergency assistance, the European Commission has put in place an approach for the longer term, with the aim of reducing the scale and severity of such crises in the future. Droughts will continue to affect the Horn of Africa, but famine and hunger must be avoided by addressing the root causes of food insecurity and by building countries'' and people's resilience to the shocks and stress of climate change.
To this end, the European Commission recently launched SHARE - Supporting Horn of Africa Resilience. This is an approach that combines the muscle of its humanitarian and development aid instruments to strengthen the Horn of Africa's resilience to future crises. SHARE is a sign of Europe's long-term commitment to addressing the chronic food insecurity in this region.
As part of SHARE, €250 million are currently being invested to improve ways people can make a living and provide essential public services in the most affected areas of the region. This is Europe's way of providing 'smart aid' – aid that is well-targeted and links immediate measures to long-term efforts to make people more resilient and better able to help themselves.
The hunger crisis in the Horn of Africa has claimed many lives and caused suffering to millions of people. To honour the victims of the crisis, we will continue to do our best to assist the region in avoiding further famines. Food security and strengthening resilience is at the core of our actions in the Horn of Africa and other regions which are plagued by chronic food crises. We will work hard to ensure that the joint efforts of the EU, international community and national authorities will lead to a better future for people living in these vulnerable areas.
The Horn of Africa is faced with increasingly frequent and intense droughts. At the same time, population growth, increased pressures on resources, insecurity and prolonged geo-political instability have made it harder for the e poorest people and communities to cope with and recover from the droughts.
The 2011 drought, declared to be the worst in 60 years, caused shock that was exacerbated by heightened insecurity and high food prices, and led to a large humanitarian crisis affecting over 13 million people in Somalia, Kenya, Ethiopia and Djibouti.
One of the world's largest humanitarian donors to the Horn of Africa, the European Union provided €788 million in relief aid to the region in 2011. The European Commission alone has provided €181 million and has reached 6.5 million people in. For 2012, the Commission has allocated €132 million in humanitarian assistance to the Horn of Africa. The target areas for this aid are food assistance, nutrition, water and sanitation.
This assistance is helping people to purchase and transport food, as well as providing of medical care, as well as of water and sanitation. Contributing to the survival of millions of people, it is also supporting the first steps in the recovery process, for instance through the provision of seeds and tools, improved water management, and restocking of herds.
In response to the 2011 crisis in the Horn of Africa, the European Commission also developed an approach that aimed to not only address the immediate problems on the ground but also to foster long-term food security and build up the population's ability to cope with future droughts. This approach, entitled "SHARE - Supporting Horn of Africa Resilience" was further developed in early 2012 and aims to break the cycle of crises by strengthening the resilience of the local population and communities.
Projects and programmes of SHARE address, among other things, improved management of natural resources (land, water, grazing), livestock development (livestock health, trade), agriculture (improved and adapted practices, small-scale irrigation), alternative income generating activities and provision of basic services (water, sanitation).
For more information
Hot topic - "Horn of Africa crisis: one year on":
MEMO 12/591 - EU Development Cooperation – Horn of Africa
Link to ECHO's factsheet on the Horn of Africa:
Website of the European Commissioner for Development, Andris Piebalgs:
Website of the European Commissioner for International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response, Kristalina Georgieva: