Government: prevent famine in the Horn of Africa

The government is to provide aid for famine victims in the Horn of Africa. Due to the current drought – caused mainly by El Niño – huge numbers of people, including 50,000 children, are facing starvation. In Somalia alone, food shortages are now affecting over 6 million people. Development minister Lilianne Ploumen said, ‘If emergency aid isn’t provided immediately there will be a humanitarian disaster. We must stop this happening and that means acting now.’ The UN estimates that over 900 million dollars’ worth of aid is needed to prevent ‘devastating famine’ in Somalia alone.

The situation is equally alarming in parts of Ethiopia and Kenya. Eritrea, Djibouti, Sudan and South Sudan are also badly hit. Drought has caused harvests to fail and water supplies have almost run out, greatly endangering  both people and livestock – in spite of efforts by the authorities and aid organisations to make the population more resilient. The Productive Safety Net Programme operating in parts of Ethiopia, for instance, has created food security for eight million people in recent years. In Somalia, by contrast, the situation is extremely serious throughout most of the country, due to the absence of an effective government.

Relief organisations are comparing the current situation to the famine of 2011, which killed over 250,000 people in the Horn of Africa. The Dutch government has responded by earmarking €3.8 million in aid: €3 million for Somalia and €0.8 million for Kenya. ‘This will enable the member organisations of the Dutch Relief Alliance and the Red Cross to provide extra water and food, and to boost the population’s self-reliance. As you can see, the Netherlands and many other countries are making serious efforts to save the many lives that are currently at stake,’ Ms Ploumen said.

On several previous occasions, the government has provided support for countries affected by El Niño. In these latitudes, the ocean has become warmer, causing the trade winds to slacken off. The result has been higher temperatures and less rainfall. To counteract this, the Netherlands is investing in programmes that help people develop long-term resilience to drought. The emphasis is on working with local communities and authorities to promote sustainable water consumption, boost the resilience of farmers and livestock owners, and to increase the capacity of local healthcare workers to tackle malnutrition in the early stages.

For more information about the government’s previous aid initiatives, see:

News item, 16 May 2016

News item, 1 March 2016