Reduce dependence on food aid in Horn of Africa, says IFRC report

Published: 14 October 2011

14 October 2011, Nairobi — Future drought emergencies can be prevented through more effective community investment, argues the IFRC in a report released today. Drought in the Horn of Africa – preventing the next disaster presents evidence from projects in Kenya where pastoralist communities that been gripped by drought are now selling their surplus at market.

With World Food Day approaching on October 16, and over thirteen million people across Somalia, Kenya, Ethiopia, Tanzania and Djibouti suffering the effects of a sustained drought, the IFRC proposes solutions to specifically support pastoralists, one of the most affected groups.

“Red Cross and Red Crescent national societies have been responding for decades to drought emergencies and this year is no exception,” said Alexander Matheou, IFRC regional representative. Many lives have been saved through Red Cross Red Crescent interventions in supplying water and food to communities with none and by providing medical assistance to the thousands of children who have rapidly become malnourished.

“But this type of response will not break the cycle of drought. It won’t prevent a similar emergency hitting us again in a few years time,” Matheou continued. “By making a long term commitment to ensuring communities become more resilient, we can stop a natural hazard becoming a human catastrophe.”
 
The IFRC urges that much of the funding being sent to the Horn of Africa now should be invested in long term solutions that have a huge payback. In one example the report cites a community in North East Kenya where a $235,000 investment created 33 farms and provided long term food security for almost 10,000 people. The same money spent on food aid would have given 1,250 people a partial food ration for six months and left them still at risk when it ended.

“In two or three years there’ll be another drought. Again 3 or 4 million Kenyans could suffer. Again we will mobilize to save lives,” said Abbas Gullet Secretary General, Kenya Red Cross. “But Kenya can and should be feeding itself. The disaster zone you see today could be a Kenyan bread basket. Enough of food aid. What we want is food security.”

Read the full report at www.ifrc.org

For more information, or to set up interviews, please contact:
In Nairobi:
• Nancy Okwengu, communications officer, IFRC East Africa
Mobile : +254 733 632 946 – E-mail : nancy.okwengu@ifrc.org
• Fredrick Gori, communications manager, Kenya Red Cross
Mobile: +254 722 29 31 46 -  E-mail: gori.fredrick@kenyaredcross.org

In Johannesburg:
• Faye Callaghan, communications manager, IFRC Africa
Mobile: +27 71 895 2774   – E-mail: faye.callaghan@ifrc.org

In Geneva:
• Jessica Sallabank,  Senior Media Officer, IFRC Geneva
 Mobile: +41 799481148  E-mail: jessica.sallabank@ifrc.org

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