Secretary Clinton appeared at the International Food Policy Research Institute this morning to address the ongoing famine and refugee crisis in the Horn of Africa, calling it “the most severe humanitarian emergency in the world today.” The Secretary discussed the tragedy unfolding in Somalia, Kenya, and Ethiopia, emphasizing the need for a rapid response and applauding relief efforts from the US, UN, and NGO communities.
Her remarks linked food emergencies to food security. As the world gradually awakens to the famine putting over 12 million people at risk of starvation, our long-term efforts will be crucial to the Horn’s future. Secretary Clinton highlighted the need for a multi-faceted response, helping the region through this crisis while preventing such crises from happening again. “Food security is the key.”
Though drought triggered the current emergency, Secretary Clinton made clear that the cycle of food shortages is not an act of God but a complex—and solvable—problem. She pointed to the level of vulnerability in Somalia versus that in Ethiopia and Kenya, two Feed the Future partner countries who “prove that progress is possible.” The Ethiopian and Kenyan governments, with help from international donors, have enabled their populations to adapt to shortages by investing in productive safety nets and market chains. Both nations have promised to commit 10% of their budget to agriculture—a target Ethiopia has already surpassed—and are incorporating gender and environmental analysis to ensure sustainability.
International commitments to long-term food security have been tempered by competing concerns. Secretary Clinton acknowledged our difficult budget circumstances, but she called for nations to maintain their support for food security, saying “we have to dedicate ourselves to doing development differently.” She announced another $17 million in U.S. funding for the region, on top of an additional $105 million announced by President Obama yesterday. The response, however, must go beyond immediate assistance and build sustainable food systems: Secretary Clinton looked to the private sector and individuals for investments that will avoid such disasters in the future.
Individuals wishing to support the relief efforts can visit InterAction’s list of NGOs active in the Horn of Africa or text AID to 27722 to donate $10 to the World Food Program USA.