Monday, October 24, 2011

The World Bank Increases Short and Long-Term Aid to the Horn of Africa to Fight Drought and Famine

Reuters: UPDATE 2-World Bank Boosts Horn of Africa Aid to $1.88bln
WSJ: World Bank Boosts Aid to Horn of Africa
All Africa: UN Increases Funding for Drought-Hit Africa
Al-Jazeera: Africa's Drought: Is Weather or War to Blame?

The World Bank is increasing funding from $500 million to $1.88 billion to help the more than thirteen million people suffering from the worst drought to hit the Horn of Africa in fifty years. United Nations (UN) officials have called the situation the worst current humanitarian crisis in the world. Most of the aid will go to individuals in Somalia, Kenya, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Djibouti, and Uganda. The stated goal of the aid is to alleviate current pain while putting the region on a path towards sustainable living.

The main reasons for the severe famine are twofold: weather and war. Regarding weather, the region has had two consecutive growing seasons without any rain, which has lead to a devastating decrease in crop production and the death of livestock. In addition to the severe weather, the region is subject to violent militant groups that often destroy crops or do not allow international food aid into the parts of some countries, exasperating the problem.

The World Bank will begin distributing the $1.88 billion by handing out $288 million in 2012 and $384 million in 2013-14 based on needs assessments completed by World Bank experts. The remaining $1.2 billion will be distributed after 2014 to bolster the region’s future drought resistance. The long-term aid will be used to create a system to communicate the early warning signs of future droughts to those who may be affected. The aid will also provide additional support to local farmers with the aim of increasing the geographic diversity of crops and education about new farming techniques that are more resistant to drought. The long-term aid will also help countries increase their emergency food reserves.

While the World Bank’s aid will help, the UN has stated that the countries need an additional $700 million for the last three months of the current year alone. The UN estimates that the countries will need $2.4 billion to meet the needs of the 13 million people the drought is affecting. International donations have totaled $1.4 billion, which leaves a $1 billion remaining funding gap.

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