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East Africa food crisis appeal 2011

Title East Africa food   crisis appeal 2011
Date released (year) 2011
Production company Christian Aid
Length 1.56 mins
Location East Africa: Kenya
Keywords/tags Drought, food crisis, climate,   famine, aid, poverty
Link to film
Synopsis As the drought intensifies in north   eastern and eastern Kenya, Christian Aid partner CCSMKE provides much need   relief, including transporting water to villages experiencing the worst of   the drought conditions.


Reviews/discussion From the Institute of Development Studies:

The East African food   crisis: beyond drought and food aid

11 July 2011


Millions   of East Africans are once again threatened by famine. The last major famine   in the region occurred in Ethiopia, not in 1984 when an estimated 590,000   people died, but in the country’s Somali Region in 2000 when between 70,000   and 120,000 lives were lost.

Just over a decade later, the humanitarian response has   started too late, as it did in 1983 and 1999, and many preventable deaths   have already been reported. What are the real causes of this crisis – beyond   drought – and what are the most appropriate responses – beyond food aid?

Drought,   or vulnerability to drought?

Drought-triggered food crises are regular events in   arid and semi-arid areas of the Horn of Africa. The famine of 2000 in   Ethiopia followed a sequence of droughts that started in 1997. In northern   Kenya, a complete failure of the short rains in 2005 caused 30-40 per cent   livestock losses and distress migration of pastoralists, 3.5 million of whom   needed emergency assistance. Another drought followed in 2008/9, and the   current crisis was precipitated by many districts recording the driest rainy   season in 60 years.

But drought doesn’t cause famine: vulnerability to   drought causes famine. The causes of vulnerability in the Horn are complex,   but include (1) climate change (not lower rainfall, but more erratic   rainfall); (2) policy failure (not least a shameful neglect of basic   service provision for pastoralist communities); and (3) conflict   (most visibly in Somalia, also low-level violence in southern Ethiopia and   northern Kenya). Two common factors across all affected countries are   persistent droughts and a persistent failure to support the efforts of local   people to adapt to their increasingly marginal environments.

One   crisis, many responses

The first response must be compassion   – humanitarian relief needs to be fully supported at every level, from   individual donations to institutional advocacy. For many years, people in   northern Kenya’s arid and semi-arid districts have received food aid for   several months each year. More ambitious social protection interventions,   like the Hunger Safety Net Programme (HSNP) in northern Kenya and the   Productive Safety Net Programme (PSNP) in Ethiopia, deliver regular cash transfers to 300,000 Kenyans and   over 8 million Ethiopians, with the aims of boosting consumption, protecting   household assets and promoting investment in livelihoods. The Centre for   Social Protection, based at IDS, is monitoring and evaluating the impacts of   HSNP and PSNP. Significant positive gains have been recorded in household   food security and other indicators of wellbeing.

In Somalia, prolonged civil conflict and insecurity and   an absence of government means that these forms of support are virtually   absent. However, the inability of conventional social protection to build   resilience against severe shocks has been dramatically exposed by the ongoing   emergency. Because the underlying causes of vulnerability in the Horn were   never systematically addressed, the crisis never really went away.

Second, better analysis is needed, not just to sharpen responses   to the current crisis but to reduce the likelihood of similar crises in   future. (1)   What caused the crisis?Drought was certainly the trigger, but understanding   causes requires analysing livelihoods, policy processes (in agriculture,   pastoralism, social protection) and national, regional and global politics. (2) How   severe is the crisis? How many people need immediate relief? How   badly affected are they? What assistance will they need to rebuild their   livelihoods once food aid stops? (3) Why was the response late?Did early warning   systems fail to sound the alarm? Or did governments and donor agencies fail   to respond, and if so, why?

Third, more effective risk management   mechanisms are needed. These could include: (1) making social protection   interventions more flexible, by scaling up the HSNP and PSNP in difficult   years, or (2) offering low-paid work on demand, along the lines of India’s   Employment Guarantee Scheme, or (3) subsidising weather-indexed crop and   livestock insurance schemes (this is being piloted in Kenya). Recent thinking   on ‘adaptive social protection’, which links social protection, climate   change adaptation and disaster risk management, shows how an integrated   approach can enhance resilience to shocks and stresses.

Finally, the most sustainable solution is to build more   resilient   livelihoods. This includes conflict resolution mechanisms and   lifting restrictions on mobility and cross-border trade. It also implies   supporting alternative livelihoods and exits from pastoralism for those who   choose this (but not forced sedentarisation). Governments need to invest   seriously in education, especially for girls, to empower the next generation   with the skills they need to pursue less climate-sensitive livelihood   options.

Act now,   plan for tomorrow

The humanitarian imperative to minimise avoidable   suffering demands that we act now. But equally important is to take steps to   minimise avoidable suffering in the future. Only by understanding what went   wrong this time can the links from early warning to response be strengthened,   effective risk management mechanisms installed and climate-sensitive   livelihoods made more resilient. Ultimately, this requires political   commitment at the highest levels. In the meantime, as individuals we must do   what we can. Please donate.

By Stephen Devereux ,  IDS Fellow.


See related discussions at:

Links to other resources For critical discussion of FOOD   AID:

Christian Aid:

Save the Children:

The Guardian News:  


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