Horn Of Africa: 'Drought Need Not Become Famine,' Says UN

The UN focused its attention to the humanitarian crisis in the Horn of Africa on Saturday, with Secretary General  Ban Ki-moon warning that the “crisis grows deeper by the day”. Looking for long-term solutions at a mini-summit, he cited programs in Ethiopia and Kenya which showed how "drought need not become famine"

NEW YORK -- UN  Secretary General  Ban Ki-moon warned on Saturday that the crisis in the Horn of Africa "grows deeper by the day” and stressed the need for long-term solutions to make sure that humanitarian crises like the one now affecting some 13 million hungry people will not happen again.

Speaking at a mini UN summit on the Horn of Africa crisis, the Secretary General noted that successful programs in Ethiopia and Kenya have helped ensure that, despite the worst drought in six decades, there is no famine in those countries.

“This is a profound achievement that can be replicated some day in Somalia. We will see drought again – with increasing frequency. But drought need not become famine,” he said.

Safety nets

WFP Executive Director Josette Sheeran added:  “There are 4.5 million people in the Horn of Africa who have for decades been the most vulnerable people, in the most vulnerable areas, and who now are under productive safety nets, with the government of Ethiopia and Kenya and northern Uganda. They have not needed the emergency aid. They have not been displaced. Those systems have been able to scale up.“ Read Josette Sheeran's remarks

Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga was among the African leaders who warned of the impact of climate change on the continent.

"The current drought and famine is partly the consequence of unmitigated impacts of climate change in our midst," said Odinga. "Adaption to climate change, therefore, needs to be a central theme in all future strategies and actions."

Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Valerie Amos called for greater focus on hunger prevention.“This famine, the drought across the Horn of Africa, has wrecked communities – it is having a major impact on the economic growth and the sustainability of countries in the Horn,” she said.