World Bank Boosts Assistance to Battle Drought, Increase Food Security in Horn of Africa

September 24, 2011

The Bank’s $1.88 billion to address short-term needs for millions and fund long-term recovery  

WASHINGTON, September 24, 2011 –The World Bank today increased to $1.88 billion from more than $500 million its support to countries in the Horn of Africa that are facing one of the worst droughts in more than half a century, causing mounting malnutrition, food insecurity, and displacement of people.


The announcement comes as the development community is gathering under the auspices of the United Nations in an attempt to step up support for affected countries.


“The World Bank will support the common call for action led by the U.N. humanitarian agencies, with stalwart support by the U.K., Australia, the European Commission, the United States, and others. In addition, to addressing today’s disaster, our role is to help build resilience for tomorrow. A humanitarian crisis need not and should not become a perpetual crisis,” said World Bank Group President Robert B. Zoellick.


More than 13 million people across the sub-region are now in need of immediate humanitarian assistance. U.N. estimates show that the financial need for immediate, short-term drought relief assistance is $2.4 billion. While international appeals have resulted in $1.4 billion in pledges, there is still a gap of $1 billion.


The revised World Bank allocation represents nearly four times the more than $500 million it initially announced in July. The allocation is based on a preliminary needs assessments conducted by Bank disaster experts in Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somali Refugee camps and Uganda.


The resources will be allocated over a three-phase response period, which includes: rapid response ($288 million) in fiscal year 2012 (ends June 30), economic recovery ($384 million) through fiscal year 2014, and drought resilience ($1.2 billion) in the long-term. The overall thrust of the Bank’s response seeks to link short-term crisis mitigation with long-term development objectives both at country and regional levels.


Today’s announcement comes a week after the World Bank Board of Executive Directors approved $30 million fast-disbursing funds through UNHCR to respond to the health, nutrition, and sanitation needs of the Somali refugee population in Kenya and Ethiopia.


The Bank’s response plan builds on the institution’s strategy for Africa, which calls for reducing vulnerability and building resilience to natural disasters and climate change by leveraging partnerships, knowledge and financing.


“Working with a vast array of partners and complementing their efforts, our most urgent priority is to save lives, restore incomes and bring back the productive capacity of families and businesses,” said Obiageli Ezekwesili, World Bank Vice President for Africa. “We are confident that this response package will help prevent an unraveling of the gains made so far, and position affected countries on a path to sustainable living.”


The Horn of Africa faces recurring droughts, with climate change making them more intense. When combined with population increase and a generalized breakdown of peace and stability as in Somalia, these conditions are expected to lead to heightened risks for conflict over access to water, land and other resources. The crisis is further compounded by rising food prices around the world, which now stand at 26 percent higher than a year ago.


Across Africa, the World Bank has increased investments in agriculture to an average of $1 billion a year since 2008. Under the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Program, the Bank is working with the African Union to boost yearly public investment in agriculture to 10 percent of the national budget or more in participating countries.

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