WASHINGTON, May 8, 2012 – The World Bank said today that nine million people are currently facing food shortages in the Horn of Africa (down from a high of 13.3 million in September 2011 when the drought was at its peak), and nearly 14 million people in the Sahel region, which mainly includes Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger are at risk of hunger because of drought, limited food, political instability, and periods of conflict.
In an update briefing to its Executive Directors, the Bank said it was working to alleviate the development impact of two simultaneous droughts in the Horn of Africa and the Sahel. It said a $1.8 billion Drought Response Plan for the Horn of Africa is underway to meet immediate food needs while looking at a broad, longer-term approach that combines investments in health and nutrition, with better weather forecasting, early warning systems, drought resilience, and other risk management measures.
To date, $147 million has been disbursed and $944 million has been committed for fast-tracking drought prevention projects and programs. In addition to the above, the regional Horn of Africa Emergency Health and Nutrition project has helped treat over 35,000 malnourished children under age five living in refugee camps, with $30 million in funding from IDA’s Crisis Response Window.
“Our strategy focuses on meeting immediate needs through ongoing development projects in the worst-hit countries and helping lay the foundations for long-term drought resilience.” said Makhtar Diop, World Bank Vice President for the Africa Region. “We are working closely with our countries and partners alike to deliver positive development results that improve poor people’s lives.”
With a changing climate likely to intensify extreme weather events, the World Bank’s Africa teams are committed to help drought-affected countries in both regions to boost economic growth and alleviate people’s suffering.
How the Bank is helping people in the Horn of Africa and Sahel
World Bank assessments show that the drought is having a significant, adverse impact on the region’s economic development. Financial losses for Djibouti, Kenya and Uganda alone could amount to as much as $13.6 billion. The outlook is sobering. Below average rainfall is predicted for the Horn of Africa throughout 2012.
- Ethiopia: A new safety net program is supporting three million transitory, food-insecure people, and work is underway to strengthen social safety nets as well as to increase investments for boosting production and improving rural infrastructure to enable poor people to have better access to food.
- Somalia: A $9 million Grant from Global Fund for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR) is providing 97,000 people with temporary employment through a ‘Cash for Work’ program and supporting the recovery of food production through rehabilitation of productive assets such as land, livestock and water.
“The drought in Horn of Africa and the unfolding events in the Sahel are having an enormous impact on the poor and those made homeless by conflict. Communities are simply unable to find food because it’s either too expensive, or they are forced to live on the run after being forced out of their refugee camps because of violence,” says Jamal Saghir, World Bank Director for Sustainable Development in the Africa Region. “Droughts always affect poor people the most.”
Drought in the Sahel is steadily worsening after less rainfall in 2011.
Large-scale refugee migrations are also worsening the drought’s toll as in the case of Mali where a recent coup resulted in over 320,000 people being displaced. Other examples of the World Bank’s support to drought-hit countries in the Sahel:
- Niger: $15 million in supplemental budget support was provided to the Government to address the fiscal shortfall caused by the food crisis and the Libyan crisis, also four active investment lending operation were retrofitted to provide cash transfer, micro-projects and cash-for-work opportunities to the repatriates.
- Chad: The Agriculture Production Support Project (PAPA) pipeline project is being reviewed to help improve the food security situation through accelerated financing of small-scale infrastructure.
Working in partnership is vital
The World Bank is working closely with the UN system, the European Union, and regional institutions such as the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), Permanent Interstate Committee for Drought Control in the Sahel (CILSS) and Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to foster cooperation across all sectors.
The work is benefiting from cutting-edge satellite surveillance and data-intensive efforts by leading organizations such as National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the new Information Technology for Humanitarian Assistance, Cooperation and Action (ITHACA) program which mobilizes ICT technology to tackle climatic problems.