The world's response to hunger crisis in East Africa is inadequate, say aid workers

The world's response to hunger crisis in East Africa is inadequate, say aid workers
07 December 2022
Historic drought, widespread food insecurity and conflict have led to dire conditions and a crisis of extreme hunger in East Africa. 

"In the Horn of Africa, in total, the numbers have been escalating with close to 15 million children affected at this point, and that's over 30 million people."

Despite the severity of the crisis, humanitarian workers say the international response has been gravely inadequate.

Waiting on a Declaration

Though the situation in East Africa is dire, the United Nations has not made an official declaration of famine in the region.

"I think too many donors are waiting for a famine declaration, before they take action," David Miliband, president and CEO of the International Rescue Committee, said in a November press briefing.

In order for the United Nations to make an official declaration of famine, conditions on the ground must meet specific criteria set by the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC).

"The US government has really done something remarkable, which is it's used the impulse of the Ukraine crisis to give more money to East Africa," Miliband said. "[But the US is] the only donor that's done so. Elsewhere, there's a great sucking sound of money coming out of East Africa."

Dagash-Kamara has been raising this issues for months. Back in June, she spoke at a UN press conference marking World Food Safety Day, warning then that "if the world does not widen its gaze from the war in Ukraine, and act immediately, an explosion of child deaths is about to happen in the Horn of Africa."

However, Dagash-Kamara told NPR that despite the weak response from international donors, there has been a small improvement in the region in recent months, thanks to work of UNICEF and other aid organizations.

"We know that the crisis continues to outpace our ability to respond. It is dire, it is like nothing we've seen before," she said. "But our presence has made a difference. The communities and the local partners that are working are making a difference and they're saving children every day."

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