AfDB Calls for Concrete Action to Mitigate Famine in Horn of Africa

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The President of the African Development Bank (AfDB) Group, Donald Kaberuka, has called for concrete action to mitigate the dire impacts of the drought and famine in the horn of Africa.  

Addressing participants at a three-day triennial congress of the Society for International Development (SID), which opened on Friday, 29 July in Washington D.C., Mr. Kaberuka said that the tragedy, triggered by the worst drought in 60 years, has been exasperated by a collective failure to end the civil war in Somalia.

Some 10 million people are in need of food aid, two million children are suffering from malnutrition while half a million are in danger of starvation.

“It is our failure to deal with the so called "slow moving emergencies" of which the recurring drought in the Horn is one. After all, this was not a Tsunami-which took us by surprise,” he said.

Mr. Kaberuka said that while nature can be blamed for much of what is happening, the situation had snowballed to an unacceptable tragedy due to human error resulting from acts of omission and commission.

Citing Nobel prize-winning economist, Amartya Sen, the AfDB President explained that famines were a reflection of policy deficits, adding that in this case, the management of the Somali crisis and the absence of long-term planning vis-a-vis the country’s delicate ecosystem were largely to blame.

“We all share in the blame, especially those of us in African leadership positions. I am sure this is not the last time we will experience this type of drought in the region.” he noted.

For now the priority must be to save lives, but surely the most important thing is to collectively say "drought there may be but famine there will not be", Mr. Kaberuka concluded.

The congress on the theme, “Our Common Challenge: A World Moving toward a Sustainable Future”, has attracted over 1,000 development practitioners from around the world. Two full-day sessions, including keynote speeches, panel debates, and small-group discussions, will cover critical African and global development issues.

Established 50 years ago, SID is an international association of development professionals committed to inclusive, fair, and sustainable economic and social development agenda. SID’s Washington D.C. Chapter hosts the Congress. SID’s mission is to advance equitable development by bringing diverse constituencies together to debate critical ideas, policies, and practices that will shape our global future.