AfDB awards US$1 million emergency relief assistance for drought victims in Somalia

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The African Development Bank Group (AfDB) has awarded US $1 million emergency relief assistance to Somalia where over one million people affected by drought and famine are in dire need of humanitarian assistance.

The Emergency Humanitarian Relief Assistance to Victims of Drought in the country approved by the AfDB Board of Directors on Monday, February 9, 2015 will support the efforts being made by the Federal Government of Somalia in conjunction with the United Nations to provide urgent food aid distributions and food deliveries to drought-affected families in several parts of the country.

The grant has been mobilised from the Bank’s Special Relief Fund (SRF) and will be used to purchase food items, finance costs of transportation and distribution of food rations to the beneficiaries as well as administrative charges.

The assistance will be channeled through targeted food distribution to households affected by the drought, mainly vulnerable groups (like widows, orphans, female- and elderly-headed households) without alternative means of survival. Due to the imminent shortfalls, local and regional purchases, which have the added benefit of supporting the national and regional agricultural economies, will be made.

The World Food Programme (WFP), which has a well-established network in the country for food relief assistance and a strong procurement system and infrastructure in place that could be readily used to quickly procure goods and services needed, has been selected to implement the Bank’s relief operation. WFP will also sensitize host communities about the temporary nature of the emergency support in order to avoid creating wrong expectations and dependencies.

According to United Nations statistics, some 9 to 10 million people in the Horn of Africa are in need of humanitarian assistance as a result of a severe drought, whose effects have been worsened by poor rains, conflict, trade disruptions and reduced humanitarian assistance in Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia and Djibouti. Continued deterioration as a result of severe droughts in 2010 and 2011, coupled with poor humanitarian access and inadequate humanitarian assistance, culminated in the declaration of famine in southern Somalia in 2011, with more than 250,000 people, mainly women and children dying from hunger and decease.

A recent food security analysis led by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) indicates that over 1 million people need urgent humanitarian assistance in Somalia, a 20% increase in six months. And a further 2 million people face significant food security stress.

Humanitarian supplies, mainly food stocks from donor countries have been delivered to affected areas such as Gedo and Bay Regions; Middle Shabelle and Hiraan; Warsheikh and Bulo Burto by the government, with logistical support from the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM).

The humanitarian request from the Federal Government of Somalia fulfills three criteria required to qualify for Bank Group assistance: (i) the emergency situation is of a scale, which is clearly beyond the capacity of the Somali Government to handle alone; (ii) the proposed activities can be carried out expeditiously and effectively within the required time frame; and (iii) the emergency relief assistance aims at restoring a degree of normalcy in both the social and economic life of the affected populations as quickly as possible.

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