Horn of Africa

Somali refugee father and daughter sit in line at Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya
Somali refugee father and daughter sit in line at Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya.
Tosco/Oxfam/AFP

On The Impact Blog

One Year after Famine: the Need for a Continued Comprehensive Response
Nancy Lindborg, Assistant Administrator, USAID Bureau for Democracy, Conflict and Humanitarian Assistance

One Year Later: Reflections on the Humanitarian Response in the Horn
Mark Bartolini, Director, USAID Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance

Looking Back on Famine and A Smarter Response in the Horn
Dina Esposito, Director, USAID Office of Food for Peace

In 2011, the Horn of Africa was reeling from the region’s most severe drought in 60 years. Crops failed, livestock died, and prices in local markets were too high for most people to buy what was needed to feed their families.

And in Somalia, more than 20 years of conflict, combined with severe drought and restrictions on humanitarian access, created a humanitarian catastrophe.  On July 20, 2011, the United Nations declared that famine conditions were present in two areas of southern Somalia, and by mid-September 2011, famine conditions spread to four additional areas.

At the height of the crisis, more than 13 million people—greater than the populations of Los Angeles and New York City combined—were in need of life-saving assistance in Djibouti, Kenya, Ethiopia, and Somalia.

The outpouring of humanitarian assistance from around the world helped provide food, water, shelter, health care services, and other life-saving aid to those in need across the Horn.  Due in large part to the vast humanitarian response, famine was no longer present in Somalia by mid-February 2012.

Progress has been made over the last year and a half, yet more than 8 million people are still in need of humanitarian assistance in the Horn of Africa. The 2011 drought left many families with next to nothing, and they continue to struggle in 2013. Conditions in many areas remain at crisis and emergency levels, and these levels are expected to continue through at least December 2013.  In Somalia, malnutrition is still among the highest in the world, with recent nutrition surveys finding more than 200,000 acutely malnourished children across the country, and fragile gains achieved in recent months could backslide if robust humanitarian assistance is not sustained.

The United States remains the largest bilateral provider of humanitarian assistance to the Horn of Africa, providing more than $1.8 billion to help those in need since 2011.

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Last updated: September 19, 2013

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