Deputy Administrator Isobel Coleman at the High-level Roundtable on the Horn of Africa Drought, Co-Hosted by the European Union and United Nations

Speeches Shim

Tuesday, April 26, 2022


DEPUTY ADMINISTRATOR COLEMAN: Thank you, Commissioner Lenarčič and Undersecretary Griffiths for convening this important discussion today, and for the compelling interventions of our honorable colleagues from Somalia, Kenya and Ethiopia.

As we’ve heard, the harsh reality facing people across the Horn of Africa is that the climate crisis, conflict-driven instability, and a global health crisis are all coming to a head, threatening the lives of people already in need of humanitarian assistance.

Drought is not unusual in East Africa. What is unusual is the severity of this drought, combined with the compounding factors that have disrupted global food and fuel markets; and the stretching of humanitarian resources to address an increasing number of conflicts worldwide.

Already, over 15 million people are in need of immediate food assistance. Nearly 6 million children are expected to be acutely malnourished, and over 900,000 people have been displaced in the desperate search for food, water, and pasture.

Projections of the number of people who will require emergency food assistance by the end of this year indicate a 70 percent increase compared to previous severe droughts.

That’s why earlier this month, the United States, through USAID, provided nearly $114 million in additional humanitarian aid to meet the needs of people in Ethiopia, Kenya, and Somalia.

The research is abundantly clear: Donors spend significantly more when we wait until famine begins to ripple through a country or region, rather than investing proactively.

A 2018 study commissioned by USAID demonstrated that investing early to avert humanitarian crises in the Horn of Africa could reduce the cost to international donors by 30 percent, while also protecting billions of dollars of income and assets for the communities impacted by droughts.

It was early intervention and a scale-up of humanitarian assistance amid the 2016 and 2017 droughts that helped to avert a famine and save lives.

We must respond today with the same urgency, which is why I am pleased to announce that the United States is committing an additional $200 million in humanitarian assistance for Ethiopia, Kenya, and Somalia, bringing our total contribution to more than $360 million since October.

USAID is also committed to working with countries in the region to boost climate adaptation so that communities are better able to anticipate and prepare for future climate shocks and protect development gains.

We are grateful for the many donors and partners who stand with us in these efforts.

Still, the frequency and severity of climate shocks around the world show no signs of slowing, even as the Russian Federation’s brutal invasion of Ukraine further exacerbates global food insecurity.

We are calling on all donors—governments, foundations, and private sector actors—to help fill the gaps in funding and help save lives now, before it becomes even more costly.

Thank you.

Last updated: September 02, 2022

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