Giving Compass' Take:
- Humanitarian funding to address the drought and food shortages in Somalia and Ethiopia has fallen short and does not help prepare countries for future climate disasters.
- How can international donors change their funding practices to be adaptive and proactive?
- Learn more about climate change and migration.
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Over the past three years, an extreme drought has pushed the Horn of Africa to the brink of famine, causing one of the worst humanitarian crises in modern history. The dry spell forced more than 2.6 million people in Somalia, Ethiopia, and Kenya to leave their homes last year, and it killed more than 43,000 people in Somalia alone.
A recent study from the meteorological organization World Weather Attribution found that climate change made the drought 100 times more likely. The region has always swung between wet and dry periods, but high temperatures have increased what scientists call “evaporative demand” over the desert, causing moisture to disappear faster than ever and making every drought more severe as a result. The current rain pattern “would not have led to drought at all” in a preindustrial world, the researchers found.
Even though climate change made the disaster far easier to predict, humanitarian aid donors did not heed its warnings. As the drought unfolded, wealthy countries and aid organizations rushed to deliver supplies. The United States Agency for International Development, or USAID, shipped more than $1 billion worth of food last year, and the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization, or FAO, mobilized around $138 million of cash and food. The UN will hold a “pledging conference” in New York next week, calling on the international community to send billions more in assistance. But this aid started to flow only after food insecurity in the region had already peaked, and practically none of it will make the region more resilient to future climate shocks.
The international community’s response to the food shortage has been in keeping with past relief efforts in the region. Weather forecasters predicted a previous dry spell in 2011, but money arrived too late to prevent death and displacement. Though the response was faster during another drought in 2016, international donors failed to provide money for infrastructure development and climate adaptation, which helped ensure that the region remained vulnerable to the present drought.
Read the full article about climate-fueled drought in Somalia by Jake Bittle at Grist.