NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 22 – International aid agency Oxfam has strongly indicted the international community saying governments are guilty of neglect as the aid effort to avert catastrophe in the horn of Africa limps along due to $800 million shortfall.
In a statement, Oxfam said that both international donors and regional governments needed to urgently step up their response as the gravity of the crisis is increasing daily.
“The overall international donor response to the crisis has been slow and inadequate and is well below what would normally be expected at this point in a crisis. With two months of the dry season to go, the consequences of this under funding will only become more desperate.”
“There is no time to waste if we are to avoid massive loss of life. We must not stand by and watch this tragedy unfold before our eyes. The world has been slow to recognise the severity of this crisis, but there is no longer any excuse for inaction,” read a statement from Fran Equiza, Oxfam’s Regional Director.
According to the statement, Oxfam said that the UK has so far led the way by recently pledging new aid. It has further called on other traditionally big donors, such as the US, to fill the funding black hole.
Mr Equiza also insisted that: “Much of the European response has been surprisingly slow, with donors such as Italy and Denmark so far not providing anything new. The French have been strong on words, calling for an Extraordinary G20 meeting on the issue, but have so far failed to back it up with any additional money.”
Oxfam has also called for a radical shake-up of the international aid system, to break the cycle that leaves the poorest people limping from one crisis to the next.
Severe drought – the driest year in six decades in some parts of the horn of Africa – has undoubtedly led to the huge scale of the disaster, however this crisis has been caused by people and policies as much as nature.
“A crisis of this magnitude must not be allowed to happen again. It is in no way inevitable and solutions do exist. The worst affected areas have endured decades of marginalisation and economic under-development,” the statement emphasised.
A total of almost 12 million affected so far: 4.5 million in Ethiopia, 3.5 million in Kenya, 2.85 million in Somalia, and 600,000 in Uganda.
A further 7.5 million people in Ethiopia are receiving targeted food or cash-based assistance through the government run Productive Safety Net Programme.
Overall food security conditions across pastoral and marginal agricultural areas will likely deteriorate further in the coming three to four months, with late and below-average summer harvests expected.