On the Brink: As famine looms, world leaders must pay up and deliver political solutions to save lives
As famine takes hold in South Sudan and threatens to spread to northeastern Nigeria, Somalia, and Yemen, world leaders must immediately step up to fully fund the United Nations’ appeal for $6.3 billion. Of this amount, $4.9 billion is urgently needed by July for critical assistance, including health, food, nutrition, and water. If lives are to be saved, humanitarian agencies must be able to rapidly scale up and access people in need. World leaders must not walk away from key meetings, such as the Group of Seven Taormina Summit in Italy and the Group of Twenty Hamburg Summit in Germany, without taking action to increase funding, improve access, resolve conflict and insecurity, and ensure that emergency relief is coupled with long-term approaches to building resilience in affected countries.
As famine takes hold in South Sudan and looms in northeast Nigeria, Somalia, and Yemen, the international aid response so far has been inadequate to address the dire needs. Without urgent action, the crisis will worsen. The United Nations has issued an appeal for $6.3 billion to address the crisis,1 of which $4.9 billion is needed by July.2 To avert catastrophe, international donors must immediately step up to fully fund this appeal.
Oxfam is working with local partners across the affected countries to deliver food and provide families with cash to buy what they need from local markets. We are striving to ensure people have clean water for drinking, cooking, washing, and sanitation to fight waterborne diseases such as cholera. If lives are to be saved, Oxfam and other humanitarian agencies need much more funding to rapidly scale up their provision of immediate livelihood assistance and to deploy staff to provide increased protection services.
World leaders have a specific responsibility to address this crisis and to uphold their own commitments to address hunger and malnutrition. At their 2015 summit at Schloss Elmau, Germany, for example, the members of the Group of Seven (G7) committed to “lift 500 million people in developing countries out of hunger and malnutrition by 2030.”3 Furthermore, all states have endorsed the Sustainable Development Goals, which commit to end hunger and ensure access for all people to safe, nutritious, and sufficient food all year round by 2030.
The international community must uphold these commitments by immediately responding to humanitarian needs in the four countries, resolving the conflicts that have led to this crisis, and, in the long term, scaling up financial commitments to smallholder agriculture to build resilience and improve food security in countries across the globe.
Two upcoming summits offer opportunities for timely action to prevent famine. At the G7 summit on May 26–27 in Taormina, Italy, and the Group of Twenty (G20) summit on July 7–9 in Hamburg, Germany, world leaders must take steps to ensure that people have access to aid and to provide substantial new funding commitments to meet the United Nations appeal, followed by rapid disbursal of their fair share of the required amount across all four countries.