Kenya + 3 more

Emergency decision to strengthen the resilience of local populations in Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia to the affects of the drought cycle on human and livestock health.

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Location of operation: HORN OF AFRICA (Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia)
Amount of Decision: EUR 5,000,000
Decision reference number: ECHO/-HF/BUD/2006/01000

Explanatory Memorandum

1 - Rationale, needs and target population.

1.1. - Rationale:

The Horn of Africa has been affected by another failure of the short rains season leading to a severe food and livelihood crisis, due to successive rain failures since 2001. The arid and semi arid lands of Kenya, southern Somalia, Ethiopia and Djibouti are hardest hit by food and water shortages, as well as insufficient grazing pastures for livestock. This current situation is thought to be too much for many already impoverished pastoral communities to bear, leading to a number of reported deaths from malnutrition, and calls for an emergency. The current situation is foreseen to last for the next 6 months, the habitual period of drought. The populations affected are mainly nomadic pastoralist and agro-pastoralist communities who rely on short rains for water and livestock for survival. Even though the region is known for its regular cycles of drought and rain failures, the past few years have seen these cycles become ever more recurrent, frequent, and severe. This is resulting in pastoral communities trying to survive in an increasingly fragile environment. Should these rains fail, then whole communities are faced by water shortages and insufficient pastures, resulting in food insecurity and a livelihood crisis. These consecutive rain failures have also been aggravated over the years by a lack of structural development support from local authorities.

In Djibouti, the government has launched an emergency appeal on 19th January 2006 in order to respond to the severe drought affecting all the country. The Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET - USAID), after the warning issued in December, classified Djibouti in an emergency status on 11th January 2006. OCHA and FAO confirmed the presence of pre-famine indicators in most of pastoral livelihood zones, including distress migration, livestock deaths, concentration in permanent deep water points, increase in supplementary feeding for dairy herds, malnutrition and diarrhoeal diseases, etc.

Successive failures of the main season rains and prolonged droughts in most livestock dependent areas in the Southeast, Northwest and Central pastoral zones have severely eroded pastoral livelihoods. This year, in comparison to 2003, income and food sources derived from livestock products have been reduced by half in most pastoral zones. As a result of all these factors, significant food deficits ranging from 20 percent to 70 percent of minimum food requirements exist in all pastoral livelihood zones through the next recovery period, which is expected in November. Water shortages are critical for both humans and animals, particularly in areas where both depend on water catchments.

In Ethiopia, following a multi agency needs assessment mission in the southern Somali region of Ethiopia, the Ethiopian government's Disaster Preparedness and Prevention Agency (DPPA) dispatched food aid as an immediate first measure in response to the deteriorating situation. This degrading situation was simultaneously relayed by UNOCHA on the 26th December 2005 and by Action Contre la Faim ECHO's partner operating in the region. The Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET - USAID) on 23rd and 28th December 2005 alerted the international community on the pre-famine conditions in the Somali region and classified Ethiopia in an emergency status. The drought situation is currently unfolding throughout most pastoral areas of the Ethiopian Somali Region, the Borena Zone and the southern parts of South Omo Zone (Oromiya Region) where UNOCHA Ethiopia reports a severe shortage of pasture and water and poor physical conditions and deaths of livestock.

In Kenya, on 2nd January 2006, the President Mwai Kibaki, declared a state of national disaster in 8 districts in the North and north-eastern parts of Kenya, following calls by the Government for prolonged assistance since September 2005. In response to the drought in Kenya, the Government has mobilised military resources to provide immediate relief in the form of food aid and water to the most severely hit areas in the North of Kenya. The National Red Cross Society is being supported with a launch of an international appeal (through IFRC) for approx. EUR 11.8 M in support of water, livestock and food aid. In Kenya, there has been little social, developmental or economic support to the affected regions. Pastoral communities and their livestock have been void of any sustainable management. There are now some initiatives that are trying to address some of these structural issues; however these have not yet been fully engaged or established. The situation is as a result still dependent on emergency interventions.

In southern Somalia, the chronic situation has been affected by persistent insecurity and conflict by warring clans for the control of natural resources, business interests and the imposition of authority. This has led to significant amount of internal displacement and impoverishment, which has persistently weakened communities. The lack of access to many areas, due to insecurity, has also limited the impact any previous humanitarian aid assistance. The Food Security Analysis Unit (FSAU- FAO) released on 21st December 2005 a Special Alert on the rapid deteriorating of the food security situation and the imminent widespread humanitarian emergency in Southern Somalia. There is a fear that the current situation, if left unchecked, could lead to repeat of the situation faced in 1993, in which the pastoral communities were affected by a famine.

The present drought is affecting the border region of Kenya, Somalia, Ethiopia and Djibouti. The lack of drought preparedness structures and lethargy over a problem that has persisted for many years may affect the situation harder than it might otherwise have. As a result, a regional drought decision is the most appropriate tool for responding in the shortterm to the needs of such a disaster. This decision will complement the ongoing activities under the recently adopted Decision for Kenya (EUR 2 M); the Somalia Global Plan (EUR 9 M) and the ad hoc decision for Ethiopia (EUR 4.5 M). No humanitarian intervention is presently being implemented in Djibouti. The present decision could be complemented in the future in light of the development of the drought situation, in particular concerning the timely arrival of the next rainy season.