Somalia

Remarks by Humanitarian Coordinator Philippe Lazzarini at the High Level Partnership Forum on Somalia Copenhagen, 20 November 2014

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“The humanitarian situation, response and its linkages with resilience and longer-term solutions”

Your Excellency Minister Bare,
State Secretary for Development Policy Hermann,
Excellencies,
Ladies and Gentlemen

Today, as we look to support the people of Somalia achieve the peaceful and prosperous future they deserve; we unfortunately have to raise the alarm again about the humanitarian situation.
We have cautioned against being too quick to conflate the positive political and security narratives of Somalia with an end to the humanitarian crisis in the country. Over the course of these two days, we have acknowledged and commended the progress made on the political and security front since the establishment of the Federal Government of Somalia in September 2012, despite recent political turmoil and upcoming challenges. These gains can, however, still be reversed if the current humanitarian crisis is not properly acknowledged and addressed. Drought, conflict, displacement, floods and the lack of adequate basic social services continue to undermine the ability of millions of Somalis to feed themselves, and to withstand the impact of disease outbreaks, as well as other natural and manmade hazards.

Many figures have been mentioned already but I would like to flag that there are a number of humanitarian indicators that today are similar to the situation in 2010 ahead of the famine. For the first time since 2011, over 1 million Somalis are unable to meet their basic food requirements. A further 2.1 million people are on the verge of slipping into acute food insecurity, bringing the total number of people in need of humanitarian assistance to 3.2 million. This is against a backdrop with some of the lowest human development indicators in the world.

Against this backdrop and despite continued early warnings and appeals for timely and adequate funding, resources made available for humanitarian programs are dwindling. The humanitarian appeal for 2014 is funded at only 39 per cent, the lowest we have seen since 2008. In absolute terms, we have received US$546 so far in 2014 according to what is reported to the OCHA managed Financial Tracking System. While better than in 2010, the trend has a frightening resemblance with the decline in humanitarian funding that was recorded in the three years ahead of the 2011 famine.

As a result, humanitarian partners are currently unable to provide life-saving and livelihood support at the scale required. We are for the first time since the end of the devastating famine seeing an increase in the number of people in Somalia who struggle to meet their daily food needs.

To keep the international humanitarian budget in Somalia as tight and targeted as possible, we have reviewed the planned activities for 2015. We have identified areas where we realistically can expect programmes of a longer-term nature to pick up the pace in 2015 and start to take the pressure off some of the humanitarian operations. This includes various resilience initiatives and sector specific programmes, for example for health, water and sanitation. As such, in spite of the increase in needs of about 20 per cent compared to 2014, we are reducing the request for 2015 by 7 per cent. In total, we are requesting $862 million for humanitarian programmes in Somalia in 2015, with an expectation that the current crisis is adequately addressed and that other long-term programmes will be able to address some of the drivers of the humanitarian emergency in Somalia.

Excellencies and Colleagues,

As mentioned by Minister Bare, humanitarian access is a major challenge in parts of Somalia and is an aggravating factor, particularly in south and central Somalia, not least in newly recovered areas. The difficult access to newly recovered areas in South and Central Somalia is a key concern, and while some supplies have been brought in by humanitarian air cargo flight, we urgently need to secure the major supply routes to allow for unhindered movement of commodities and people.

Meanwhile, we continue to partner with local organizations to deliver assistance to areas where UN and international NGOs cannot operate directly. This does not go without risk, but we have stepped up our monitoring and risk management systems and enhanced measures have been instituted, such as follow up by phone with beneficiaries, and more systematic vetting of partner organizations. As a result, our capacity to detect misuse or diversion of aid has increased and we continue to take legal steps to recover embezzled funds.

In 2014, humanitarian partners have also stepped up coordination with the Government, particularly the Ministry of Interior and Federalism, as well as with the Ministerial Emergency Response Committee. This has already proved useful when the Emergency Response Committee actively has organized extensive distributions of food assistance received from bilateral partners, preventing duplication and ensuring joint identification of priority areas. We also seek to work closely with the Federal Government of Somalia, regional states, and local authorities to improve the operating environment, particularly with regard to easing bureaucratic impediments. The country needs clear regulatory frameworks which are applied uniformly across the regions.

Excellencies and Colleagues,

As we enter the second year after the signing of the Somali New Deal Compact, with the expectation that this will be the year of delivery, there is scope for strengthening the strategic and operational linkages between humanitarian and development programmes. During my visits to sites for internally displaced and drought and flood affected areas, I have seen first-hand the very real and positive impact it can have when we with flexible funding are able to implement coordinated and integrated life-saving and resilience programming. Initiatives such as cash or food for work, and durable solutions for the displaced, allow us to address immediate life-saving needs, while increasing communities’ agricultural and livestock production and improving their access to markets.

The humanitarian programmes will continue to first and foremost be based on needs and prioritize life-saving activities. But huge gains can be made by better integrating humanitarian and development activities. Humanitarian work lays the ground for development by providing safety-nets to communities. Likewise, long-term development programmes address the underlying causes of vulnerabilities, and in doing so, avert or reduce the impact and frequency of humanitarian emergencies.

I have been asked many times, what do we mean by resilience? Where we used to talk about a sequential continuum between humanitarian and development programming, we now work to ensure that humanitarian, resilience and development efforts all take off jointly and address short, medium and longer-term priorities at the same time.

To cement the synergy between life-saving programmes and longer-term development initiatives that address the underlying causes of vulnerability, humanitarian organizations will continue to focus on strengthening community-level resilience while state-building efforts aim at building the resilience of national institutions and socio-economic infrastructure. The two existing frameworks, i.e., the Humanitarian Response Plan and the New Deal Compact cover both humanitarian and longer term programming. However, there is a need for strengthened coordination between the two, including through more systematic information sharing between humanitarian and development partners.

I propose to explore the possibility of finding a space within the Somali Development Reconstruction Facility architecture where resilience and specific sectoral discussions can take place.
I recognize that globally we are facing an unprecedented number of large-scale emergencies, and resources are limited. In comparison with many of these places, Somalia is a country coming together. After declaring the 2011 famine, we said “never again”. Let us reaffirm our words through our deeds and show that we have learned the lessons of the famine and respond in time.
We cannot afford complacency.

THANK YOU

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit https://www.unocha.org/.