Humanitarian Requirements Document for the Horn of Africa Drought 2011

28 July 2011

The Horn of Africa is experiencing the most severe food crisis in the world today.  Over 12 million people in Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia are severely affected and in urgent need of humanitarian aid, and there is no likelihood of this situation improving until 2012.  This figure of affected people is a 38% increase since the figure recorded in March 2011.  The situation is continuing to deteriorate, with famine in the lower Shabelle and Bakool regions of southern Somalia officially declared by the UN on 20 July.   Eight other regions of southern Somalia are at risk of famine in the coming 1-2 months unless aid delivery increases in proportion to needs.  While the famine declaration pertains to Somalia only, large parts of Ethiopia, Kenya and Djibouti are also suffering from severe food insecurity as a result of drought and high food prices, and are seeing significant inflows of refugees fleeing the drought in Somalia. 

The trigger for this massive movement of people from and within Somalia (tens of thousands of people have been displaced to Mogadishu in search of help) is directly attributable to the drought, but also to the ongoing conflict in southern Somalia which has restricted access for humanitarian agencies.  Somalia, in particular south-central Somalia, presents an array of security challenges, including but not limited to protracted armed conflict, civil unrest, crime, extremism and piracy.  The situation is compounded by political uncertainty, isolation and extreme under-development.  Unable to receive assistance in the most affected areas, people are forced to walk long distances under difficult conditions.  Already in a very bad physical state when they begin their journeys, people – particularly women and children – are arriving in camps in Djibouti, Kenya and Ethiopia in appalling health condition and overwhelming the already-stretched response capacity and resources on the ground.
Across the region, the situation is severe.  Drought conditions in Kenya's northern and north-eastern districts, where most refugees are arriving, have worsened further after the inadequate performance of the March-June long rains.  Food insecurity is expected to reach crisis levels in August and September in these areas.  In Ethiopia, the prolonged La Niña conditions have affected two consecutive rainy seasons, causing rapidly deteriorating food security in the drought-affected lowlands of southern and south-eastern Ethiopia, and in parts of the central and southern highlands that depend on short-cycle crops cultivated during the February-to-May rainy season.  In Djibouti, the current drought far exceeds normal variation, and has forced many pastoral and rural households to migrate.  Increased rural-urban migration has led to a concentration of 70.6% of the population in urban areas, including 58% in the capital city.  Urban food insecurity is rising due to high levels of unemployment and an increase of food prices, currently at 68% over the five-year average, aggravated by deteriorating terms of trade.  The country’s resistance to international food price fluctuations is weak, as 90% of food is imported. 

The current food security emergency across the region is expected to persist at least for the coming three to four months.  The people in need of urgent humanitarian aid could increase by as much as 25% during this period.  The areas of highest concern for the coming six months have been identified as southern and central Somalia; the north, south and south-east of Ethiopia; north-eastern and south-eastern Kenya; and the refugee camps in Djibouti, Kenya and Ethiopia.  Towards the end of 2011, food security levels in the worst-affected areas of Ethiopia and Kenya are expected to ease from "emergency" to "crisis" levels.  However, the crisis in southern Somalia is expected to continue to worsen through 2011, with all areas of the south slipping into famine.  This deterioration is likely given the very high levels of both severe acute malnutrition and under-five mortality in combination with expected worsening pastoral conditions, a continued increase in local cereal prices, and a below-average Gu season harvest.

Civil insecurity and armed conflicts continue to be additional, serious threats to food security in most areas of southern and central Somalia, and obstruct the delivery of humanitarian aid.  If access for humanitarian aid and workers to the worst-affected areas of Somalia does not improve, continued flows of refugees to the Kenyan and Ethiopian borders can be expected.

In the medium term, interventions that rebuild and support livelihoods will be critical.  Securing long-term food and nutrition security in the Horn of Africa requires focussing on a range of issues affecting the region, including conflict, preservation of humanitarian space, nutrition, disaster risk reduction, health and education services, and climate change adaptation.  Building resilience in the agricultural sector will be essential to avoid recurrent food security crises in this region.

Revised requirements for the Horn appeals or comparable concerted action plans now total US$2.5 billion  for the whole of 2011 (see table overleaf).  Stakeholders should expect that these requirements will continue to change in the coming weeks and months, as more organizations scale up, and the humanitarian situation and operating environment evolve.  Funding to date for these coordinated actions amounts to $1 billion,  leaving $1.4 billion still to be provided for actions to save lives and immediately re-start livelihoods so as to avert the threat of more famine in the near future.

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28 July 2011

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