World Bank boosts Horn of Africa aid to US$1.88 bln


The World Bank said it was more than tripling funding to $1.88 billion for a worsening drought in Horn of Africa countries affecting more than 13 million people.

The funding is boosted from around $500 million the World Bank announced in July.

World Bank President Robert Zoellick said the financing would help fill a $1 billion funding gap needed to tackle drought and a food crisis engulfing parts of Somalia, Kenya, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Djibouti and Uganda, Reuters reports.

At the United Nations, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told a conference on the Horn of Africa famine that around $700 million was still needed for this year alone. “Next year we will need more,” he added.

The United Nations had estimated that some $2.4 billion in aid was needed for immediate drought relief assistance. While international appeals have drawn $1.4 billion in donor pledges, a gap remains.

Somalia is at the epicenter of the hunger crisis. The United Nations has said about 750,000 people face imminent starvation in Somalia, where the al Qaeda-affiliated rebel group al Shabaab controls much of the south and will not allow food shipments.

Zoellick said the World Bank funding would be allocated in three phases following initial needs assessments conducted by bank experts in Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somali refugee camps and Uganda.

He made clear that the bulk of the funding was for long-term measures to aid resistance to drought, with just $288 million going for “rapid response” relief in the fiscal year ending next June 30.
“In addressing today’s disaster, our role is to help build resilience for tomorrow. A humanitarian crisis need not and should not become a perpetual crisis,” he said in a statement.

At the United Nations, Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odings became the first leader attending the annual General Assembly gathering to sign a charter drafted by a coalition of aid agencies outlining actions to stop widespread starvation.

They included early warning of famines, support for local food production, stockpiling emergency food reserves and limiting the use of food export bans, building social safety nets and engaging in vigorous diplomacy to end conflicts.

Irish rock singer Bob Geldof, a longtime activist for famine relief, told reporters, “Is it (the charter) going to shift the world on its axis? No. Is it going to give it a little nudge? Absolutely.”