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Fighting Kenya, Somalia’s worst drought – Business Daily

A herds boy walks on a dry dam on July 15, 2021. PHOTO | CHEBOITE KIGEN | NMG
Very early in my humanitarian service career, the Horn of Africa became a priority region. These days, I return to the region to witness and assess the current food crisis. However, this time, I was particularly moved by the sheer scale of the current problem.
Families are taking desperate measures to survive. I have observed how drought increases the risk of gender-based violence, sexual exploitation and abuse; it limits children’s access to education; it leads to developmental disorders and diseases caused by malnutrition and hunger; and displaced people deprived of the support of their families or their social networks are extremely vulnerable and in need of protection.
The current crisis is exacerbated by an already difficult economic situation. Affected communities are struggling to cope with the cumulative consequences of other shocks, including Covid-19 and the effects of the war in Ukraine on commodity prices.
Additionally, other political priorities such as the recent Kenyan elections distract domestic political attention from the severe food crisis taking place in parts of the country. The climatic event affecting the region is of historic proportions not seen in at least 40 years.
Millions of people are facing the threat of starvation. In Kenya alone, nearly 4.1 million persons are food insecure and over three million people cannot access enough water for drinking and cooking.
Switzerland’s relations with the region have intensified over the past 30 years. Following the famine of 2011, we significantly expanded our support and launched a regional cooperation programme for the Horn of Africa, to contribute to a more stable and resilient region in the long-term.
For this plan, the Swiss government is providing more than $230 million over the next four years. Switzerland remains committed to its engagement in Kenya and the region, despite recent geopolitical developments.
Last April, I participated in a high-level roundtable in Geneva to support global fundraising efforts led by regional governments, including Kenya and Somalia. Switzerland allocated for this year an additional $11 million to respond to urgent needs linked to the food crisis.
Switzerland’s commitment and the support of the international community will not be sufficient. Long-term engagements focusing on resilience and adaptation of livelihoods to climate change requires more attention, both at the international and national levels, as does learning from previous crises in the region.
The response to the current crisis must therefore be a joint one by all who have the knowledge, experience and resources.

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