Today in Famine: Funding From Uncommon Sources Edition

Since the latest update, the needle has moved in somewhat of a more positive direction when it comes to funding the humanitarian response to the drought and famine crisis in the horn of Africa.

So far, out of an estimated US$2.4 billion in humanitarian requirements for Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia, $1.12 billion has been committed. These are funds that humanitarian organizations say are required to meet the basic needs of 12.42 million people affected by the drought and famine.

Funding about 50% of a humanitarian crisis is sadly typical. But if there’s a bright spot to all this, it is that several non traditional donors have stepped up to contribute funds.

To be sure, the regular donors are still topping the list: The United States is still the single largest contributor ($574,987,214 committed so far) followed by the UK, European Commission, and Japan. But you don’t have to look too far down the list to see that China has now committed $68,734,845. This puts it ahead of Sweden and Germany.  China’s commitment include a $20 million gift to the World Food Program earlier this week for its operations in Somalia. Brazil, another non-traditional donor, has so far committed over $32 million to the crisis.

So far, African countries have not yet committed a significant amount to the crisis. That may change, though, as the African Union today is hosting a pledging conference for the Horn of Africa crisis at its Adis Ababa headquarters.  From the UN News Center:

Senior United Nations officials are calling on countries, businesses and individuals to give generously to support efforts to tackle the food security crisis gripping the Horn of Africa, warning that the world cannot “afford to lose momentum” in the fight against famine, disease and starvation.

As the continent’s leaders prepare to gather in Addis Ababa tomorrow for a pledging conference hosted by the African Union, Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro said all segments of society – including governments, the public, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and the private sector – need to play their part in dealing with the crisis.

“We ask you, we ask everybody to make donations to multilateral efforts, pooled international funds, so that we can jointly identify where the needs are greatest and how that money should be spent,” Ms. Migiro told UN Radio ahead of the pledging conference, which she will address. “We also need your help in getting the access we need to allow us to save lives.”

Ms. Migiro noted that the international response to the crisis – which is affecting Ethiopia, Kenya and Djibouti, but Somalia in particular – is accelerating, despite restrictions and security concerns in some parts of Somalia.

“In areas where Western and UN agencies have not been able to gain access, many Islamic organizations have arrived and are responding to the needs,” she said.

The financial commitments that come from this conference will probably not close the remaining $1 billion funding gap, but any little bit helps.