Bread for the World Urges U.S. Lawmakers to Lead Response to Horn of Africa Crisis
Washington, DC, August 2, 2011
With the worst drought in 60 years hitting the Horn of Africa, Bread for the World urges U.S. lawmakers to protect—not cut—international food aid in the ongoing budget debates. The United States must also increase its emergency response to the region and ensure that resources to invest in long-term development are protected.
“The current humanitarian response is inadequate to meet emergency needs,” said Faustine Wabwire, foreign assistance policy analyst for Bread for the World Institute. “Tens of thousands of lives could be saved, but the window of opportunity to do so is extremely limited. A massive, strategic response is critical to prevent death, total loss of livelihood, and social collapse.”
About 11.5 million people in the Horn of Africa face a humanitarian emergency—the most serious food insecurity situation in the world today. Currently, U.S. foreign assistance, including emergency food aid, accounts for less than 1 percent of the federal budget.
“Emergency aid is vital right now, but we must think beyond the current crisis. It is much more cost-effective to invest in building agricultural and economic systems that are sustainable in the long run and prevent calamities than it is to respond to emergency food shortage crises,” said Wabwire. “We must pay greater attention to long-term investments in women and children and in country-led initiatives that lay foundations for sustainable agriculture and livelihood strategies.”
Those in need of assistance include 4.56 million people in Ethiopia, 3.5 million in Kenya, and 3.7 million in Somalia. These issues are compounded by high food prices and political instability, which has rendered humanitarian efforts to meet the needs of people in the region difficult and dangerous.
“Any cuts to funding for international food aid programs will not significantly reduce the deficit,” said Rev. Derrick Boykin, associate for African American Leadership Outreach at Bread for the World. “It will cost us more in the long run, undermining the progress already made in reducing maternal and child deaths and severe malnutrition—especially in the Horn of Africa.”
Bread for the World and other faith leaders are part of the Circle of Protection, a nonpartisan movement that insists budgets are moral documents and that poor and vulnerable people should be protected—not targeted—in efforts to reduce long-term deficits.
Bread for the World is a collective Christian voice urging our nation's decision makers to end hunger at home and abroad.
Fito Moreno, Interim Media Relations Manager, 202-688-1138