The organizations—including the All Africa Conference of Churches, Christian Aid, Catholic Agency for Overseas Development, Catholic Relief Services and Medicins Sans Frontieres—made the appeal as the number of people hit by the drought in the region reached at least 36.1 million. In July, a 19.4 million estimate was recorded in Kenya, Ethiopia, and Somalia.
“To strengthen efforts by the Horn of Africa governments to save lives now, and give a lifeline to millions on the frontline of the hunger crisis, the G7, G20, IMF, World Bank and all private creditors should suspend all debt repayments due in 2022 and 2023, and the same invested to responding to the worsening humanitarian crisis,” said the organizations in a statement that also addressed climate change concerns and adaptation.
Analysts say the region—like other parts of Africa—is struggling with unprecedented crises, worsened by the COVID-19 pandemic, conflict, and the war in Ukraine.
According to the groups, harvests and crops have failed in five consecutive seasons with livestock – including camels, cattle, goats, and sheep—dying in the drought. In the beginning, there was some water in rivers and dams for farmers and their animals, but the sources have since dried up with excessive heat extinguishing pasture.
As a result, an estimated 8.9 million livestock have died in the three countries. Communities have been forced to move to new territories, triggering climate-related conflicts.
“Not that we didn’t see this coming, sadly. Scientists have repeatedly warned of insufficient rainfall and prolonged drought, mostly attributed to the changing climate,” stated the organizations. “We are saddened to see the results of this inaction despite numerous warnings, and yet global leaders continue to drag their feet when it comes to honouring climate financing pledges.”
The organizations urged a prioritization in the distribution of funds to end hunger-related deaths and ensure the protection of vulnerable groups, including women, girls, the elderly, and the sick.
“Interventions such as school meals must be expanded to ensure all children remain in school, and girls are protected from all harmful practices including early, child and forced marriages, sexual and gender-based violence, abuse, and exploitation,” said the organizations.
Among other appeals, the organizations urge the governments to avail funds, and speed and scale-up their response to the humanitarian crisis. They also want governments to implement the Africa Union Climate Change Response Strategy and Action Plan 2022 – 2032.
In the COP27 meeting in Sharm-El-Sheikh in Egypt in November, the organizations want the presidency to put adaptation on top of the agenda of the meeting.
“It is outrageous that in a world where there is enough to feed everyone, people are still dying of hunger and hundreds of millions are on the brink of famine despite promises to never again give famine a chance in this century,” said the organizations.