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EU pledges $56m funding to tackle drought in the Horn of Africa, including Somalia

Dead goats in a parched north-eastern Somalia last December. Drought has caused widespread food shortage and a UN agency estimates that up to 270,000 children will suffer from severe malnutrition.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

The European Commission is mobilizing €50 million ($56 million) in emergency humanitarian funding to support drought-hit communities in the Horn of Africa.

On Wednesday, the EU’s decision-implementing body—the European Commission—said it was raising the funds to help the communities buy food and other essential needs.

“Our funding will help extend humanitarian assistance in the affected areas, helping communities ward off the risk of famine,” Christos Stylianides, the EU Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management said in a statement.

Somalia, the worst of the crisis, will receive $28 million, followed by Ethiopia at $22 million. Kenya and Uganda—both hosting refugees from neighboring countries—will receive $3.3 million and $2.2 million respectively.

The funding will also go towards public health services and treatment of severe malnutrition among toddlers and pregnant women as well as stipends for sustaining livelihoods.

Most of the targeted communities practice pastoral lifestyle in Kenya’s dry north, Uganda’s Karamoja region, Somalia and Ethiopia.

The pledge brings total EU humanitarian assistance to the region to $410 million since the mid-last year when the draught started.

About 13 million people require urgent food assistance according to the UN Organisation for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA).

“Late rainfall in May in Ethiopia, Kenya, and Somalia was insufficient to compensate for the delayed start of the rainy season, resulting in reductions in planting and wilting of crops currently being harvested. The damage to crops this in Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia season is irreversible,” reads a bulletin from UNOCHA.

Climate watch agency Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FewsNet) cautions that the food situation may run until early next year, despite predicted improvements in rainfall in October.