The United States has pledged an additional $17 million to nations in
the Horn of Africa coping with severe drought. That includes $12 million
for Somalia, where tens of thousands of people have died of starvation
and disease. In a speech here in Washington Thursday, Secretary of State
Hillary Clinton said the response to the famine must look beyond the
current crisis and that now is the time to focus on ensuring it does not
More than two million people have fled their homes in Somalia in the
wake of the worst drought in decades.
At a camp near Mogadishu, this woman is one of the lucky ones whose
family survived the long and difficult walk.
"None of us died. We are farmers and herders. We lost all our livestock
and the children survived. Thanks to Allah," she said.
Dead livestock, withered crops and hunger are the story across a broad
swath of the Horn of Africa.
This is not the first time this story has played out in the region, said
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
"Every few decades the cycle repeats. And it would be easy to throw up
our hands and blame it all on forces beyond our control. But this cycle
is not inevitable," Clinton said.
Clinton said the world has the knowledge, tools and resources to make
hunger a memory, if there is the will to do so. "Right now when the
effects of food security are the most extreme, we must rededicate
ourselves to breaking this cycle," she said.
Speaking at the International Food Policy Research Institute, Clinton
said Somalia's neighbors Kenya and Ethiopia are better off today than in
previous droughts because they invested in their small-scale farmers and
herders. Ethiopia's social safety net program puts people to work on
projects that improve food security.
"More than 7.6 million farmers and herders have been helped by this
program, people who are not in need of emergency aid today," she said.
But critics say this program has made many people dependent on food aid.
And Ethiopian political analyst Jawar Mohammed says it has become a
political tool as well.
"The government used this network of food aid delivery to force people
to become members and supporters of the ruling party," Mohammed said.
But for countries that commit to helping their own farmers and herders
improve food security, the United States has pledged $3.5 billion in
aid. Kenya and Ethiopia already are receiving help from this program.
Clinton called on other donor nations to follow through on pledges they
made to help boost developing world food security. Otherwise, she added,
the world might soon face another crisis in the Horn of Africa.