Drought Horn of Africa

Speech at High-Level Roundtable for the Horn of Africa Drought

By Ambassador H.E. Paul Bekkers, Permanent Representative of the Kingdom of the Netherlands

Honorable Ministers, distinguished colleagues, ladies and gentlemen,

The unfolding humanitarian disaster in parts of the Horn of Africa is at the forefront of our minds. For too many, this is the fourth drought period in a row. Our thoughts are with the people in Ethiopia, Somalia and Kenya, many of whom have lost lives and livelihoods. In the absence of current and future coping mechanisms, we are alarmed by the high number of people in need, a number which is projected to rise even further.

Under these extremely difficult circumstances, more and more families are forced to flee to displacement camps, in search of immediate food assistance and safe drinking water. As protection risks are rising, especially for those most vulnerable, we also continue to prioritize the mainstreaming of MHPSS and the prevention of sexual exploitation, abuse and harassment (SEAH) in humanitarian responses.

We furthermore note with concern how the devastating effects of this exceptional drought  are exacerbated by other factors, such as Covid-19, climate change, ongoing conflict in the region, and the Ukraine crisis. It is crucial that remaining access difficulties for all humanitarian actors are addressed in Ethiopia and Somalia, and that the governments in these countries work towards political solutions.

This “perfect storm” underscores the importance of our continuous common efforts to build resilience and work towards durable solutions. In cooperation with Dutch, multilateral and local partners, the Netherlands therefore invests approximately EUR 325 million annually in global food security. This effort will reach millions of malnourished people and poor farmers, especially in the Horn of Africa. Through our food security programme, we will contribute €10 million to the Crisis Response Initiative from the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD). In Kenya, our Prospects Partnership Programme focuses on food and water initiatives for displaced communities. We are committed to advancing a “Nexus approach”, amongst others on flood management and durable solutions for Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs).

We are very concerned about the critical funding shortfalls. Indeed, contributions by all should be provided on a No-Regrets-basis. The Netherlands provides quality financing as well as additional donations.

We’re watching with concern how other crises in the world are further exacerbated by the situation in Ukraine. The Netherlands is committed to pull its weight to help avert its impact on already volatile situations and food insecurity in the world. Therefore, we’ve decided to pledge an additional 47 million EUR unearmarked funding. This pledge comes on top of the unearmarked contributions to major humanitarian agencies and funds we had already foreseen. Additionally, this year the Netherlands also provides earmarked humanitarian funding to Somalia and Ethiopia which amounts to 19,5 mln. EUR.

The Netherlands strives to be a committed and trustworthy donor, in support of the work by national Governments, whose national responsibilities vis-à-vis their citizens are crucial. We encourage governments in the region to work together, in their responses to the current crisis, as well as to prevent future ones.

With the competition between all crises for emergency financing, the question remains how we can get more donors, business and IFIs around the table to co-finance.

The Roundtable is co-chaired by the European Union Commissioner for Crisis Management, Mr. Janez Lenarčič, and Mr. Martin Griffiths, United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, with the participation of representatives of the governments of Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia.