EU/Horn of Africa
K. Georgieva seeks to steer aid towards risk preparedness
By Anne Eckstein | Wednesday 27 July 2011
The European Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid, Kristalina Georgieva, confirmed, on 27 July, in Brussels that she intends to increase EU support for drought victims in the Horn of Africa to €158 million. "An unprecedented crisis calls for an unprecedented response," said the commissioner. Georgieva also considers it urgent to redirect aid towards risk preparedness and improving resilience to drought: "Less than 1%" of global development aid is earmarked for this type of action, she said. "This needs to change."
"The Commission will release immediate aid of €27.8 million on top of the €70 million already allocated and I have launched a process aimed at mobilising another €60 million, which will bring our response to nearly €158 million," she explained at a press conference upon her return from Somalia and Kenya. "What I saw in Dadaab [a refugee camp in eastern Kenya] is appalling. We have to do everything in our power to deliver aid within Somalia, in order to keep these people from having to travel such long distances, which is sometimes their last voyage," she declared. "There are organisations that have stayed in Somalia and that are working with local chiefs. We are doing a great deal, but it isn't enough,' she said. "A recent study that shows that less than 1% of development cooperation funding goes in disaster preparedness/risk reduction. This needs to change. Much more has to be done to cope with these risks," she stressed. The Commissioner added that "somewhere between 8 and 10%" of the humanitarian budget of the EU executive is set aside for disaster risk reduction.
Asked about projects being conducted by the Commission in the region, the commissioner said she had made a special trip to Moyale, in Kenya, where the EU is involved in risk preparedness projects, in close cooperation with local authorities. Comparatively, she said, "the population there is faring better because there have been investments in preparedness and prevention: resilience to drought is better there".
Bleak prospects anticipated
"2009 was also a tough year in terms of droughts in the Horn of Africa, by the end of 2010 it was very clear that the future is bleak for the region," acknowledged the commissioner. She mentioned in passing that the Commission had released €64 million in advance for this purpose. Georgieva argued for aid targeting prevention actions carried out in collaboration with local communities and NGOs. She nevertheless acknowledged that nothing could be done without a parallel solution to the political problems affecting the region. "It is a recipe for disaster for the world to accept a failed state," argued Georgieva. This solution too may only come from within and with the local populations: "It cannot be imposed from an office on the other side of the planet," stated the commissioner.