The Somali region in eastern Ethiopia has been particularly hard hit by drought. The nomadic population have practically no more grazing land for their livestock; their livelihoods are acutely threatened. Some 1.7 million people in this region are already dependent on food aid. In Ethiopia 5.6 million people are suffering acute hunger.
"Ethiopia has learned from previous droughts and has taken far-reaching precautions this time," said Federal Development Minister Gerd Müller. He is currently visiting the Somali region, one of the areas suffering worst under the drought. One stop on his trip was a settlement where people who have been forced to flee their homes by the drought are being provided with the bare essentials. Safe drinking water, food and medical care are the priorities. In spite of improved preparations, the scale of this drought is overstretching the capacities not only of Ethiopia but of the region as a whole, said Gerd Müller.
"In South Sudan, Somalia, Niger, Kenya and Cameroon, people are dying of hunger because the international community has reacted too late, because the cash is taking too long to get where it is needed, and because funds are only forthcoming when it is far too late to avert the disaster," criticised Gerd Müller. The Federal Development Minister thus called for a permanent UN crisis fund to be established as swiftly as possible.
On Wednesday, speaking in Brussels, Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs Sigmar Gabriel launched an urgent appeal along with European Union and United Nations representatives. The international community, he said, must accept responsibility and provide funds to prevent famine. "Nobody has the excuse that they do not know what the people there are facing," he stated.
In order to mobilise support worldwide, Germany will be working hard at international donor conferences and networking with aid organisations over the coming weeks. There are also plans to increase aid payments from Germany. The German government will be asking the Bundestag to approve more funds, reported Sigmar Gabriel.
This year, the Federal Development Ministry will be providing a total of 300 million euros to fight the consequences of drought in East Africa. To this sum must be added 120 million euros for humanitarian aid from the budget of the Federal Foreign Office. The Federal Foreign Office has earmarked 40 million euros for South Sudan, while another 15 million euros worth of aid is to go to the Horn of Africa.