NAIROBI - More than 50 aid agencies have called for an urgent increase in funding and leadership to respond to the humanitarian catastrophe facing millions in eastern Africa due to the severe drought, warning that further delays will cost lives.
Save the Children, Norwegian Refugee Council and Somali NGO Consortium said in a joint statement issued Sunday night ahead of the international donors' conference in Geneva that more than 14 million people in Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya - about half of whom are already on the verge of starvation.
We can't repeat the mistakes of the past and leave it until it's too late. Kurt Tjossem, regional vice-president for International Rescue Committee East Africa, said the time to act is now to prevent further suffering for millions of people in the East Africa region.
Tjossem said that conflict, insecurity and economic shocks have been driving suffering for years, and that mass displacement is leading to more and more people in dire need. He said that donors have proven to be very effective at mobilising attention and resources for other humanitarian crises around the world, particularly when it comes to saving lives.
READ MORE: Insect invasion adds to strains on Africa's food crisis.
The agencies said the current drought is compounded by the COVID 19 pandemic, conflict, desert locusts, and there is now a surge in food and commodity prices due to the conflict in Ukraine.
The number of food-insecure people will rise from 14 million to 20 million by the middle of 2022 if the rains continue to fail, prices continue to rise, and significant funds are not surged to meet the needs of those in crisis, according to the organizations.
In a time of historic need in the Horn of Africa, not getting much needed international attention and additional resources would result in thousands of lives being lost that could have been saved by a timely and at-scale response, said Heather Amstutz, Danish Refugee Council regional director for East Africa and the Great Lakes.
ALSO READ: Insect invasion adds to strains on Africa's food crisis.
Humanitarian partners requested more than 4.4 billion US dollars in funding in order to provide life-saving aid and protection to 29.1 million people in Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya in 2022.
The agencies said that failing to act quickly will cost more to donors in the long run and risk reversing the last decade of investments in building resilience and ending drought emergencies in the region.