The Horn of Africa Crisis

Somali men and woman wait outside a tent serving as a medical clinic established by the African Union Mission in Somalia. UN PHOTO / STUART PRICE.
A man on a donkey cart in the Dadaab refugee camp, Kenya. © Zahra Moloo/IRIN
Abdille Muhamed with his dead cow in Garse Koftu village, 120km from Wajir in northeastern Kenya. © Jaspreet Kindra/IRIN
A somali refugee inside her tent at Dadaab refugee camp, Kenya. © Zahra Moloo/IRIN
The situation in southern Somalia has become worse following the drought caused by two seasons of low rainfall. (Photo: OCHA/Abdi Noor Yussuf)
Humanitarian aid workers are working hard to assist the IDPs through the distribution of corn-soya blend to assist the malnourished children as well as the elderly. (Photo: OCHA/Abdi Noor Yussuf)

View the Horn of Africa crisis slide show by clicking on the images above.


Today’s food and nutrition security challenges in the Horn of Africa range from a deepening drought affecting nearly 12 million people in Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia and Uganda and conflict to peace transitions  in Sudan, South Sudan and northern Uganda, to rising staple and input prices and more localized protracted and seasonal conflicts.

Regional drought in addition to successive bad rains and rising inflation ramped up a chronic livelihoods crisis into a tipping point of potential disaster by putting extreme pressure on food prices, livestock survival, and water and food availability. Armed conflict across the region compounded chronic ecological and economic vulnerability, which escalated the crisis and limited people’s survival and recovery choices. The Horn of Africa crisis has already affected 13 million people.

What is UNDP doing in response?

In Somalia, in spite of the security and access challenges, UNDP has rehabilitated essential agricultural infrastructure, including 80 water catchments that can store almost 380,000 cubic metres of water and 25 kilometres of canals. The programme distributed 3,000 20-litres containers of water to 3,000 households and 2,880 shoats to 360 households.

UNDP has rehabilitated social infrastructure— building 94 kilometres of access roads, rehabilitating a Technical Institute; distributed 1,500 energy-saving stoves and 36 tonnes of charcoal, and planted 18,000 trees. The programme also relocated 108 internally displaced persons by restoring their livelihoods in Bay region. These initiatives created over 280,000 work days for 8,300 people.

The famine in Somalia in particular sparked an increased flow of refugees into neighboring Kenya, with camps near the border areas hosting more than 463,000 refugees, mostly from Somalia. An additional 3.75 million Kenyans were affected by the drought themselves.

With resources short, UNDP scaled up critical programming to improve the living conditions in the northern part of Kenya. By the end of 2011, some 18,000 people living around the camps have seen improved access to water, through new shallow wells and other water harvesting and storage means. This has relieved the competition between refugees and their neighbors.

Additionally, the programme has provided farm implements and 7.7 tonnes of seeds specifically suited to arid conditions to 15,000 people. According to the short rains assessment conducted at the beginning of 2012, the number of people in need of food relief has reduced from 3.75 million to 2.2 million.

In Djibouti, In Djibouti, UNDP’s Emergency Drought Response cash-for-work programme is providing immediate emergency employment to 5,500 households through rehabilitation of water harvesting infrastructure and has restocked livestock to 500 households.

The programme is expected to benefit a total of 36,000 people, including the most vulnerable rural/urban households through food vouchers. An expanded cash-for-work programme will restore essential community and water infrastructure and provide livelihoods to the drought affected population. Throughout 2012 UNDP will provide Disaster Risk Management trainings to 1,080 representatives from government, civil defense, UN agencies and civil
society organizations.

In Ethiopia,  the Government has made good progress in improving food security in recent years. However, there are still a number of regions with significant vulnerable populations, especially small-scale farmers and pastoralist communities. UNDP’s response to the crisis has been multi-pronged. Under the combined cash and voucher for work schemes, UNDP uses commodity vouchers for both livestock restocking and agricultural inputs that benefit more than 20,000 persons. The response programme is rehabilitating 47 water infrastructures like ponds and traditional wells and putting in place 108 water management committees to increase water availability and access and prevent a further deterioration of food security.

UNDP’s response includes building community resilience through 52 risk reduction and climate adaptation initiatives planned and implemented by the communities through cash and voucher for work schemes. In addition, 104 community animal health workers are being trained and equipped for improved delivery of vital veterinary services to pastoralist communities. UNDP is also providing support in enhancing the capacity of the Government of Ethiopia’s Disaster Risk Management and Food Security Authority.

UNDP’s approach

While droughts cannot be avoided, famines can. UNDP firmly believes that investing more effectively in reducing poverty and building resilience is essential to help those affected to break out of the cycle of disasters. Focusing on restoring livelihoods and productive assets as quickly as possible will ensure a faster recovery.

For further details please see our Issue Brief on UNDP's response to the crisis in the Horn of Africa.

How to contribute?

There are a number of ways to support UNDP’s essential work in the region.  You can make a donation at:

A direct contribution can also be made to any of the UNDP Country Offices through a cost sharing agreement.  In addition, contributions of USD$10,000 or more can be made at global level through UNDP’s Thematic Trust Fund for Crisis Prevention and Recovery.

Hope in the Horn of Africa
UNDP Goodwill Ambassador Antonio Banderas: Urgent Call for Action in the Horn
Map of the Region








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Related Documents
  • Crisis Brief: UNDP's Response in the Horn of Africa
  • Response to the Crisis in the Horn of Africa: Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia Strategy and Funding Priorities