USAID Assistant Administrator Lindborg on Famine in Somalia

Statement by Assistant Administrator Nancy Lindborg
Assistant Administrator for Democracy, Conflict and Humanitarian Assistance
U.S. Agency for International Development
February 6, 2012

 

On February 3 the United Nations declared that famine is no longer present in Somalia.  This is great and welcome news to the humanitarian aid community.  The newly released data shows the positive impact of the massive international effort to rush life-saving assistance to millions of people in Somalia.  What we are doing is working, and it is saving lives.

The United States has provided over $210 million in aid for Somalia and played a key role in the international effort to save lives.  Since the crisis began, the international community has assisted 94 percent of the children estimated to be malnourished in southern Somalia, and we have vaccinated over 1.2 million children countrywide.  We have provided sustainable water access for more than 1.9 million people in Somalia, temporary access to safe drinking water for more than 2.9 million people, and sanitation facilities for approximately 1.1 million people.  We have also provided basic health care and hygiene materials and education to nearly 1.9 million people in Somalia.

For more than six months, since famine was first declared in July 2011, we have been focused on trying to save lives, particularly of the many children under five who are most vulnerable to famine.  With the support of many Americans, what we have been able to achieve is impressive, but we know this crisis is far from over.  Somalia is a country plagued by more than 20 years of conflict and insecurity, and it is precisely these conditions that allowed drought-affected areas in southern Somalia to spiral into famine in 2011.  Today nearly a third of the population in Somalia remain in crisis, unable to fully meet the most essential human needs.

This drought has focused all of us on the imperative of building resilience. We know we cannot prevent drought, but we can use improved and smarter programs to create greater resilience and improve food security.  We can make progress that ensures the next time a drought hits the Horn, communities will have the ability to withstand the worst affects without being pushed into crisis.