• IRC calls for full $7 billion in funding for regional UN appeals ahead of next week's UN Horn of Africa Pledging Conference.

  • With no famine declared in Somalia thanks to international response, IRC calls for continued investment in recovery and resilience programmes to shore up livelihoods and prevent the next food security crisis. 

  • IRC calling for investment in breakthrough solutions including a simplified treatment for acutely malnourished children, climate resilience and adaptation efforts. 

The IRC is calling for the UN appeal to be fully funded at next week’s Horn of Africa pledging conference, given ongoing needs across the region. With greater funding, existing solutions can be scaled up that could save millions of lives.  

Over 21 million people across three states in the Horn of Africa are in need of food assistance. The burden of malnutrition in Somalia more than doubled from 840,000 in 2021 to about 1.8 million today. The recent drought has decimated 3 million livestock, a key source of livelihoods for millions across Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya, and has contributed to extreme hunger in the region, as recent reports demonstrate that human-made climate change has increased the likelihood of drought in the region by 100 times.

David Miliband, President and CEO of the IRC, said,

Mere months ago Somalia was on the brink of famine, due to surpass the catastrophe of 2021 in terms of scale and severity. There is no room for complacency: the aid effort, largely led by the United States, is helping keep famine at bay, but the drivers of hunger are still very much present. Over 21 million across the Horn of Africa are going to bed hungry. The IRC calls for the full funding of the regional humanitarian appeals, currently funded around 23% on average. Efforts to combat food insecurity need to be urgently scaled up across a wider group of governments, international financial institutions and climate actors at the conference next week. 

“At the same time there needs to be a change in approach to famine response and prevention to save lives and prevent catastrophe before it strikes. Research from the 2012 famine in the Horn of Africa showed that 250,000 people died before famine was declared and the international surge in response took place. Effective early warning systems help identify areas that are at risk of famine before the situation becomes critical, such as weather patterns, crop yields, and food prices, and should trigger action for the most at-risk by funneling cash, food and other support before people experience IPC 4, let alone famine at IPC 5. The IRC has tested an early warning systems approach in Nigeria, providing cash transfers to households ahead of a predicted generational flood, helping households build resiliency and take preemptive action.

“The Secretary-General’s High Level Task Force on Preventing Famine is another critical vehicle to drive early action, and IRC is glad to have joined the Task Force as an NGO representative this month. It must unlock the political will to respond to a famine risk, mobilise investments at scale to respond to early warning systems, and coordinate collective action across the international community. 

“The IRC is also calling for investment in solutions that simply require increased funding and the political will to scale. 45 million children around the world are facing malnutrition, the worst impact of hunger, and 80% never receive treatment. IRC’s ‘simplified protocol’ treats children suffering from malnutrition using a single peanut paste product and simplified diagnosis and dosing, delivered directly within communities by community health workers.”

With more funding, existing solutions can be scaled up across the region: 

Increasing the ability of acutely malnourished children to access lifesaving treatment by adopting simplified approaches that are effective and efficient.

Sixty million children under 5 are experiencing acute malnutrition, including 18 million children living in conflict and crisis-affected contexts. Despite a proven treatment existing via a fortified peanut paste, this lifesaving treatment does not reach 80% of  children in need due to an overly complex and clinical approach to treatment and lack of sustained funding. To solve this problem, the IRC has developed a simplified treatment protocol, using a single product and simplified diagnosis and dosing, that can be delivered by community health workers. 

This approach eliminates the unnecessary duplication, division and complexity that impede the reach of the prevailing treatment protocol. We know our solution works, even in the most challenging settings. 

A recent, largest of its kind study, conducted by the IRC in partnership with the Mali Ministry of Health treated more than 27,000 children with the simplified protocol and saw recovery rates over 90% while decreasing treatment costs by 21% for a severely malnourished child. Our data suggests that if implementing agencies delivered treatment to all children in need, over 35 million additional children could recover in a matter of weeks.

Support and fund the UN High-Level Task Force (HLTF) on Famine.

The IRC has been calling for a reinvigoration of this UN task force, and meetings for the newly re-energised Task Force kicked off earlier this month. The task force has a pivotal role to play in galvanising attention and resources before it’s too late. The HLTF should focus on unlocking the political will to respond to a famine risk, mobilising investments at scale to respond to early warning systems, and coordinating collective action across the international community. 

Early warning systems and anticipatory action help to mitigate the impacts of climate change.

Climate change can exacerbate the conditions that lead to famine and increase the frequency and severity of droughts, which are a major cause of food insecurity in the region due to the sixth season of failed rains. 

An effective early warning system can help identify areas that are at risk of famine and climate shocks before the situation becomes critical. This helps to avert a potential crisis by pre-positioning food, cash, and other supplies in areas that are at risk and ensuring that relief efforts are coordinated and timely.

The IRC has tested this approach in Nigeria, by providing cash transfers to households ahead of a predicted generational flood, after setting up early warning systems with local meteorological agencies. By receiving cash support before a climate shock, as opposed to the typical humanitarian response of providing cash transfers post-disaster, households were able to build resiliency and take preemptive actions such as investing in productive agricultural assets or livestock.