World Bank to aid 500 mln dollars to fight drought in NE. Africa

13:22, July 26, 2011      

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The World Bank announced Monday to provide more than 500 million U.S. dollars to help drought victims in Northeast of Africa -- the Horn of Africa.

Meanwhile, another 12-million-U.S. dollars aid in immediate assistance will help those worst hit by the crisis.

More than 11 million people in the region have been hit by one of the worst droughts in 60 years, resulting in widespread hunger, deaths, and the loss of subsistence crops and livestock, said the World Bank.

Rising food prices and deteriorating livestock prices have exacerbated the situation, and the UN is warning of worsening conditions in the coming months.

"Immediate relief and recovery is the first priority, and it is important to act fast to reduce human suffering," said World Bank President Robert B. Zoellick. "But we also have an eye on the long term solutions of economic recovery and drought resilience that are key to re-establishing livelihoods and ensuring that droughts don't take such a heavy human toll in the future."

The World Bank chief stressed that the food crisis in Eastern Africa is another startling example of why international partners need to "put food first".

"Agriculture is one-third of the GDP and three-quarters of employment in Sub-Saharan Africa. When a crisis like this hits, millions of people suffer. Agriculture is more vulnerable to climate change than any other sector. We need a major international effort to address this challenge now," he said.

He added that climate-smart agriculture, including scaled-up research on drought resistant seeds, and cross-border strategies for drought risk reduction are essential over the medium and long term.

The bank said that in a longer term, it is important for countries in the Horn of Africa to prepare for recurring droughts that climate change will make more intense. An integrated approach to food security, poverty, and climate change is needed.

The World Bank announced in April 2011 that rising food prices have pushed 44 million people into poverty since June 2010. Another 10 percent rise in the food price index could push 10 million more people into poverty.

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