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A Dangerous Delay: The cost of late response to the drought in the Horn of Africa Benedict Dempsey, Save the Children.

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Presentation on theme: "A Dangerous Delay: The cost of late response to the drought in the Horn of Africa Benedict Dempsey, Save the Children."— Presentation transcript:

1 A Dangerous Delay: The cost of late response to the drought in the Horn of Africa Benedict Dempsey, Save the Children

2 The Warnings Aug: All seasonal forecasts indicate poor rains due to La Niña. FEWSNET Nov: Pre- emptive action needed now to protect livelihoods and avoid later costly lifesaving emergency interventions FSNWG Jan: Extreme food insecurity in the eastern Horn of Africa is likely FEWSNET Mar: Below- average Mar- May rains forecast: crisis likely to worsen. Localized famine conditions possible Joint agency Jun: Food security emergency: humanitarian response inadequate. Joint agency 20 July: UN declares famine. FSNAU Timeline Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct

3 The funding

4 More than 70% of funding, and almost 90% of mainstream US and UK media coverage came after UN famine declaration in July 2011

5 Early warnings – inadequate response Aug: Clear forecast of poor rains Nov: A call for pre-emptive action now Jan: Extreme food insecurity predicted Mar: Localized famine conditions possible July: UN declares famine GAM rates in South Central Somalia

6 Early warnings – inadequate response Early warnings were correct, accessible and well disseminated Humanitarian agencies relied on information from intermediaries, like FEWSNET, not direct use of climate/weather information There was some response, but not at scale The inevitable impact was increased suffering, loss of life and livelihood, development gains reversed, and increased cost of response The opportunity to avert a crisis was missed.

7 why was the response inadequate? Fear of getting it wrong? – both financial and reputational risk; an inability to act in uncertainty Fear of being too interventionist? – risk of undermining local communities Fatigue? – resignation to high levels of chronic malnutrition Critically, the warnings themselves were not considered the main problem – the problem lay in the response of the aid system

8 The international (humanitarian) system NGOs UN Agencies Private Sector ?Military? National Governments Communities National Civil Society Donor Governments

9 Situation Returns to normal Shock Slow Onset Food Crisis Response Framework

10 DRR CCA Preparedness Capacity Building Humanitarian Development Resilience Approaches to Aid Social Protection

11 What is needed for improvement? Humanitarian response must shift more into prevention and early action. This requires: 1. Managing the risk – dealing with uncertainty 2. Developing triggers for earlier response 3. Institutionalising no regrets measures Long term development work must be the first response. This requires: 4. Embedding DRR into long term work 5. Making programmes flexible and building crisis response out of development work

12 Implications for weather and climate science Levels of risk and uncertainty need to be integrated into developing response frameworks Responders need to accept a level of uncertainty in their triggers for action Information needs to be meaningful and accessible to a diverse group of actors – particularly communities themselves Climate information must be combined with other indicators of oncoming crisis (e.g. food prices, nutrition)


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