Emergency Humanitarian Response In Horn Of Africa Must Shift To Community Development

Though emergency humanitarian assistance has helped keep people alive in the Horn of Africa, “this effort is not sustainable,” David Morley, president and CEO of UNICEF Canada, writes in a Globe and Mail opinion piece. “Trucking in water and flying in food and medicine save lives, but we must rethink the way aid agencies operate in the region. We need to blend the immediate life-saving effort with creative longer-term community development … and involve everyone affected by the crisis. Farmers, herders, refugees and displaced people, local communities and government officials have valuable insights that a massive humanitarian response all too often overlooks,” he continues.

Morley concludes, “Increased investment in agriculture, small business development to provide extra income for the nomads, flexible schooling and decentralized health services, local management of water points, and nutritional surveillance that enables a faster response to spikes in malnutrition are some successful risk-reduction tactics. But the key is not what a program looks like — the key is to listen to and learn from the community” (10/19).