AU Pledging Conference Raises $350M for East African Crisis Response

    Somalia refugees queue for food at a camp for the displaced in Dollo Ado, Ethiopia. Photo by: L. Padoan / UNHCR

    Donors and African governments committed up to $350 million at an international pledging conference for East Africa, which was held Aug. 25 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. It is still unclear how much of the total pledges is new money, and some aid groups are unhappy with the commitments made by African governments.

    The total pledges include a $300 million commitment from the African Development Bank, which AfDB President Donald Kaberuka indicated would be used to promote economic opportunities in East Africa and finance long-term resilience programs from 2011 to 2013.

    “The cycle of doing the same thing each time and expecting a different outcome is what we should bring to an end,” Kaberuka said at the pledging conference, explaining AfDB’s focus on longer-term development projects in the region. “Let us address the immediate issues but charting out long-term solutions.”

    African governments, meanwhile, pledged a total of $46 million, according to the Guardian, which described the conference as a “poorly attended summit meeting” where only four heads of African states were present. The African government’s total commitment fell short of the $50 million that non-governmental organizations expected the countries to raise.

    Africans Act 4 Africa, a regional group of activists pushing for government action to address needs of famine victims, said it was “disappointed” the pledges did not meet the minimum target.

    “If we truly believe in ‘African solutions for African problems’ we need to demonstrate this very clearly, not just in words but in actions,” Africans Act 4 Africa said, according to the Guardian. “We need to ensure this is not just another talk shop where AU leaders spend a lot of money on travel, protocol and their entourages.”

    The group also urged the rest of the international community to “fill the remaining gap” of approximately $1 billion in humanitarian aid for drought and famine victims.

    The rest of the pledges announced at the conference came from private donors, according to Jean Ping, the head of the African Union Commission.

    Lagging long-term response

    Amid calls for immediate humanitarian aid, the United Nations and its partners in the East African response are also urging donors to adequately support long-term efforts targeting agricultural recovery in the region. The Food and Agriculture Organization has warned that funding for such efforts is currently lagging.

    “Support for activities outlined in FAO’s ‘Road map for Recovery’ — a $161 million package designed to restore livelihoods and build the resilience of populations in the face of climate and other shocks — has so far been insufficient,” the agency said in a news release, noting that only $57.3 million of the required funding has so far been disbursed or committed.

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    About the author

    • Ivy Mungcal

      As former senior staff writer, Ivy Mungcal contributed to several Devex publications. Her focus is on breaking news, and in particular on global aid reform and trends in the United States, Europe, the Caribbean, and the Americas. Before joining Devex in 2009, Ivy produced specialized content for U.S. and U.K.-based business websites.