Donors Pressed to Do More For Somalia

The international response to the famine in Somalia has had its share of criticisms, particularly on the pace of donations and aid delivery. Some observers and analysts suggest that the slow pace of the response may be attributed to the international community’s unwillingness to intervene.

There are analysts and experts who have argued that the famine could have been prevented from ballooning to the extent it has reached now if donors and the rest of the international community heeded early warnings. Donations and assistance did pick up in the last few months, but the United Nations says the momentum is beginning to slow down.

The U.N. aid appeal for Somalia remains significantly underfunded even as aid agencies are bracing for the possible spread of disease if the rains start falling in the country.

The Washington Post notes in an editorial that foreign governments “may calculate that aid will be wasted in Somalia,” which has been shrouded in conflict for the past decades.

A U.S. official has voiced a similar opinion, arguing that some members of the international community are doubtful that aid to Somalia is working.

“There’s no mood for intervention,” the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told The New York Times. “People remember what happened in the 1990s. ‘It doesn’t work’ was the conclusion.”

But The Washington Post maintains Somalia needs “much more aid.” It says the international community should use every window of opportunity, such as the withdrawal of militants from Somalia’s capital city, to step up its relief programs in the country. The news agency also suggests sending more U.N. peacekeepers to help secure more routes for aid within the country.

Heads and legislators of several donor countries have largely recognized this need to do more for Somalia, not only in the short-term emergency response but more importantly, to help the country recover from the current crisis and prepare for potential ones in the future.

“What is needed is support for greater long-term investment in agriculture. What is needed is an end to the exploitation by the international land speculation. What is needed is to stop speculation on food commodities which causes prices to soar so hungry people can’t afford them,” Harriet Harman, the U.K.’s shadow international development secretary, noted, according to BBC.

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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.