East Africa is in the midst of another drought, one of the worst in decades. But the staff of the Famine Early Warning Systems Network saw this coming as early as the summer of 2010: In an alert issued last August, FEWSNET predicted abnormally short rains for the rest of the year could adversely affect pastoral and marginal agricultural areas, which are known to be highly vulnerable to climatic variations such as drought.
With that information on hand, the U.S. Agency for International Development said it started pre-positioning food stocks in the region last year and scaling up lifesaving water and nutrition programs in January 2011.
FEWSNET has been rendering food security forecasts for countries in sub-Saharan Africa, Central America, the Caribbean and Central Asia over the last quarter century. It is a collaborative project funded by USAID and is currently implemented by a consortium led by Chemonics International under an indefinite quantity contract.
The FEWSNET contract is just one of the 14 live USAID IQCs managed by the international development consulting giant, as per a listing found on the bilateral aid agency’s website. This is the most held by any USAID contractor and represents nearly a tenth of the total 170 IQCs with completion dates beyond July 2011.
Eliza Villarino currently manages one of today’s leading publications on humanitarian aid, global health and international development, the weekly GDB. At Devex, she has helped grow a global newsroom, with talented journalists from major development hubs such as Washington, D.C, London and Brussels. She regularly writes about innovations in global development.