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Drought in Somalia Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Empowering Africa’s Humanitarians

To break Africa’s cycle of hunger, caused by conflict, disease, and drought, the international community must overhaul how it delivers aid to the continent’s most vulnerable people. This requires providing local partners the resources they need to sustain services long after multinational agencies have moved on.

NAIROBI – The scale of human suffering currently engulfing drought-stricken Somalia is almost indescribable. It is difficult to find words to convey the devastation and misery gripping the country, now in the midst of a prolonged period of record-low rainfall. I have watched emaciated herds of livestock drop, lifeless, into the dust, and been present when people’s futures evaporated in front of their eyes.

But if words cannot do justice to the magnitude of the crisis, they can guide the world’s response. And in that regard, let me be unequivocal: unless the international community overhauls its approach to delivering aid in Africa, the cycle of suffering will continue.

Somalia’s current catastrophe is not unique. Millions of Africans, in more than a dozen countries, are facing similar struggles, as failed harvests and persistent conflict fuel severe food insecurity. By some estimates, East African farmers have lost up to 60% of their livestock – their main source of income – in the first half of 2017. In the face of such overwhelming hardship, I am more angry than sad.

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